Looking Ahead at Navroz and Beyond With Renewed Hope and Optimism: (1) NASA Says 2021’s Largest Asteroid Will Pass Close to Our Planet on March 21, But Presents No Threat of Collision Now or For Centuries to Come!

Compiled and Adapted by MALIK MERCHANT
from the NASA Website

The largest asteroid to pass by Earth this year will approach within about 2 million kilometers (1.25 million miles) of our planet on March 21, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said on Thursday March 11, 2021.

Discovered 20 years ago and named 2001 FO32, the asteroid is at the smaller end of the scale, but it will still be the largest asteroid to pass this close to our planet in 2021. The last notably large asteroid close approach was that of 1998 OR2 on April 29, 2020. While 2001 FO32 is somewhat smaller than 1998 OR2, it will be three times nearer to Earth.

Though 2001 FO32 has been classified as “potentially hazardous asteroid” in terms of the distance from earth in astronomical terms, NASA has said that there is no threat of a collision with our planet now or for centuries to come. “We know the orbital path of 2001 FO32 around the Sun very accurately, since it was discovered 20 years ago and has been tracked ever since,” said Paul Chodas, director of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), which is managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California.

Over 95% of near-Earth asteroids the size of 2001 FO32 or larger have been discovered, tracked, and cataloged. None of the large asteroids in the catalog has any chance of impacting Earth over the next century, and it is extremely unlikely that any of the remaining undiscovered asteroids of this size could impact Earth, either. Still, efforts continue to discover all asteroids that could pose an impact hazard. The more information that can be gathered about these objects, the better mission designers can prepare to deflect them if any were to threaten Earth in the future.

The NASA Infrared Telescope Facility telescope during a lunar eclipse
The NASA Infrared Telescope Facility telescope during a lunar eclipse. The Facility is one of the telescopes that makes up the Maunakea Observatories on the Big Island of Hawai’i. The Facility provides vital and unequaled capabilities in planetary research while supporting NASA’s flight missions and Strategic Goal for Planetary Science. Maunakea is a place of immense reverance and cultural importance within the indigenous Hawaiian community. Photo credit: UNIVERSITY OF HAWAI’I.
NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii
This photo shows the view from inside the dome of NASA’s Infrared Telescope Facility during a night of observing. The 3.2-meter (10.5-foot) telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea will be used to measure the infrared spectrum of asteroid 2001 FO32. Photo Credit: UH/IfA

Follow up observations have suggested that 2001 FO32 is estimated to be about 1 km in diameter and between 440 to 680 meters wide. During its approach next weekend, 2001 FO32 will pass by at about 124,000 kph (77,000 mph) – faster than the speed at which most asteroids encounter Earth. The reason for the asteroid’s unusually speedy close approach is its highly inclined and elongated (or eccentric) orbit around the Sun (see photo at top of post).

The asteroids close encounter with our planet will present a valuable scientific opportunity for astronomers. Observations dating back 20 years revealed that about 15% of near-Earth asteroids comparable in size to 2001 FO32 have a small moon, said Lance Benner, principal scientist at JPL. Currently little is known about this object, so the very close encounter provides an outstanding opportunity to learn a great deal about this asteroid. The March 21 encounter will provide an opportunity for astronomers to get a more precise understanding of the asteroid’s size and albedo (i.e. how bright, or reflective, its surface is), and a rough idea of its composition.

After its brief visit, 2001 FO32 will continue its lonely voyage, not coming this close to Earth again until 2052, when it will pass by at about seven lunar distances, 2.8 million kilometers or 1.75 million miles.

Date posted: March 13, 2021.

Featured image at top of post: A diagram depicting the elongated and inclined orbit of 2001 FO32 as it travels around the Sun (white ellipse). Because of this orbit, when the asteroid makes its close approach to Earth on March 21, 2021, it will be traveling at an unusually fast speed of 124,000 kph (77,000 mph). Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech.

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Discovery of Abbasid and Fatimid gold coins in jug in Old Jerusalem reflect shifting political power of the 2 dynasties

“The profile of the coins found in the juglet are a near perfect reflection of the historical events. This is a time of great political change as control of Israel shifts from the Sunni Abbasid caliphate, which sits in Baghdad, Iraq, to ​​its Shiite rivals, the Fatimid dynasty of North Africa.” — Robert Cole

[The following compiled piece includes material released by the Israel Antiques Authority. Also, the website livescience has prepared a short video highlighting the discovery of the Abbasid and Fatimid coins. Please watch the video HERE — Ed.]

In 2015, in a post entitled Sea of Gold, Simerg provided a link to a special on-line exhibit about the discovery by a group of divers of a hoard of Fatimid gold dinars lying on the seabed in the ancient harbor in Caesarea National Park. The divers alerted marine archaeologists of the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who conducted a salvage excavation at the site and recovered more than 2,580 Fatimid coins of pure (24 karat) gold weighing a total of 7.5 kg.

The IAA then noted as follows: “The coins are of the finest 24-karat gold (96-99% pure gold). They lay on the sea-bed for a 1000 years but required almost no cleaning, as pure gold cannot corrode. Particularly important for the Fatimid rulers, who were Shi’ites, is the mention of Ali, the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law considered by the Shi’a as the first Imam after Muhammad, as ‘God’s intimate’. Also, the name of the mint and the date of issue appear on these coins, making them extremely important historical documents.”

Just over a month ago, on November 9 2020, IAA archaeologists reported another very significant find at a site where an elevator is being built at the Old City of Jerusalem in the Jewish quarter to make the Western Wall more accessible.

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Excavation of a jug containing 4 coins from the Abbasid and Fatimid periods
The juglet and the four gold coins found recently in Old Jerusalem. Photo: Dafna Gazit / Israel Antiquities Authority.

David Gellman, the director of the excavation observed, “We seem to have found an ancient savings bank!” He was actually referring to a small pottery urn containing four pure gold coins more than a thousand years old that was found by the inspector of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Yevgenia Kapil, during preliminary work that was carried out at the site during the holidays. Gellman says that when he emptied the jug a few weeks later, the four glittering gold coins along with sand were washed into his hands. This was the first time that Gellman, as an archaeologist, had discovered gold and he was immensely excited by the discovery.

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spot where the gold-filled jug was found opposite the Western Wall Plaza. Photo: Yoli Schwartz/Israel Antiquities Authority.
Excavation director David Gellman with the Israel Antiquities Authority points to the spot where the gold-filled jug was found opposite the Western Wall Plaza in Old Jerusalem. Photo: Yoli Schwartz / Israel Antiquities Authority.

Dr. Robert Cole, an expert on coins at the IAA, noted as follows about the four coins: “The coins were preserved in excellent condition and could be read immediately even without being cleaned. The profile of the coins found in the juglet are a near perfect reflection of the historical events. The coins date to a relatively brief period, from the late 940s to the 970s CE.  This is a time of great political change as control of Israel shifts from the Sunni Abbasid caliphate, which sits in Baghdad, Iraq, to ​​its Shiite rivals, the Fatimid dynasty of North Africa, which in those days conquered Egypt, Syria and Israel. These historical events are reflected almost perfectly in the distribution of the coins discovered in the jug: two gold dinars were minted in Ramla, under the rule of the Caliph Matia (946 – 974 CE) and the governor on his behalf, Abu al-Qassem ibn al-Ihshid Onuhar (946 – 961 CE). The other two gold coins were minted in Cairo, by the Fatimid rulers al-Mu’iz (953 – 975 CE), and his successor — al-Aziz (975 – 996 CE).”

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Examination of coins unearthed in Jerusalem
IAA coin expert Robert Kool examines one of the gold coins found in a small pottery urn. The coins were preserved in excellent condition and could be read immediately even without being cleaned. Photo: Shai Halevi / Israel Antiquities Authority.

He also explained that “the four gold dinars was a considerable sum of money for most of the population, who lived under difficult conditions at the time. It was equal to the monthly salary of a minor official, or four months’ salary for a common laborer.” This is the first time in fifty years that gold coins from the Fatimid period have been discovered in Jerusalem’s Old City. The previous find of 5 coins and jewellery hoards from the Fatimid period took place after the Six Day War south of the Temple Mount, not far from the recent new discovery.

Date posted: December 22, 2020.

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wishes His Highness the Aga Khan Salgirah Mubarak and thanks him for his outstanding leadership and bringing people together

December 13, 2020
Ottawa, Ontario

The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement marking the birthday of His Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan:

“Today, we join Shia Imami Ismaili Muslims in Canada and around the world to celebrate the 84th birthday of their spiritual leader, His Highness the Aga Khan.

“A global humanitarian, the Aga Khan has made it his mission to build a better, more peaceful world. In a year where we have seen inequalities compounded by the effects of a global pandemic, His Highness has continued to work to help reduce poverty, advance gender equality, and improve health care and education. Whether through his Global Centre for Pluralism in Canada or the Aga Khan Development Network, his tireless efforts have helped make Canada, and the world, more inclusive. 

“The Aga Khan shares many of the values Canadians hold dear, including kindness, compassion, and respect for diversity. In a world often fraught with division, His Highness has continually worked to bring people together. His unwavering dedication to helping others is an inspiration to us all. For these reasons, he was named an honorary Canadian citizen and invested as an honorary Companion of the Order of Canada.

“Today, Sophie and I thank the Aga Khan for his outstanding leadership. We wish him continued health and happiness on this special day and for years to come.

“Salgirah Khushiali Mubarak!”

Date posted: December 14, 2020.

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Featured photo at top of this post: His Highness the Aga Khan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau are seen engaged in a warm conversation during their meeting at Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, May 17, 2016. Photo: © Jean-Marc Carisse.

Before departing this website please take a moment to review Simerg’s Table of Contents for links to hundreds of thought provoking pieces on a vast array of subjects including faith and culture, history and philosophy, and arts and letters to name a few.