Five Astronomical Non-events of 2019

Five Astronomical Non-events of 2019
This crater was created when a big space rock hit what's now Arizona, USA. [Image credit: prize-winning photo of Meteor Crater with the Milky Way and airglow, taken by Joe Neely. Via EarthSky]]

Every year we're warned of grim non-events. The predictions don't come to pass, but still keep coming. Some favorites are a massive asteroid impact, Nibiru looming and the dangers of a supermoon. Added to 2019's mix were the imminent collapse of the Moon and some concern about the alien base on Mercury.

Warning: here comes asteroid 2006 QY89
News outlets picked up the story about 2006 QY89, but the tabloids went to town on it. British publication The Sun provided speculation and drama without boring its readers with too many facts. Its headline:
Huge 164-foot asteroid could crash into Earth THIS YEAR at 27,400mph and ‘flatten area bigger than London’, space agency warns

ESA (the European Space Agency) has a list of asteroids whose orbits aren't yet well determined. Each item is also assessed for the probability of a collision, and the list is kept updated with current information.

QY89 had been listed because it hadn't been tracked enough to calculate its orbit precisely. It would indeed be a disaster if it were to collide with us. However, even with the knowledge available, the likelihood of a collision was about 1 in 7000. In July, further observation ruled out such an impact. And in August the asteroid's orbit was confirmed, so QY89 was removed from the risk list.

Nibiru is near? Where?
Some readers may recall that the nonexistent planet Nibiru has been named as the instrument of Earth's doom for many years, despite there having been not the slightest sign of its existence. Nonetheless, in November an Israeli movie producer warned that Niburu is close. His “evidence” was an increase in the number of asteroids coming close to Earth – Nibiru was scattering them in our direction.

First of all, our ability to detect the asteroids passing between us and the Moon has improved. But there's no evidence of more asteroids. Second of all, don't you wonder why no one has detected Nibiru if it's close enough to throw asteroids at us?

Beware the Supermoon plus planetary alignment?
Since the Moon's orbit isn't circular, it's not always exactly the same distance from us. If it's a full moon (or a new moon) when it's at its closest, some people call it a “supermoon”. The January 2019 full moon was such a moon. Except for the eclipse, it didn't really look different to an ordinary full moon, and the gravitational effect is tiny.

There are people who say that a supermoon causes strong earthquakes and devastating tides. (It doesn't.) Others claim that when planets are aligned there are cataclysmic effects. (No, that's not how gravity works.)

One self-styled Dutch “earthquake forecaster” predicted that the combination of a supermoon on January 20 plus a rare planetary alignment would cause earthquakes of 7.5 or more on the Richter Scale. It was because the other planets pulling in different directions on the Earth would stress the tectonic plates that underlie the crust.

This was too silly even for The Sun, which said:
DARK SIDE OF THE MOON: ‘Super blood wolf moon’ may trigger end of the world this weekend, crackpot conspiracy theorists claim

Gravity weakens rapidly with distance. Although Jupiter is massive, it's a long way off, and its gravitational effect on Earth is less than 1% that of the Moon. Venus is closer than Jupiter, but smaller, and has even less effect. From January 18-January 23, there were no earthquakes measuring 7.0 or more.

The Moon is about to collapse
British publication The Express asked:
NASA SHOCK: Is the Moon about to COLLAPSE?
'Science is backing the Bible' preacher claims

NASA said that as the Moon's interior cooled, the surface “shrivelled up like a raisin.” In other words, since the crust isn't flexible, it cracked to form what are called “thrust faults”. These are found all around the surface. There is evidence of Mercury shrinking in the same way. It's interesting that, even after a few billion years, the Moon may still be settling. Instruments left on the Moon recorded moonquakes, but the shrinkage is exceedingly slow, and the Moon is not expected to collapse.

Yet at least one doomsday preacher in the USA said, “There was a report out yesterday the Moon is shrinking. Inside the Moon is like a raisin – they're saying that the Moon is starting to shrink like a raisin shrinks.” He claims that these signs from the Moon are actually the fulfilment of Biblical prophecies and a sign of the end times.

ETs on Mercury
Do photos from NASA probes contain evidence of alien constructions? Some people think so, and The Express keeps us informed.
Alien structure SPOTTED on Mercury '100 percent proof of extraterrestrials'

The author of this claim said that there was a structure in a crater “[that] is . . . stealth black probably so it wont [sic] reflect radar and so it wont [sic] stand out.” He thinks the aliens built it to try to hide from other aliens. I checked the man's website – he really did say that it's “100 percent PROOF” of alien life.

Here's his proof, an enlargement of part of a low resolution image taken by a NASA probe. 100% proof of aliens? What do you think?

You Should Also Read:
What Is a Supermoon
Lunar Eclipses
10 Amazing Facts about Mercury

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