The Register has published my article on a visit to the Spaceguard Centre, near Knighton in Powys. This privately-run observatory is Britain’s only facility dedicated to monitoring Near Earth Objects (NEOs), large Earth-bound asteroids and comets that could do anything from blow out thousands of windows (as happened in Chelyabinsk in 2013) to taking us the way of the dinosaurs.
The good news, according to Spaceguard founder Jay Tate, is that unlike the dinosaurs we have a space programme, and are perfectly capable of spotting and moving any rogue NEOs before they hit. Best not to nuke them like Bruce Willis – turns out you can simply nudge them on to a different course.
We do need to get better at the spotting part than at present, which is where Tate and the Centre come in, through educating visitors and using the entrance fees, donations and gift shop receipts to fund more spotting.
I reckon the Spaceguard Centre is well-worth a visit. Here’s my conclusion:
Visitors learn about the problem of NEOs from someone who devotes his life to the subject and can explain it in an informative and drily humorous fashion – in a way that isn’t likely to scare children, although it may confirm adults’ fears about the UK government. And by paying to visit, you also become a small part of the solution.
Also recently published, an update on Genomics England for ComputerWeekly.com.