Where’s Bruce Willis when you really need him

asteroidAs if you don’t have enough to worry about

If you’re of a nervous disposition this video may keep you awake at night. It shows all the asteroids discovered in the last 30 years, and their orbital paths. It starts off in 1980 when we only knew about a sprinkling of them, and flicks through a week or two a second to inexorably add to the number of new findings.

Newly discovered asteroids show briefly as white before turning to green.

The most worrying ones are coloured red and yellow. The red ones cross the Earth’s orbit and the yellow ones come fairly close to your back yard.

It’s clearer if you watch it using the HD setting.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2k2vkLEE4ko?rel=0]
this is a dummy line break

The pattern of discovery looks like a searchlight pointing away from the sun. That’s the way astronomers have to look. There’s also a pattern of discovery between the Earth and Jupiter, that’s a by-product of the search for Jovian moons.

Don’t lose too much sleep. It’s not as bad as it looks. There’s a lot of empty space out there and we only get clobbered by a real biggie every 500,000 years or so. If you really need something to fret about there are billions of other quite large objects charging around the Kuiper Belt and trillions more farther out in the Oort Cloud.

Most of them are believed to be fairly stable.



If you do want to frighten the kids there’s more about Scott Manley’s video here. Including a high definition download of the 2010 version of the video.


Tawharanui map

Tāwharanui Regional ParkTāwharanui

The Social Secretary and I have just returned home after 8 days camping at the beautiful Tāwharanui Regional Park 15km from the lovely village of Matakana just north of Auckland. It’s a fantastic 588 hectares at the end of the Tāwharanui Peninsula in the Hauraki Gulf. Outside of the really busy periods like Summer weekends, Christmas and Waitangi Day the place is 90% empty. It’s astonishing to me that places like this are so little used but it certainly makes it enjoyable for those of us who can live without TV and PlayStation for a few days.

Far from the madding crowd

As you can see from this shot of our campsite (that’s us close to the centre of the image), it’s not exactly over-subscribed in the Springtime.

A pest-proof fence has recently been installed right across the peninsula. As a result, most of the introduced predators: cats, rats, stoats, possums, and hedgehogs have been eliminated and birds rarely seen on the New Zealand mainland have reintroduced themselves or been re-established by conservation organisations.

Looking towards Anchor Bay:

Looking towards Anchor Bay

Continue reading

Shaky quake appreciation

About earthquakes

There’s been a lot of nonsense in the media over the Canterbury earthquakes and the more recent shakes in Cook Strait off Seddon. Contrary to reports, the “big one” has not yet hit New Zealand. Christchurch did not suffer a 7.1 earthquake in 2010, Darfield did. Christchurch is more than 40km away from Darfield, consequently, the effect on the central city was the equivalent of a quake of significantly less than 7.1.

The more damaging earthquake in February 2011 was magnitude 6.3 and much closer to Christchurch. It was a relatively small shake in the great scheme of things but it nevertheless caused massive structural damage, tragic loss of life, and much subsequent suffering for the people of Christchurch.

When the inevitable big one does hit, it will be far more devastating and it will deal a catastrophic blow to our precarious economy. The economic effects could last for decades.

We will all be victims.

Think about it

Thanks Wikipedia

The late broadcaster Paul Holmes—no stranger to hyperbole and not one to let the facts get in the way of a good story—stated on NewsTalk ZB that it was the “big one” we’d been waiting for. They played his misleading clip over and over several times a day for weeks to reinforce the wrong message.

The Wellington Fault runs smack-bang through the cities of Wellington, Lower Hutt, and Upper Hutt. The inevitable big quake there is yet to come.

It’s not ignorance does so much damage; it’s knowing so darned much that ain’t so. Josh Billings

The first Canterbury earthquake was far smaller than the Wellington or Wairarapa Fault earthquakes are likely to be and the second even smaller. Wellington can look forward to a quake which is likely to be at least an order of magnitude more devastating than the Canterbury quakes. 7.1 on the Richter Scale is at the low end of serious earthquakes.

Here’s why it’s a problem:

Continue reading