Target Earth: A Lecture by Anthony Southwell

Saturday 07 November 2015

Target Earth: A Lecture by Anthony Southwell

Saturday 7 November 2015, 7:30pm, QUAD Gallery. FREE 

Go out on a clear night, and what do you see? The night sky of course, with all its starry splendour, it all looks so quiet, so serene, safe. Nothing could be further from the truth! When you look out into the night sky you are looking at the Cosmos from one of the targets in a Cosmic ‘Shooting Gallery,’ namely the Earth (the target) and our own Solar System is the Shooting Gallery.


Our Solar System is teeming with the ‘builder’s rubble,’ left over from its formation some 5 billion years ago. So what is this rubble? This ‘Cosmic Junk’ is made up of Asteroids and Comets, some of these objects stay within stable, and, well-behaved, orbits, but some are hurtling through the Solar System at tremendous speeds and it is only a matter of time, and bad luck, that, one day, a planet gets in the way.

Impacts can have serious effects for life on a planet, it was the impact of an asteroid, 65 million years ago, that helped to wipe out the dinosaurs and changed the course of evolution that eventually led to us. But an impactor does not have to be huge to be a problem, even a modestly sized object could take out a city such as London, New York, Paris, Tokyo.


Join Anthony Southwell as he explores the history of Asteroid and Comet impacts, not just on the Earth, but throughout the Solar System. Anthony will answer such questions as, “how many times has the Earth been hit?, should we be concerned?, are we looking for these objects and what can we do about them? And what are the effects of an impact?