Fireball fuels end-of-world scare

Hubble image shows two large fragments disintegrating (Nasa)

A brilliant exploding fireball has fuelled a scare sweeping the internet that a giant meteor will strike the Earth on Thursday killing tens of millions.
The fears, previously reported here, were sparked by a former air traffic controller as the closest comet to pass us for 23 years broke up into millions of pieces.
Stargazers watched in awe this week as the comet went through its death throes. The biggest fragments are visible with the naked eye or binoculars.
On Tuesday a space rock, said to be the size of a fridge and travelling at 36,000mph, flared as a spectacular fireball in the atmosphere above Australia’s east cost.
The meteor was taken by scaremongers to boost predictions by French military airman Eric Julien that Armageddon is due this week on Thursday May 25.
He has written four articles and set up a website warning that a fragment of the comet, named Schwassmann-Wachmann 3, will strike the Atlantic.
He claims it will activate underwater volcanoes and cause a devastating tsunami.
Julien also says that FEMA, the American organisaton dealing with disasters, is to go ahead with a tsunami alert exercise between Tuesday and Thursday this week.
His website – http://www.savelivesinmay.com – includes detailed maps showing how he believes the comet impact will wipe out the Atlantic coastline and its inhabitants.
Emergency services down Australia’s east coast were inundated with calls about the bright green fireball spotted this week. One farmer at Warwick, Queensland, rang saying he thought a plane had crashed on his land.
Local astronomer Andre Claydon, of the Springbrook Observatory near the Gold Coast, explained to local press that meteors are debris from comets. He told me his remarks were misinterpreted by other media as saying the fireball was a chunk of Comet SW-3.
Nasa, which has used space telescopes to monitor the comet’s break-up, insists that none of the pieces will come closer than six million miles.
They have been desperately trying to quell the scare sparked by Julien, who directed air traffic for the military at Rheims in Northern France and became a senior manager at Paris’s Orly airport.
Julien says: “The size of this space object will be too small for our telescopes since it will be a small lagging fragment of a comet.
“Scientists will be surprised by this object, having little time to see it coming, hardly a few dozen hours.”
Julien says his “evidence” is a vision that came to him and was confirmed by a telepathic message from aliens.
As we previously reported, Nasa expert Donald Yeomans, has said: “This is a rare opportunity to watch a comet in its death throes and from very close range.
“But there is absolutely no danger to people on the ground.”

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.
Paul Sutherland

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Paul Sutherland

I have been a professional journalist for nearly 40 years. I write regularly for science magazines including BBC Sky at Night magazine, BBC Focus, Astronomy Now and Popular Astronomy. I have also authored three books on astronomy and contributed to others.

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