It was ten years ago today when the motion picture "Deep Impact" had its premiere, followed by the similar "Armageddon" on July 1st. Both movies (eclipsing any others with an impact theme such as "Meteor" with its meagre $8.4m gross) have since grossed a total of 903,2 million dollars worldwide, according to the IMDB All Time list: Armageddon is on rank 44 with $554.6m, Deep Impact on rank 132 with $348.6m. (The BOM figures are very similiar.)
900 million dollars: makes one wonder how far the hunt for Near Earth Objects might have progressed today, had that doe (or a "stupid impact movie tax" :-) been spent on more search programs - NASA e.g., a major source of funding, currently invests just 4.1 million bucks annually! Now Canada seems to be willing to go ahead with the - similarly cheap - NEOSSat satellite mission for NEO hunting inside Earth's orbit which has stirred up some controversy (see also here, here and here). At NASA meanwhile, some dream about a manned NEO mission with the Orion capsule.
In other news the pairing of the young lunar crescent on May 6 with planet Mercury at dusk was quite a sight: collections from Germany - more and more pictures - and from around the world. • Images of asteroid Iris passing by the Sombrero galaxy. • It was 25 years ago that comet IRAS-Araki-Alcock was discovered and came very close to Earth. • Don Machholz has now been hunting comets for 400 months, since 1975. • How to date old sky pics with the help of stellar proper motions. • And thoughts on the huge solar flare of 1859, still the record-holder by far.