Impact Cratering on EarthIt must be remembered that impact is a random process not only in space but also in time. The next large impact with the Earth could be an "impact-winter"-producing event or even a K-T-sized event. To emphasize this point, in March 1989 an asteroidal body named 1989 FC passed within 700,000 km of the Earth. This Earth-crossing body was not discovered until it had passed the Earth. It is estimated to be in the 0.5 km size-range, capable of producing a Zhamanshin-sized crater or a devastating tsunami. Although 700,000 km is a considerable distance, it translates to a miss of the Earth by only a few hours, when orbital velocities are considered. At present, no systems or procedures are in place, specifically for mitigating the effects of an impact.
The Day the Sands Caught Fire Cometary impact craters in Saudi Arabia
Meteor Clue To End Of Middle East Civilisations Found
It's a 3600 year cycle, and the last vist was around 1600 BC (On site link: article from the Independent with Laura's notes)
Asteroid Buzzes Earth and Nobody notices...(New Scientist) One of the largest asteroids known to have approached the Earth zipped past about 450,000 kilometres away on March 8 - but nobody recorded it until four days later.
Supernova linked to one mass extinction (New Scientist)- smoking gun evidence.Global Warming and Earth Changes Brown dwarf is orbiting a star called 15 Sagittae BBC (Sge), which is about one to three billion years old, making it slightly younger than our Sun. It is located approximately 58 light-years from Earth. It is separated from its parent star by less than the distance that separates the planet Uranus from the Sun. This makes it the smallest-separation brown-dwarf companion yet seen directly.
Cosmic Catastrophe a Certainty -(BBC) According to Dr Arnon Dar, of the Technion Space Research Institute, Israel, a particular type of exploding star going off anywhere in our region of the Universe would devastate our planet. [...] Dr Dar points out that many of the great extinctions that regularly punctuate the Earth's history are consistent with being caused by a devastating influx of radiation from space. He then adds: "Direct proof that it happened this way is lacking at present," he said, "but many people are looking for it."
Comment: We are curious as to why so many scientists have to stretch to explain catastrophism by exploding stars instead of accepting the obvious fact that it is a cyclic event that is the result of factors within our own solar system, i.e. the Oort cloud, a companion star, and clusters of cometary/asteroid bodies?
Social Scientists Prepare for Asteroid Impacts (Space.com) On Friday, April 12, 2002, a handful of leading social scientists will gather for the first international workshop on the societal impact of a large asteroid or comet colliding with Earth. Held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Western Psychological Association in Irvine, California, this full-day session on Managing Global-Scale Disasters will help psychologists, sociologists, and management specialists play catch-up in an area that has gotten increasing attention in the physical sciences in recent years.
Comment: Perhaps our ongoing efforts over the past six years - to bring this matter to the attention of the public is having some effect. The cat is out of the bag, and they know it. This is as close to an admission that they are going to make at present that, not only is it likely, but that it is known in advance when it will occur. And that will be a lot sooner than they are saying at present.
Evidence Found for New Form of Ultra Dense Matter (Space.com) The [...] object, called 3C-58, became a new star in the sky in the year 1181, when it exploded.
Comment: What we find most interesting is the date of the nova - 1181 - and remarks made by the C's about how nova type explosions can affect human progress. See: Supernovae
Comment (link goes to on site article)
A third of a tonne of extraterrestrial bacteria (New Scientist) could be raining down on Earth every day.
U.S. Summons Experts to Draft Asteroid Defense Plan - (National Geographic)The U.S. federal government is summoning the world's top scientists to an urgent conference this summer to plan defenses against an attack that could wipe out an American city or disrupt the whole country's infrastructure. [...] While the world's attention is focused on the real threat of terrorism, the theoretical asteroid menace has been garnering a surprising amount of behind-the-scenes attention. [Why are we not surprised. See: Cometary Showers, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse? (On site link)]
Go to Earthweek for a weekly diary of our planet.
Today, mass extinction from cometary impact is considered mainstream science, supported by a huge body of physical evidence. In Donnelly's time it was unknown that cometary or asteroid impacts had even occurred on this planet. ...this event destroyed a civilization which had high technology, a civilization which vanished completely except for some myths; the disaster was accompanied by catastrophic fire followed by years-long cloud cover and extreme cold. Humanity survived only by hiding in deep caves; when they re-emerged they had to restart civilization from scratch. ...The book When the Earth Nearly Died by D.S. Allan and J.B. Delair  (reissued as Cataclysm: Compelling Evidence of a Cosmic Catastrophe in 9500 B.C.), brought together a mass of evidence that a catastrophic impact of extrasolar material occurred in 9,500 B.C.
Space rock's close approach (BBC) on 14 June, an asteroid the size of a football pitch [field] made one of the closest ever recorded approaches to the Earth. It is only the sixth time an asteroid has been seen to penetrate the Moon's orbit, and this is by far the biggest rock to do so. What has worried some astronomers, though, is that the space object was only detected on 17 June, several days after its flyby.
Asteroids Hold Clues to Saving Earth - (Discovery) Now, just who thinks that Earth needs saving from asteroids? Somebody who knows something they aren't telling the rest of us? Also see: Asteroid Tsunamis Could be Huge, Slow (Discovery)
Fossils point to asteroid causing dinosaurs' demise (New Scientist)
Big asteroid to be close enough for binoculars - (CNN) The space rock, 2002 NY40, is not to be mistaken for 2002 NT7, another newly discovered asteroid that generated headlines last month when scientists briefly mused that it would smack into our planet in 2019.
One Asteroid Can Ruin Your Day - (Wired News)The more likely threat from collisions with asteroids and comets comes not from chunks of space rock the size of Texas, as in the movie Armageddon, but rather from objects mere tenths of a mile across, which are harder to find and track.
Our world is being bombarded -- (Wired News) by reports of asteroids coming oh-so-close to crashing into Earth. - "Big asteroids have hit Earth before and it's only a matter of time before one threatens us again. Will it be years, decades, millions of years? No one knows," read a recent NASA press release.
Space rock 'on collision course' (BBC) The Reader who sent this one in remarked: "This is a very interesting article -- the "first ever" object to have a positive value for it's rating as potential of impact, *but* "...the error in our knowledge of where NT7 will be on 1 February, 2019, is large, several tens of millions of kilometres..." More slow release of stuff to "acclimatize" folks? Anyway, it's down to 2019 now... How long before it's 2012? ;-)
Asteroid Impact Set Off Hiroshima- Sized Air Blast On June 6 - (Rense) Early Warning Center For Asteroids Needed Says USAF - The reader who sent this in commented: "I don't recall ever seeing so many asteroid/comet items in the *mainstream* press before, almost on a daily basis at times it seems, which can only mean that something is afoot..." Indeed, see our articles: The Future of the Beast Empire and Has Nibiru/Planet X Been Sighted?
Comets: A key to a parallel universe - (The Independent) Comets may be composed of matter hitherto unknown to science, according to a physicist in Australia. If he's right, we may at last have found the identity of the mysterious "dark matter" believed to make up at least 90 per cent of the mass of the universe. What's more, it could mean there is another universe occupying our own, complete with invisible stars, planets and even life.
An asteroid about a half mile (800 meters) across (CNN)will pass close enough to Earth this weekend to observe with a small telescope or binoculars, astronomers said. - Another one, NY40, later this month will glide to within 330,000 miles (530,000 km) from Earth, slightly farther than the distance of the moon.
Some scientists have suggested nuclear bombs to deflect a big comet (CNN) or asteroid from a collision course with our planet. One researcher has a more novel solution: a giant air bag. - An atomic detonation would do little to stop some types of asteroids - computer simulations indicate that such a blast could split an incoming asteroid or comet into more fragments that remain on a collision course. - The mathematician proposes that a spacecraft could approach the object and inflate a bag several kilometers wide using a chemical reaction to make gas. The probe would then push the bag against the incoming asteroid or comet. The bag would distribute pressure evenly and nudge the object away without fragmenting it, Burchard suggested.
Comment: Why is this subject an item of such intense, repeating interest? Hmmmm??? Does it tie into the Bush Regime agenda?
Until recently, impacts by extraterrestrial bodies were regarded as, perhaps, an interesting but certainly not an important phenomenon in the spectrum of geological process affecting the Earth. As we have seen, this has only been the case since Lyell, Laplace and Newton put a period to such speculations. What seems to have happened is that, through repeated cataclysms, man has been brought low, relegated to darkness regarding his history, and at the very point when he began to study and analyze his environment objectively, religion stepped in and put a period to such ideas. Velikovsky's work was vilified by the scientific community, and shortly after, there came an onslaught of ideas promoting extraterrestrials as the source of civilizational anomalies and then, of course, the famous 10th Planet hypothesis to explain away planetary disruptions that could not be adequately concealed.
The question is, why? What, in the name of all things reasonable, would prompt anyone to wish to hide these matters? What kind of sick mind would divert the attention of humanity away from what is evident all over the planet to those with open eyes, and promote so assiduously ideas that mislead, misguide, and generally placate the populace with an assurance that either nothing is going to happen, or if it does, it will be preceded by a long period of approach by a body that is well organized and clearly seen, and that the government can probably "fix it?"
Well, the clue is right there: "placate the populace." Control.
But, Heavenly days! What kind of lunatics would want to keep everything under control in that sense if they have some idea that they, themselves, might be destroyed by the very processes they are concealing?
Obviously, they don't think so. Obviously, they think they have a plan. And that suggests that, obviously, they know a lot more about what's going on, what the possibilities and probabilities are, than the rest of us. [From Adventures With Cassiopaea]
A space rock big enough to cause widespread damage and death (CNN) will hit the Earth only about once every 1,000 years, but experts say the destruction would be so extreme that nations should develop a joint defense against asteroids. - Such a rock, estimated at 180 feet across, scorched through the atmosphere over Tunguska in Siberia in 1908 and flattened trees across 800 square miles of forest land. No crater was found and experts believe the damage came from atmospheric shock.
The United States spends between $3.5 million and $4 million a year to track asteroids and comets (CNN) that might hit Earth at some point, but little on strategies to get our planet out of the way, said astronomer Don Yeomans of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Boulder-Size Meteor Almost Struck Australia? - (Reuters) Residents of Goolwa and Victor Harbour, south of the state capital Adelaide, inundated police with reports of a flash of blue light, smoke trails and two sonic booms. Bryan Boyle of the Anglo-Australian space-watching telescope in the eastern state of New South Wales told the Australian Broadcasting Corp that the sightings suggested the object was a meteor which came within 19 miles of the ground.
Astronomers on Friday were investigating (CNN) reports from southern Australia of a bright blue flash and loud booms. One said it probably was a comet, while another suggested it was debris from a space mission.
An object recently detected in a chaotic Earth orbit (CNN) is possibly a section from one the largest rockets ever built, a NASA monster taller than a football field that carried men to the moon, scientists said. - There was one caveat. Chodas, a research scientist with the space agency's Near Earth Program Office in California, which monitors potentially hazardous space boulders, noted that the object "could not be associated with any recent launch." - Dubbed J002E3, the enigma could be the third-stage of a Saturn V rocket, which took Apollo astronauts to the moon from 1969 to 1972, Chodas said. If so, why did the big scrap of metal remain undetected for so long? It probably escaped Earth's gravitational influence for years, according to NASA.
Comment: Somehow, I am suspicious about this item.
BBC: New 'moon' found around Earth - An amateur astronomer may have found another moon of the Earth. Experts say it may have only just arrived. Much uncertainty surrounds the mysterious object, designated J002E2. It could be a passing chunk of rock captured by the Earth's gravity, or it could be a discarded rocket casing coming back to our region of space. - It was discovered by Bill Yeung from his observatory in Arizona and reported as a passing Near-Earth Object. It was soon realised however that far from passing us it was in a 50-day orbit around the Earth. Paul Chodas of Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California says it must have just arrived or it would have been easily detected long ago. Calculations suggest it may have been captured earlier this year.
Something odd is circling our planet. (NASA) It's small, perhaps only 60-ft long, and rotates once every minute or so. Bill Yeung, an amateur astronomer in California, first spotted the 16th magnitude speck of light on Sept. 3rd in the constellation Pisces. He named it J002E3. (Picture available at the link above.)
Occasional killer asteroids (CNN) could have spawned temporary rings of debris around Earth and played a major role in changing the world climate, according to U.S. scientists.
The first known object to be captured in Earth orbit (CNN) probably will escape the gravitational clutches of the planet sometime next year, according to NASA scientists. The mysterious rambler, a suspected space rock later identified as leftover junk from a manned moon mission, began orbiting Earth in April but probably will go into an orbit around the sun in June, said Paul Chodas of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program, which monitors nearby space objects.
Scientists looked for a legendary group of asteroids(CNN) that might circle the sun closer than Mercury. - The innermost region of the solar system has been the subject of considerable debate since the late 19th Century, when many astronomers concluded that perturbations in Mercury's orbit must be caused by a hidden planet, dubbed "Vulcan" after the Roman god of fire and metallurgy.
Another Meteor Spotted Monday Night - A fireball shot through the Colorado sky Monday evening for the second consecutive night at nearly the same time. - The Cloudbait Observatory Web site reports that the Rocky Mountain region "has experienced a very unusual burst of fireball activity." - The observatory received a total of 560 reports of Sunday night's fireball from seven states. - Preliminary analysis of witness reports suggests the Sunday fireball was a meteor that may have exploded 10 to 20 miles above eastern Utah or western Colorado, said Peterson, a member of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science meteorite investigation team.
A burning object seen streaking across West Midlands UK skies on Sunday morning may have been a meteor, astronomers have said. Its passage was followed by a bright flash which lit up the sky. - It has been an eventful period for the West Midlands in nature terms, with the region shaken by an earth tremor on 23 September. Comment: A member of our research team points out that things are getting just a BIT weird.... Have a look at the following:
Friday, 13 September 2002 - falling meteorite Friday night -Colorado, Wyoming or Nebraska
Wednesday 18 September 2002 - A suspected meteorite crashed in a ball of fire in Sri Lanka, burning down trees and scattering particles over a celebrated giant rock, officials and scientists said yesterday.
Thursday 03 October 2002- Large Meteorite Falls on the Irkutsk Region -Residents of the town of Bodaibo in the Irkutsk region witnessed the fall of a large celestial body. Scientists suggest that it might have been a meteorite. This was reported by the regional department of the Russian EMERCOM. They added that they received the information from the Institute of Solar and Earth Physics of the Siberian division of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
And now another one on October 6? And then this?
Asteroids regularly explode over the Earth with the intensity of a nuclear bomb; the explosions could be mistaken for a nuclear attack and even trigger an atomic war, an Air Force general said Thursday. - At least 30 times a year, a space rock measuring a few yards across slashes into the atmosphere and explodes, releasing energy equal to that of an atomic bomb, Air Force Brig. Gen. Simon Worden told subcommittee members.
Comment: Makes ya wonder what they are preparing us for... What do they know that we don't know? Since when does this happen "30 times a year?" When is the last time you heard of it happening that often? See also: While astronomers scan the skies for killer asteroids, smaller cosmic boulders pose a greater overall risk and could even spark a nuclear conflict, space and military representatives told a congressional hearing Thursday. Sounds to us like the shower of Comets predicted by the C's for the past eight years is showing up on schedule. And, if they are right, it's gonna get a LOT Worse. Keep in mind Bush is acting like a "driven" man. Our guess is that he is simply an Organic Portal running a program. Keep the following in mind:
August 24, 2002
Q: Since we know from Dolan that the real "elite" are not those who form our visible government, do any of those in the White House have awareness of the REAL reason these plans are being driven at this time?
Comment Those who are at that level have been bought and paid for by both giving knowledge of upcoming cataclysmic events, and promised survival and positions of power after. It is not difficult to realize that there is a body of such types in positions of power already. Power is not only attractive to such types, they are the kind most easily courrpted by it.
Comets heralded the Coming of the Cassiopaeans: From Amazing Grace:
On July 16, 1994, at our weekly Saturday afternoon sitting, we were all a bit excited at the latest news from space. Fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy were soon to begin a series of collisions with the planet Jupiter, an extremely rare cosmic event. The impacts were supposed to continue for the next seven days, and I was very interested to see if this would have any noticeable effect on Earth. - Slowly, the planchette precisely and deliberately spelled "Hello." - Q: (L) Where are you from? A: Cassiopaea. - The next session, on the last day of the Comet Shoemaker-Levy impacts with Jupiter, the barrier between realms collapsed, quite literally with a thunderous crash. It was July 22nd .
See Also: Cometary Showers: Four Horsement of the Apocalypse? (on site link)
Astronomers have fashioned an Earth-sized virtual radio telescope (CNN) that can distinguish celestial features 3,000 times smaller than the those observed by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Large Meteorite Falls on the Irkutsk Region (Pravda) -Residents of the town of Bodaibo in the Irkutsk region witnessed the fall of a large celestial body. Scientists suggest that it might have been a meteorite. This was reported by the regional department of the Russian EMERCOM. They added that they received the information from the Institute of Solar and Earth Physics of the Siberian division of the Russian Academy of Sciences.Global Warming on Pluto Puzzles Scientists - (space.com) Voyager found dark material rising above Triton, indicating possible eruptive activity. - "There could be more massive activity on Pluto, since the changes observed in Pluto's atmosphere are much more severe," Elliot said. "The change observed on Triton was subtle. Pluto's changes are not subtle." - We just don't know what is causing these effects."
Comment: Something Wicked This Way Comes... and it isn't Planet X.
In 1987, a naked-eye supernova erupted in the Large Magellanic Cloud, (space.com) a satellite galaxy of our Milky Way. Unfortunately, at a distance of 190,000 light years, that supernova appeared no brighter to us than a fourth magnitude star. But during the past thousand years, there have been four recorded supernova in our own galaxy that were truly dazzling to the eye. There is a record of a brilliant supernova that appeared in the year 1006 in the constellation of Lupus, the Wolf. That explosion may have even rivaled the one that would appear in 1054. Another supernova in 1572 flared out in Cassiopeia, the Queen, and was extensively observed by the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. Yet another appeared in the year 1604, this time in the constellation of Ophiuchus, the Serpent Holder. Unfortunately, the appearance of this final supernova occurred just several years before the invention of the telescope. No other such dazzlers have appeared in our sky since. One has to believe that we are long overdue for another, that some night soon a new star will suddenly appear in the sky. Perhaps tonight will be that night.
The U.S. Department of Defense has confirmed an apparent space rock (space.com) that lit a fire in the night sky above a remote region of Siberia last month. Meanwhile, scientists struggle to pin down whether or not the object slammed into the planet. - Failing to properly identify a cosmic object as it slams into the planet could result in an unnecessary nuclear exchange, some military and asteroid analysts warn. Evidence for an actual impact near Bodaibo has not been verified by scientists. - "Unfortunately, at present we do not know exactly what happen there," said Michael Nazarov of the Laboratory of Meteoritics Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry. "The Bodaibo [seismic] station recorded a signal which cannot be easily interpreted." Other seismic recorders farther from the event recorded nothing, indicating that if the rock did survive its heated plunge through the atmosphere to hit the ground, the impact was relatively small.
NASA eyes lasers to divert asteroids -(UPI) Although there is only a remote chance an asteroid will strike Earth in the near future, the spectacular crash of the Shoemaker-Levy comet into the planet Jupiter in 1993 and a razor-thin miss between an asteroid and Earth only last year have sharpened attention on work NASA has been doing to prevent impacts and their devastating results. Even a small asteroid or comet only about 100 meters across could cause tremendous damage. An asteroid of that size flattened 2,000 square miles of forest in Siberia in 1908. Though there is only a 1-in-250,000 chance of impact, an asteroid roughly 1.2 kilometer across -- big enough to destroy a continent on impact -- is expected to pass near Earth on Feb. 1, 2019.
Big red fireball awes Winnipeg driver, (canada.com) spectacle likely comet chunk or debris. Stanley Sladek said he could not believe his eyes when a big red fireball moved across the night sky as he was driving down a city street with his girlfriend early Saturday morning. "It would be hard to believe if someone was telling me this, but that's what we saw," he said. Sladek described the fireball as dark pink on the outside and a lighter colour toward the centre. "The people that were beside us, they honked their horn just for a sec to get our attention, and they were doing hand gestures." The fireball appeared to be travelling toward the southeast before it dropped an egg-shaped white light, broke in two and faded away shortly after 1 a.m., Sladek said. "An airplane would not move that fast." Astronomer and UFO expert Chris Rutkowski said the fireball was probably a chunk of comet or satellite debris burning up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere.
Comment: The only problem is, this is happening more and more frequently ALL around the BBM.
Earth's little brother found? - (BBC) Astronomers have discovered the first object ever that is in a companion orbit to the Earth. Asteroid 2002 AA29 is only about 100 metres wide and never comes closer than 3.6 million miles to our planet. But it shares the Earth's orbit around the Sun, at first on one side of the Earth and then escaping to travel along our planet's path around the Sun until it encounters the Earth from the other side. Then it goes back again.
Comment: Is it REALLY an "asteroid?"
Does the Sun have a doomsday twin? -(The Telegraph) In 1846, researchers noticed that Uranus was wobbling in a way that confounded Newton's Law of Motion. This meant they had two options: rewrite the most time-honoured of the laws of physics, or "invent" a new planet to account for the extra gravitational pull. Compared to Newton's reputation, an eighth planet seemed much less massive and Neptune was discovered.
Today scientists working in the University of Louisiana have discovered a statistical anomaly of similar proportions. Professors John Matese, Patrick Whitman and Daniel Whitmire have studied the orbits of comets for 20 years, and their recent findings have led to startling theories. -
Intrigued by the work of two palaeontologists working for the University of Chicago, Prof Whitmire, along with Nasa colleague Dr Al Jackson, had earlier attempted to explain the amazing discovery that six apocalyptic events, including the extinction of the dinosaurs, have all occurred, like clockwork, every 26 to 30 million years. To try to explain this mass extinction cycle, they looked to the possibility that comet showers were to blame.
The latest effort of Matese, Whitman and Whitmire studies 82 comets from the huge cloud of comets, called the Oort cloud, that exists around our solar system. They took the aphelia of these comets, the points on their orbit that are farthest from our Sun, and plotted them on a globe. Expecting to find an even distribution, they instead found that a particular band of sky, about one sixth the total, contained more than one quarter of all the comets, and that about 25 per cent of the comets coming from this cloud have anomalous paths. So what was affecting the orbits? They went on to theorise that the best explanation is the existence of a previously unknown body - that our solar system is made up of the Sun and a shadowy partner, either a brown dwarf or a massive planet, in a wide binary system. In effect, the solar system had two stars, the Sun and a dark companion, spinning around each other. -
Now I know what you're thinking Surely I'd have noticed a second Sun in the sky? But, as Prof Whitmire explained, the process of assumption based on statistical anomalies has always been a cornerstone of scientific discovery. According to their current theory, he says, "the companion is a brown dwarf star or massive planet of mass between two and six times the mass of Jupiter". A brown dwarf is a star too small to sustain the nuclear fusion that powers our Sun, and so is relatively cool (surface temperature of less than 1500C) and so also very dim, being barely hot enough to give off light. -
But it gets worse. Under their original theory, called the Nemesis theory, this small dark star, which lurks at around 90,000 times farther away than the Earth is from the Sun, may be on an orbit that, once every 30 million years, ploughs it into the densely packed inner cloud. Here its immense gravitational pull would drag out several of the Oort comets and give them the "kick" needed to send them towards the Sun on orbits perilously close to the Earth. This explains, in the professor's view, the ominous mass extinction cycle, due to regular periods of increased cometary activity every 30 million years.
Asteroid twice as large as expected, (CNN) according to NASA scientists, who on Tuesday released the first image of the encounter. After the Stardust craft passed within 2,000 miles (3,300 km) of asteroid Annefrank, mission researchers determined that it is about 5 miles (8 km) in diameter. The crater-pocked, oddly shaped boulder turned out to reflect much less sunlight than originally thought, which accounted for the error of the earlier size estimate. NASA spacecraft swept within 1,900 miles of a small asteroid in a practice run before a much closer brush with a comet scheduled for January 2004. - The flyby was intended to allow flight controllers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to hone skills that will be needed January 2, 2004, when Stardust is scheduled to fly within 100 miles of the comet Wild-2's nucleus. - The $200 million Stardust mission was launched in February 1999.
Mars to Get Closer than Ever in Recorded History (Space.com) in 2003 - Mars recently emerged into the morning sky and has begun an orbital dance with Earth that will, over the next several months, lead to the best viewing opportunity since Neanderthals looked skyward. - For now it appears rather small in the sky and low on the horizon. However, this is only the beginning of what will turn out to be the most dramatic and spectacular Mars apparition you or any of your ancestors has ever had a chance to see. - The Red Planet is getting progressively closer to Earth with each passing night, and consequently it will slowly appear to grow larger and brighter. By late August 2003, when it will be about 191 million miles closer, the reddish point of light in our night sky will appear more than six times larger and shine some 85 times brighter than it appears now. - At 5:51 a.m. EDT on Aug. 27, 2003, Mars will be within 34,646,488 miles (55,746,199 kilometers) of Earth. This will be the closest that Mars has come to our planet in about 73,000 years, based on detailed computations by Jean Meeus of Belgium. - At the close approach, the Red Planet will be brighter than Jupiter and all the stars in the night sky, outshone only by Venus and the Moon.