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Click on the image to learn more about this artist's impression a a new family of asteroids from NASA/JPL-Caltech
Are you ready for impact?
IPS partners with Asteroid Day
From article by the same name in Planetarian, Vol. 45, No. 2, June 2016
Asteroid Day and the International Planetarium Society have joined forces. Asteroid Day is an annual global awareness campaign that allows people from around the world come together to learn about asteroids and what we can do to protect our planet, families, communities, and future generations from asteroid impacts. The International Planetarium Society is in partnership with Asteroid Day to support this worldwide public education effort about asteroids and the associated science and scientists working in the field.
In February 2014, Dr. Brian May, astrophysicist and famed guitarist for the rock band Queen, began working with Grigorij Richters, the director of a new film titled 51 Degrees North, a fictional story of an asteroid impact on London and the resulting human condition.
May composed the music for the film and suggested that Richters preview it at Starmus, an event organized by Dr. Garik Israelian and attended by esteemed astrophysicists, scientists, and artists, including Dr. Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, and Rick Wakeman—plus planetarians like Thomas Kraupe. The result was the beginning of discussions that would lead to the launch of Asteroid Day in 2015.
To ensure that the movement had global support, Dr. May then introduced Richters to the B612 Foundation, an American-based non-profit advocacy organization created to protect the world from dangerous asteroids through early detection.
In all, there are 4 co-founders for Asteroid Day: May, Richters, Schweickart, and Remy.
Richters’ next move was to engage Dr. Mark Boslough, a well-respected asteroid scientist, to join Rusty Schweickart in organizing the Asteroid Day Expert Panel, and Dave Eicher, editor of Astronomy magazine, who became the editor-in-chief of the day. Through ensuing conversations with all players, the concept for a day dedicated to asteroid awareness around the globe was born. Now to “make it happen.”
The 100X Declaration
Part of Asteroid Day is the 100X Declaration, which calls for three actions:
The date of June 30 was selected because it is the anniversary of the largest impact in recent history, the 1908 Tunguska event in Siberia.
“The more we learn about asteroid impacts, the clearer it became that the human race has been living on borrowed time,” remarked May. “Asteroid Day and the 100X Declaration are ways for the public to contribute to an awareness of the Earth’s vulnerability and the realization that Asteroids hit Earth all the time. Asteroid Day would the vehicle to garner public support to increase our knowledge of when asteroids might strike and how we can protect ourselves.”
“Early warning is the essential ingredient of planetary defense,” said Schweickart. “Time is the issue. At the current rate of discovery of 20-meter NEOs and larger at about 1,000 per year, it will take more than 1,000 years to find one million NEOs that potentially threaten Earth. That’s a long time and even then we’d have reached only 10% or so of the Chelyabinsk-size objects that potentially threaten impact.”
A press conference to announce the launch of Asteroid Day was held simultaneously in London and San Francisco on December 3, 2014. Representing Asteroid Day in London were Richters, May, and Rees, and in San Francisco, Schweikart, Lu, and Astronaut Tom Jones, president of the Association of Space Explorers (ASE). Lord Martin Rees read the 100X Declaration, and the list of signatories for the declaration rapidly grew to include hundreds of esteemed scientists, physicists, astronauts, and Nobel Laureates from 30 countries and leaders in business and the arts.
Original signers include Anousheh Ansari, Stewart Brand, Brian Cox, Richard Dawkins, Alan Eustace, Peter Gabriel, Steve Jurvetson, Jane Luu, Dr. Brian May, Greg McAdoo, Peter Norvig, Helen Sharman, Jill Tarter, Kip Thorne, and more than 38 astronauts and cosmonauts.
To date, the 100X Declaration has been signed by more than 17,000 private citizens. For a full listing of notable signatories, visit www.asteroidday.org/.
You and Asteroid Day
Last year’s global response was outstanding and Asteroid Day 2016 is anticipated to be even greater, also because Asteroid Day and IPS are now joining forces. This article is the first of many more to come: articles to be published back and forth between websites, newsletters, and other vehicles as appropriate. At each others’ respective conferences and events, both organizations will work on appropriate joint formats and—most importantly—will engage in ongoing conversations about best practices in education and public relations.