In these movies, those in high places get to know about the approaching asteroid up to a year ahead so they can launch countermeasures - like sending Bruce Willis to stop it. As only Hollywood can afford the necessary special effects budget to create a half decent asteroid and everything that goes with it, the 'people in the know' tend to be The President of the United States and the US military - which is fair enough as these asteroids always seem to target the US in any case. Mind you, in the theatre where I watched "Armageddon", there was a bit of a cheer went up when Paris got flattened first.
In classic "US Saves The World" style theatrics, the rest of us sit back and wait for a load of A-List actors to fly the shuttle towards the nasty big rock and attempt to blow it back where it came from.
But yesterday a part of that screenplay became a reality when an asteroid the size of a 10 storey building passed by the Earth at a distance of only 45,000 miles. In cosmic terms, a very near miss. I know that doesn't seem like much of an asteroid but it's about the size of the beauty that hit Siberia in 1908 with the force of 1,000 atomic bombs. It left a mark !
Now the key fact here is that it happened yesterday, people. Happened already. It's been and gone and I never got to even give it a wave. Whooooosh and it was gone. Didn't even stop for a postcard.
So where was the warning ? Why have we all these expensive bits of hardware up there bumping into each other and yet this asteroid was only spotted on Saturday ? It's probably like they tell us in the disaster movies - that 99% of these satellites and their cameras are pointing DOWN at the Earth - for obvious reasons. I think they should ask the people on the Space Station to make a point of opening the curtains every morning and having a quick look 'out there' for anything coming our way. Might as well get some return on the investment.
So 2009 DD45 (for that is the catchy name it was given - it was no ELE after all) came and went yesterday and few of us even knew about it.
It opens up the whole debate about such things of course. Would we be better off knowing about a planet shattering asteroid heading our way ? What would we do if we knew ?
I'd probably cash in my Nectar Points for a start. I've never used one and I've almost 2.5million of them now.........I was planning on getting a practical set of saucepans but if an asteroid was coming, sod that. I'd get a frivilous Space Hopper and have a bit of fun on my last days.
So, knowing your days were numbered, what would YOU do ? And you don't need to respond, Bruce.
I KNOW what you'd be doing !