I have had an interest in astronomy for much of my life, and for much of the past 15 years or so that interest has focused on comets and asteroids. I even own a fragment of a meteorite that I keep on a shelf with my science books (along with my jar of ash from Mt. St. Helens – that’s another story). Years ago I wrote a paper on the Impact Theory as the cause of the dinosaur extinction and have been fascinated by the subject ever since, even going as far as to visit several impact crater sites in the Southeastern United States: Wetumpka; Flynn Creek; and Wells Creek. And I even managed to have an e-mail discussion with the Dr. Walter Alvarez that I was able to incorporate into my paper. I dare say that was one of the most memorable and meaningful experiences of my life.
This week, two distinctive events have brought the subject of cosmic impacts on the Earth back to the forefront of my mind: the spectacularly close passing of Asteroid 2012 DA14 tonight; and the equally spectacular destruction of a slightly smaller meteorite (about 1/3 the size of 2012 DA14) over the Ural Mountains that actually caused damage to buildings and injuries to bystanders.