I've posted multiple times about the dangers of asteroid collision:
So I was delighted to see that scientists predicted an asteroid collision accurately enough that it could be filmed happening. From Star Bulletin:
The successful prediction of a harmless asteroid impact over northern Africa yesterday bodes well for a Maui-based system in development to warn against potentially hazardous space rocks, a University of Hawaii astronomer contends.
While boulders of various sizes routinely hit the Earth's atmosphere, this was the first time that astronomers saw one coming and accurately predicted the time and place of impact, UH astronomer David Tholen said yesterday.
The impact occurred at 4:46 p.m. Hawaii time Monday over northern Sudan. A colleague compared the asteroid, called 2008 TC3, to the size of a Volkswagen, he said...
"These things happen every month or two and most of the time just go unnoticed, except people on the ground who see the fireball," Tholen said. "This time, astronomers saw it first and could predict the fireball. It was unique."
Read the whole thing for more info. Meantime, this provides for some fun eye candy...first, the trajectory the asteroid took:
Video of the asteroid as it approached the planet:
Another, possibly more close up view (clearer, at least!) of the asteroid approaching:
And finally, the money shot, the collision itself (don't blink!):
At least that is presented as the collision...some comments on the YouTube page seem to think it's another situation and I haven't found verification either way -- if you know more, please let me know.
In any case, hopefully this is a sign that we're getting more likely to detect and be able to handle larger asteroid impacts. I love living in a time and a culture when we can do this stuff.