Just a few pixels on a screen, moving slowly

asteroidflyby.jpg

When I tuned into NASA's livestream of the asteroid 2012 DA14's closest approach to earth, I'm not sure what I expected. What I saw was this: a few pixels moving up a screen. It looked like a screenshot from Pong. And that was it. The approach came and went (happily!).

Perhaps I have been conditioned by the Hubble Space Telescope and the movie Armageddon to expect a lot from space, visually speaking. The thing is, though: This is how a lot astronomy looks. Grainy images, tiny changes tracked through hard work and almost miraculous engineering. The stunning visual is the exception not the rule.


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