'Doomsday Comet' Elenin to swing by earth today (well, 22 million miles away)
16th October 2011
The 'Doomsday Comet' Elenin will make its closest approach to earth today, something conspiracy theorists have long feared.
The comet started breaking up in August after being blasted by a huge solar storm so tomorrow, when it comes to within 22 million miles of earth, it will be a stream of debris rather than an intact comet.
Astronomer Don Yeomans of the Near-Earth Object Programme Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, told Space.com: 'Folks are having trouble finding it, so I think it's probably dead and gone.'
Doomsday comet: Elenin will pass by the earth tomorrow but will mainly consist of debris
Journey: NASA today stepped in to try to allay baseless fears that a comet heading into the solar system from deep space will trigger disaster on Earth
That means anyone who wants to get a glimpse of the comet on Sunday will have to have their binoculars or telescopes out.
Previous rumours about Elenin said the comet was going to be a major threat to earth and set off havoc by causing major earthquakes and tsunamis.
Others said that Elenin was not a comet at all, but in fact a rogue planet called Nibiru that would bring about the end times on Earth.
But Mr Yeomans said that all these theories were nonsense: 'Elenin was a second-rate, wimpy little comet that never should have been noted for anything, really. t was not even a bright one.'
Asteroid: One day after the Elenin flyby, the small asteroid 2009 TM8 will zip close by but, like Elenin, it poses no risk of striking earth
According to Space.com, Elenin's remains will not be the only objects about to make their closest pass of Earth.
One day after the Elenin flyby, the small asteroid 2009 TM8 will zip close by. Like Elenin, it poses no risk of striking earth.
Elenin was discovered by Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin in December 2010.
It never posed any threat to life on Earth, Mr Yeomans said. It was far too small to exert any appreciable influence on our planet unless it managed to hit us.
'Just driving to work every day in my subcompact car is going to have far more of a gravitational effect on Earth than this comet ever will,' he said.
Elenin's supposed connection to earthquakes was just a correlation, and a weak one at that, he added. There is nothing to worry about.
'It's time to move on to the next Armageddon,' he said