THAT YouTube “ISON Debris Hitting us NOW!” Video…

At first there were just a few, but there are now too many BS videos about Comet ISON to count. More appear every day, usually very badly edited and accompanied by godawfully pompous music, created by people who either genuinely know nothing about astronomy and are piecing together various news items to come up with what, to them, seems like a logical explanation – i.e. a particular earthquake, fireball or solar flare was caused by Comet ISON, or *do* know a little about astronomy (or think they do) but get their facts wrong and end up with a real dog’s dinner of a story.

Others are produced, it has to be said, by manipulative and mischevious people who know full well that they are talking absolute bullshit, but, for some perverse reason, want to scare people, and get a sick kick out of doing so. They scour the internet for images of Comet ISON and ‘process’ them in Photoshop or some other program to ‘bring out hidden detail’ such as UFOs, chunks of debris and asteroids – all of which are, of course, a direct threat to us.  Or they simply take the images and use them as they ar,e but label image processing artefacts already present on the images as UFOs, debris and asteroids, ignoring or pouring scorn on the official explanations of those things. It’s easy to imagine them sitting there, desperate to feed their own egos, gleefully watching their Views count go up and up as the naive and the easily led forward their ridiculous vids to their friends, spreading their rubbish through the internet like food poisoning at a wedding reception.

One of the most-viewed and most-forwarded videos on YouTube is one claiming to prove that debris from Comet ISON is hitting us NOW! I’m not going to put a link to it here, and give them further exposure, but this is the opening frame…

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…which, of course, shows the smoke trail from a piece of Comet ISON debris left in the sky after it streaked across the heavens.

Rubbish.

I hate this video with a passion, I’ll admit it, not just because it is genuinely frightening people, but because it is just very, very lazy, and anyone who spends a few minutes, just a few, researching the science behind the claims would easily and quickly realise it’s utter nonsense.

To be fair, I think a lot of people are taking this video seriously because of a common misapprehension about the nature of asteroids and where they come from, the “asteroid belt”. Many people think that the asteroid belt is absolutely jam-packed with rocks, crowded in together, all jostling for position, colliding with and bouncing off each other. They think that flying into the asteroid belt would look like this…

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And WHY do they think that? Two reasons. Firstly, because for years astronomy text books and websites have shown the asteroid belt like this…

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…which does rather suggest that it’s a very scary place indeed, with hardly enough room to slip a piece of paper between the huge rocks! The other reason? The way asteroid belts are shown in science fiction films. They’re always shown as chaotic places where huge chunks of rock are spinning and tumbling around, past and into each other. Like this famous scene…

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And actually there’s a third reason why people think of the asteroid belt as looking and being like that: a certain (brilliant!)  video game from the 1970s…

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The truth is rather less dramatic, or dangerous.

You see, the asteroid belt is so huge, such a vast area of space, that it is mostly empty space. The distance between any two asteroids is typically between 2 and 5 MILLION kilometres. That means that you could stand on an asteroid and not be able to see even your nearest neighbour, let alone ANY of your neighbours, as anything other than a tiny, faint star, if that.

And if anyone reading this is thinking “Hmm, maybe, you might be right, I might be wrong, but I might be right…” and wants proof of that, here you go…

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That’s an image of the asteroid Vesta, taken by the NASA spaceprobe “Dawn” as it flew towards it. If the asteroid belt was as packed with asteroids as the conspiracy theorists and sci fi film makers think, then there would be other asteroids visible in the picture too – Vesta’s neighbours. Where are they? Nowhere to be seen. That’s because even the closest is several million miles away. Dawn actually went into orbit around Vesta, and sent back increasingly gorgeous pictures, like these…

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Again, note the lack of neighbouring asteroids in the background. That’s because, like the sheep seen through Father Dougal’s binoculars while they’re stuck in that caravan, they’re A LONG WAY AWAY…

So, hopefully now you can see for yourself this is why the claims that Comet ISON disturbed dozens of asteroids as it passed (or as one person on Twitter insists on describing it, ‘crashed’) through the asteroid belt, sending some on a collision course with Earth and dragging others behind it like tin cans tied to a newly wed couple’s car, are so ridiculous:  anything passing “through” the asteroid belt has very tiny odds of even SEEING a single asteroid, never mind deflecting or hitting one, or many. This is actually a pain in the neck for planetary scientists,who wish the asteroid belt was more DENSELY populated, because the incredible distances to and then between them means getting TO an asteroid to study it is amazingly hard, and takes enormous computing power and skill.

This picture, generated by my phone’s brilliant Sky Safari Plus astronomy app, shows why it’s absolute nonsense to suggest that anything coming off Comet ISON is hitting us…

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See? Comet ISON is still halfway to Mars, that means it’s many, many millions of miles away (and is one reason why it’s still so ******* faint!!), and its tail is pointing away from the Sun and away from US, so anything coming off it will be travelling AWAY FROM EARTH, not TOWARDS it. And what the image doesn’t show because it’s just in 2D is that ISON’s orbit is inclined in relation to ours. That means its orbit takes it first beneath Earth’s orbital path, and then, after it has made its screeching hand brake turn around the Sun, far above it.

So everything in that video is wrong. When Comet ISON passed – not crashed – through the asteroid belt it didn’t hit anything, and it didn’t drag anything with it. And anyone who tries to tell you it did, on Twitter or YouTube, or on a blog, is either mistaken, or lying through their back teeth to scare you, or get you to part with your money so they can mislead and lie to and scare OTHER people.

Why am I so against these videos? They’re harmless, right? Well, no, they’re not. They might start off as a bit of a joke, a bit of a laugh, but the people who make them should realise – and I actually think some of them do realise, but make them anyway, which makes them wicked in my opinion – that many people are genuinely worried about Comet ISON and are “researching” it for themselves. When they do a Google search for ISON info, they find lots of scientific information, sure, but there’s a lot more of this conspiracy theory garbage out there, and searching YouTube for videos relating to Comet ISON brings up dozens of crank films reporting on how the comet is going to hit Earth, or shower us with flaming debris, or cause earthquakes, tidal waves or solar flares. My great concern is that some people who are ignorant about science will watch these films and actually believe them and be scared by them. And I can easily imagine some people becoming so scared, so convinced that there must be *something* in the clams about ISON being a threat to us that they do something to hurt themselves or their families, or even kill themselves in their panic?

Ridiculous? No. In 1997 38 people were convinced to commit suicide by the wide-eyed nutter leader of the Heaven’s Gate cult. I have a great and growing fear that such a thing might happen again. If it does, I hope the people who are creating these videos – the fake Pastors, Preachers and Professors, the EarthWatchers and the rest – are publicly shamed for their role in it, and are made to face up to their responsibility. They’ll whine that it wasn’t their fault, of course; they’ll say they were just “making people aware”, and giving an opinion, but that’s a cop out. Every time they post one of their videos these people know exactly what they’re doing, and are absolutely delighted at the prospect of terrifying people with their work. They love it. They get a kick out of it.

Some, of course, have other motives. Look closely at the bottom of their blogs and websites and you’ll find that some encourage their devoted viewers and followers to “support” their work by sending “donations”. Ahhhhh…. That should tell you a lot about what they’re doing it for: not to spread the truth, not to “make people aware”, but to boost their bank balances. They’re in it to make a buck.

Hopefully this blog post has reassured you if the “ISON Debris hitting us now!” YouTube video has scared you. If you’re the person who made it in the first place, shame on you for frightening people. If you’re someone who has passed it on to others, then shame on you too, for spreading the fear. And if you’re still unconvinced that it’s wrong, if you’re still thinking you know better than all the scientists and experts who design, launch and operate multi billion dollar spaceprobes covered with state of the art instruments, and if you refuse to believe the physics involved, and if you refuse to accept common sense and are still telling yourself “Well, they might be wrong, I’ll keep an open mind” then there’s nothing to be done for you, you’re a lost cause. I suggest you just go back to YouTube and watch more rubbish there, because you’re never going to accept the truth. I feel sorry for you, because you’re seeing ugliness where there is only beauty, and looking for lies where there are only facts, and you’re wasting an amazing opportunity to be a Part of and celebrate something special and rare – the appearance of a comet in our sky! But that’s your choice. I’ll waste no more time on you.

Everyone else – cross your fingers that ISON starts to brighten soon, and look at the other pages on my blog to find out where to see it and how to observe and photograph it. :-)


33 Responses to “THAT YouTube “ISON Debris Hitting us NOW!” Video…”

  1. If i ever meet someone who believes in these crazy video’s i’ll be sure to send them to this thread. Thanks for keeping us updated with comet ISON, i hope it becomes the comet of the century for all to see and remember *crosses fingers*.

  2. great 2 see people with sense still exist

  3. I saw comet Hale-Bopp in 1997 as we were heading to the Grand Canyon. We stopped and sat of the roof of the car for over an hour in complete silence, simply God-smacked…

  4. By the way, you are doing a superb job in disseminating factual info about the comet. Most of what’s on youtube is for people living in the dark ages :-)

  5. wow thanx I wont lie I was one of the many who believed this comet to be something to cause catastrophic events to happen once it “hit earth” good to know we can relax sit bck and enjoy its beauty….;)

    • It’s FANTASTIC to hear that, thanks for letting me know! That is why I take such a hard line here, and end up being accused of being rude – to stop people worrying when nutters, liars and morons post scaremongering, wicked bullshit on YouTube and Twitter that really scares people. They know they’re doing it, they get a kick out of doing it, and are basically scumbags who deserve to be outed as such. When ISON goes past and nothing happens, they’ll conveniently forget all about it, forget their predictions, and crawl back under their stones…until another comet is found, then they’ll make the same predictions and post the same scaremongering crap about that. They’re pathetic. And I’m delighted that my blog has helped you stop worrying. :-)

  6. Is it possible that some debris felt in our atmosphere? Or could this have been the satelite? About two hours ago we saw fireballs in the sky. We saw 8 pieces all acting fast after each other moving in different orbits. Planes would never come so close to each other and never fly in such a curved line, moving downwards slightly. They where different in speed than airplanes. Well i have experience in seeïng planes ad i am sure it wasn’t that. But what was it? This was center of netherlands from south-west up to north-east at 17.25 hr. local time. (London GMT)

    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/qCR0njQ.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/LQcs4tw.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/G4gsIlL.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/U352Tm1.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/bRvO7HZ.jpg[/IMG]

    [IMG]http://i.imgur.com/xqGXjIA.jpg[/IMG]

  7. I just want to express gratitude for all your incredible effort in putting together and keeping up with this site. I have to tell you that unfortunately, I was one who accidentally found this video you speak of and then and another and another. I guess I don’t YouTube too much and am a bit naive and thought we were all going to go up in a big ball of fire and smoke. Of course I didn’t spread the fear but was really having doomsday anxiety for a week and crying inside that my baby would die and I wouldn’t be able to see him grow up. Anyway, as time went on and I spoke to my better half, I was more convinced that there are just so many deceivers out in the virtual world spreading a bunch of crap for all sorts of reasons. Well thank God for a grounded and intelligent fellow like you. Even though, I’ve been better, deep down inside I’ve still been a bit nervous about the comet because of lack of accurate information, but after reading through you site, I can honestly put my mind at ease and now feel very very silly. Better silly then dead I say. Thank you again. This is a great site. And I am with you about a virus just taking over the entire global network and wiping out every conspiracy video and blog site ever created. Dang those guys piss me off!

  8. Thank god somebody with brain hope i have a chance to see it from durban rsa (weather)

  9. Great website. I love comets and always have as far as I can remember. My daughter is almost nine and I want to share this experience with her. It seems like the last decade or so all the Great Comets have been mainly visible in the Southern Hemisphere. I hope ISON puts on a great show!

  10. So glad I’ve found your blog! I’ve spent the last couple of evenings looking through and laughing at the wacko comments. I so hope to see Ison but I’m never looking in the right place at the right time! Keep up the awesome work fella!!

  11. fuck you

  12. What a pefect reply to such object hostility!

  13. Thank you for the information about ison! Like some of the others, I was scared half to death reading and watching videos and amateur news blogs about ison. I couldnt sleep for several dies, one night I actually cried thinking the world end. I keep hearing things about missiles being sent after perhelion or the video was cropt out, missiles being sent to stop ison or ison being nibiru etc. At least some of these cleared that out, but one that still clings on to me is a threat of an emp from a comet like ison. Could something like that be true? Thank you so much.

    • Thanks for your comment, which proves exactly why I take such a hard line on all the wicked, stupid people who spread disinformation about this kind of thing. They should be ashamed. Let me reassure you, and this is a scientific fact, comets cannot cause EMPs. A chunk of ice a couple of miles across cannot cause such a thing, it just can’t, any any person, website, YouTube video or blogger who tells you otherwise is LYING. Ok? :-)

      • Ok, just worried since my mother will be leaving the country around the 4th and arriving with my bro on the 16th which I hear that ison may appear in our skies, just gets me worried for their safety.

  14. you’re too amazing.

  15. thanks buddy for helping people, i just tried to find good information and i found it. thanx :)

  16. I qgree we should all of these prophets of doom up and make them stop scaring everyone! How can we do that? Thank you for your enlightening exposition of what I am sure should be a dead issue by now.

  17. Having been hit by a Micro Meteorite the size of a Grain of Sand (Documented), I have a much different view of this Situation, the Viewpoint of those that know the truth, and those that think they know it, is a fine line, those that think they know it, want me to shut up, and delete my threads in their post, so it makes them look better, or have more creditability, its called Censorship, but I doubt your viewers will find this thread, because you are afraid of the real truth, which is that in 333 years, a comet will hit Earth just like Sir Isaac Newton Calculated, just as he did that we would cross this Comets Path on 14 January 2014, just because I am an Aspie, and have a Different viewpoint, I get Censored, the Light Wizzard is not going to be silenced by one person who Censors their Blog just because they differ in opinion.

    • Ok, first of all, I’m not so much censoring you personally as trying to keep this blog of mine a haven for people who just want to read about science and not have to wade through all the pseudoscientific rubbish other sites are spattered with. This blog is not the place for that, so when someone posts a comment with that stuff in yeah, I’m going to delete it. And as it’s a personal blog, I can do that. If anyone doesn’t like that, they don’t have to be here. And by the way… really? I’m supposed to take someone who calls themselves “Light Wizzard” seriously? People who post here under pseudonyms really shouldn’t be surprised if they’re not taken seriously. But at least you didn’t compare yourself to a Mountain Wolf I suppose. :-) You say you were hit by a Micro Meteorite the size of a grain of sand? Me too. So has everyone else reading this blog, probably. Every day comet dust patters down on us from above, it’s nothing exceptional, and nothing new, we just don’t see or feel it. You’re walking on comet dust every time you go outside. That last breath you took? You inhaled comet dust. It’s part of our environment. Every year many, many thousands of tons of comet dust settle on the Earth and it doesn’t cause an Ice Age, so anything that reaches us from ISON – a tiny amount – won’t either.

      As for being “Afraid of the Real Truth”, no, not at all. The truth comes in the form of science, in observations, calculations, and hard work, not crackpot theories and predictions, which I will not entertain here.

      • Sorry about the rant, I though you were the person who emailed me a nasty gram, after looking at this reply, I know it wasn’t you, but another site. I do agree with the point you made, and I only want to talk about real science, the Wizard is about real Science. As far as being hit by a Meteorite, I was hit so hard I thought I would bleed out before the ambulance showed up, still have a hard time holding up my head, this time were were lucky, in 333 years we will not be. Great blog, again sorry about the mistake.

  18. Hi I wanTed to ask a question why is everyone saying a meotorite or asteroid is going to hit America and a ball of energy is heading this way iv gotta say scaremongers have us on the edge thankd

    • Andy, please don’t worry. The people saying this are either simply ignorant of science, and particularly astronomy, and naively believing what they see and read, or they are deliberately spreading lies and trying to scare people through idiotic YouTube videos and pathetic Doomsday Twitter posts. There never was any danger from Comet ISON, it was never going to come any closer to us than 40 million miles. It actually fell to pieces on Nov 27th as it rounded the Sun and now only dust is left and that can’t harm us. So, no, no danger, no asteroid, no fireballs, you can stop worrying. And remember, anyone telling you other is lying.

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