Hoagland's thinking on asteroid 2005 YU55 was so far out of the box that it lost sight of not only the box but the table the box usually stands on, the house the table is in, and the city the house is in. Is it possible to be more wrong about anything than Hoagland was about YU55? I don't see how. This was an almighty, world class clanger that will resound for quite a while.
Back in June, at the problem-plagued Camelot teleconference (as this blog commented,) Hoagland introduced us to Elenin and YU55. He got the dates of perihelion and closest approach to Earth almost correct but, inexplicably, told us that the asteroid would do its close pass "while we're all distracted by Elenin." A simple glance at the JPL animation of Elenin showed that, by the time YU55 came by, Elenin would be outbound approaching the orbit of Mars, and not much of a distraction. He also noted that the FEMA national all-media alert exercise would take place on November 9th. Very true, but its connection to asteroids is non-existent.
During July, August and September he droned on for hours and hours about Elenin (see this blog here here here here and here. My goodness, I drone on almost as much as he does.) Not until October 21st did he turn his attention to YU55. Here's an excerpt from Coast to Coast AM that night:
It's an object called YU55.It's supposedly an asteroid—we've got Arecibo radar images which show that it's a weird asteroid. It's only about 400 feet across. That sounds small, but it's really huge for something like this. It's coming within 200,000 miles—85% of the distance to the Moon—on the night of November 8th and 9th. And it will safely pass by, we're told. However, there's something really weird. For one thing, it's spherical. It should not be spherical, George. These things should be splinters that are bashed and battered by four and a half billion years of meteorite strikes. This thing is almost as spherical as a beach ball. And—sitting down?—it's rotating once every 19.5 hours.Some of that information was correct. However, it is not spherical. Its rotation period is 18 hours. He lied.
It's a spaceship -- of course!
He was obviously developing a theory that YU55 was another intelligently-guided spaceship—the latest member of his fanciful set of astronomical objects. Phobos, Tempel-1, Hartley-2, Vesta, Elenin.
On November 5th he was on Internet radio with Francis Walsh, developing this theory, and he posted this to Facebollock the following day:
As promised on last night's radio interview with Francis Walsh, here (below) is the best Arecibo radar image I have been able to locate of YU55's LAST "fly-by" of Earth, in April, 2010 ... at ~1.5 MILLION miles .... The astonishing degree of "sphericity" (for a ~1300-foot-natural object) exhibited, the remarkable surface detail visible even in this low-resolution radar image, and low optical AND radar relfectivity of YU55 ... in addition to all the "numerical anomalies" associated with its currently PUBLISHED orbit -- all indicate that YU55 is NOT a "normal asteroid."(This time he at least got the size of the damned thing right.) I have no idea what he meant by "numerical anomalies"and I doubt that he did either. But it apparently gave him an idea. "Let's see, how can I get more attention to myself and put the bejeesus up my faithful followers? Earth impact? No, maybe that's a bit much. Lunar impact? Yes, that'll do. We need to invent a course change." Back to FB:
YU55 CAN'T jump "sideways" by ~50,000 miles. :) This YU55 "course change" we're discussing ... happened back on September 11th ... when YU55 and Elenin were BOTH closest to the sun, on the SAME (crucial) day-- ~16 milliion miles apart, in direct alignment with the sun! The odds of that alone are over 48 MILLION to one ... AGAINST that being a simple "coincidence!! So, if the new trajectory (in our calculkations) is going to take YU55 as "close" as ~50,000 miles, it's STILL a TOTALLY safe trajectory ... in terms of an Earth impact. ... if this is going to happen (an impact ...), it will be with the MOON!-- Creating the MOST amazing fireworks display the human race has EVER SEEN ... in modern history. :) So -- ENJOY!.....and he followed up by advising the faithful to stock up on food, water and cash. No word on his own bulk purchase of kool-aid. He added this:
And, in another strange "coincidence," the President of the united States -- and half the leaders of the Western Hemisphere --just "happen" to be beginning an "Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference" in Oahu, Hawaii ,on this SAME date-- November 9th!!Totally untrue. The Economic Leaders Meeting won't happen until the weekend. Piling lie upon lie, he told the faithful that President Obama would be using the FEMA all-media alert exercise to address the nation.
I think we may safely surmise that during the first week of November Hoagland was beating the phone lines to every Coast to Coast AM producer he could think of, begging to be put on the air to get a wider audience for this balderdash. Showing highly uncharacteristic wisdom, they demurred, booking instead the planetary astronomer and asteroid specialist Daniel Durda for the night before closest approach. However, they allowed Hoagland into the news segment to talk briefly about lunar tourism.
Eyes must have been rolling in their sockets in the C2C studio as Hoagland said "Yes, but there's a breaking story I'd like to switch to..." and proceeded to tell the listening millions the biggest lie so far. He said that "two separate sources, one in Washington and the other in the intelligence community," had slipped him the news that an Atlas-Centaur was on the launch pad at Vandenburgh AFB, ready for a YU55 intercept mission. Misquoting Hillaire Belloc:
Hoagland told such dreadful liesIt was the lie of a desperate man—desperate for attention and ready to spin any cock-and-bull story to get it. Totally, totally, untrue. Of course.
They made one gasp and stretch one's eyes
If he thought he might be invited on C2C to give a blow-by-blow commentary as the asteroid passed, last night, he was disappointed again. He had to settle for Project Camelot livestream, chronically out of focus and clearly frustrated by Kerry Cassidy's sophomoric interview technique. "Anonymous" has provided a short summary of the content, as a comment to the previous post on this blog. Thanks a lot, anon. I couldn't stand it for more than five minutes so I didn't hear the full horrible story. I see signs that some of the faithful are not quite as faithful as they were on Monday.
The Final OutcomeThe asteroid didn't hit the Moon.
There was no intercept mission.
The FEMA alert exercise lasted all of 3 sec.
The President was not in Hawaii and did not address the nation.
The lie is different every time he opens his mouth.