Asteroids are chunks of rock and dust that revolve around the sun moving mainly between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, known as the asteroid belt. When viewed through a medium-size telescope, they appear more like stars than planets. It was Sir William Herschel who gave the name “asteroid” meaning “star-like”.
An Italian astronomer, Giuseppe Piazza (1746-1826), discovered the first asteroid on January 1, 1801, while charting a region of the night sky in the constellation Taurus. The asteroid was named Ceres and has a diameter of 590 miles. If Ceres happen to collide with the Earth it would be a global killer. But there are actually smaller asteroids that scientists are more concerned about, because these are the ones that leave their secluded orbit and veer off into the inner solar system and have flybys near the earth. There have been a lot of this type of asteroid in the news lately. These smaller asteroids are more like “flying mountains”.
In the Bible, in the Book of the Revelation, there is a passage about a “great mountain burning with fire” that will crash into the sea and a third part of the earth is destroyed. “And the second angel sounded, and as it were a great mountain burning with fire was cast into the sea: and the third part of the sea became blood; and the third part of the creatures which were in the sea, and had life died; and a third part of the ships were destroyed” (Revelation 8:8-9).
Imagine a large asteroid was on a collision course for Earth. how much notice would we get? Duncan Steele is an astronomer who has been trying to alert the world’s governments to the danger: “If a half-mile asteroid hits us, we can expect a six second warning. When it hits the sky will light up like a thousand suns. By the time you’ve turned to look at it, it will have struck the ground, releasing energy equivalent to 10,000 times the Hiroshima bomb. Then it is goodbye.”
Recently we had flybys of asteroids but even more remarkable is the recent meteors that hit over Russia. Speaking of Russia, there is the most spectacular event that occurred near the Tunguska River in Siberia on June 30, 1908. A bright fireball, easily visible in the day time, flashed across the sky accompanied by tremendous explosions and fell to earth with a great crash. A cloud of dust and smoke rose many miles into the sky and the atmospheric blast wave knocked down men and animals more than one hundred miles away. Many windows were broken, walls and buildings collapsed, and the seismic disturbance was detected throughout Europe. For many days the twilight skies were brighter than normal because sunlight was scattered from the smoke and dust particles in the upper atmosphere. Scientists believe it was a small asteroid that struck the earth.