Mountain Views News, Sierra Madre Edition [Pasadena] Saturday, September 23, 2017

MVNews this week:  Page A:11



Mountain Views-News Saturday, September 23, 2017 


NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope helped an 
international team of astronomers find that an 
unusual object in the asteroid belt is, in fact, two 
asteroids orbiting each other that have comet-like 
features. These include a bright halo of material, 
called a coma, and a long tail of dust.

 Hubble was used to image the asteroid, designated 
300163 (2006 VW139), in September 2016 just 
before the asteroid made its closest approach to 
the Sun. Hubble’s crisp images revealed that it was 
actually not one, but two asteroids of almost the 
same mass and size, orbiting each other at a distance 
of 60 miles.

 Asteroid 300163 (2006 VW139) was discovered 
by Spacewatch in November 2006 and then the 
possible cometary activity was seen in November 
2011 by Pan-STARRS. Both Spacewatch and Pan-
STARRS are asteroid survey projects of NASA’s 
Near Earth Object Observations Program. After the 
Pan-STARRS observations it was also given a comet 
designation of 288P. This makes the object the first 
known binary asteroid that is also classified as a 
main-belt comet.

 The more recent Hubble observations revealed 
ongoing activity in the binary system. “We detected 
strong indications for the sublimation of water ice 
due to the increased solar heating — similar to how 
the tail of a comet is created,” explained team leader 
Jessica Agarwal of the Max Planck Institute for Solar 
System Research, Germany.

 The combined features of the binary asteroid—
wide separation, near-equal component size, high 
eccentricity orbit, and comet-like activity—also 
make it unique among the few known binary 
asteroids that have a wide separation. Understanding 
its origin and evolution may provide new insights 
into the early days of the solar system. Main-belt 
comets may help to answer how water came to a 
bone-dry Earth billions of years ago.

 The team estimates that 2006 VW139/288P has 
existed as a binary system only for about 5,000 years. 
The most probable formation scenario is a breakup 
due to fast rotation. After that, the two fragments 
may have been moved further apart by the effects 
of ice sublimation, which would give a tiny push to 
an asteroid in one direction as water molecules are 
ejected in the other direction.

 The fact that 2006 VW139/288P is so different 
from all other known binary asteroids raises some 
questions about how common such systems are in 
the asteroid belt. “We need more theoretical and 
observational work, as well as more objects similar 
to this object, to find an answer to this question,” 
concluded Agarwal.

 The research is presented in a paper, to be 
published in the journal Nature this week.

 The Hubble Space Telescope is a project of 
international cooperation between NASA and ESA 
(European Space Agency). NASA’s Goddard Space 
Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the 
telescope. The Space Telescope Science Institute 
(STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland, conducts Hubble 
science operations. STScI is operated for NASA 
by the Association of Universities for Research in 
Astronomy, Inc., in Washington, D.C.

You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@


A Weekly Religion Column by Rev. James Snyder




Disaster Planning at Home


It was in the 60s when Simon and 
Garfunkel recorded their famous 
song, “The Sounds of Silence.”

I must confess that I do enjoy what 
I know of as “The Sounds of Silence.” Nothing is more 
relaxing than sitting back with a cup of coffee and enjoying 
the silence as it whistled by. This has become a rather 
infrequent period for me.

I love the silence and I enjoy the peace and quiet it brings.

The problem is, silence can be taken too far.

Recently, we were the target of a ferocious hurricane who 
tried to have her way with us. She snorted, huffed, puffed 
and stomped her way up through the state of Florida. As 
it turned out, although there was a tremendous amount of 
damage, it was not as bad as expected. That is something we 
can thank God for.

For almost a week, we were privileged to have her presence 
in our state. She did not stay as long as we expected and 
we were quite happy to see her go. The further north she 
went the less strength she had. The state of Florida simply 
exhausted her.

Here in Florida we are used to high winds and that sort of 
thing. Water, rain and flooding are a common occurrence 
here. We did have some record high flooding, but in the 
mainstream, we endured and got through it.

Many people were out of electricity for days and some for 
weeks at a time.

The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and her faithful 
companion did not lose electricity. We did lose, however, 
our Internet, phone and TV. That covered pretty much 
everything in our house.

My wife had her car filled with gas while I on the other hand, 
did not. I did not think it would last long, so I stuck it out 
because I really had no place to go. Where would I go?

Almost everything was closed. Even the gas stations at one 
point closed. Restaurants were closed so I could not go out 
and have lunch. Therefore, even though I did not have gas, I 
really did not need gas. I really had nowhere to go.

I did have a plan, though. I figured if we had to go 
somewhere, we could use my wife’s car. She always has 
plenty of gas, so I wasn’t worried.

Many people around us lost their electricity and I figured 
we would lose ours too. We did not and so I was most 
grateful. At least I could set in the living room with the air 
conditioner on enjoying myself.

As the days turned into more than I can remember, it started 
to get rather boring. We had no Internet or phone or TV so 
I did not know what was going on around us. It was quite 
exasperating to me.

I like to know what’s going on and what’s happening and 
what to expect.

“Just relax,” my wife said rather calmly, “everything is all 
right and we have nothing to fear.”

It wasn’t anything I wanted to Fear, there were just things 
I wanted to Know. Fear and Know are two very different 

Then she said something, which she thought, would calm 
me down a little bit.

“Remember,” she said most seriously, “that song by Simon 
and Garfunkel?”

I knew where she was going with this, but I had nothing else 
to do so I thought I would play along.

“No, I don’t,” I said as seriously as possible. “I can’t remember 
that far back.”

She scowled at me and then continued, “The Sounds of 

“We have electricity, the air conditioning is running, the 
refrigerator is okay and the stove is working so I can cook. 
We don’t have anything to worry about.”

“Just listen,” she continued, “to those wonderful sounds of 

It was about that time that the rain came down in torrential 
fury. I looked at her and smiled and she whirled back to the 
kitchen to cook supper.

Silence is wonderful if you’re in control of it. Too much 
silence can get a little bit aggravating, at least to someone like 
me. I enjoy the silence when I can open a book and enjoy the 
literature before me. Then I like to get on the Internet or TV 
and find out what is happening in the world.

Too much silence can be aggravating and then I got to 
thinking, what in the world did people do before we had 

This gave me a new appreciation for the things that I have. 
During those “Sounds of Silence,” I began to think about 
all the blessings I have in my life. Most of the time we do 
not appreciate what we have until we do not have them any 

What is the one thing I could do without? That is a hard 
question to ask, but I thought about it during the silence. 
One of the things I want to learn from this experience is to 
every day appreciate what I have because tomorrow I may 
not have it any longer.

I thought about what David wrote in the book of Psalms. 
“This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice 
and be glad in it.” (Psalms 118:24).

I only have one chance to rejoice and be glad in today, and 
I’m going to take it as much as I can.

Dr. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God 
Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with 
his wife in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 
or e-mail The church web site is

Last week, I gathered with a 
few friends and we watched 
on our television sets a 
magnitude of catastrophe 
that we’d not seen for a very long time. We saw 
Houston underwater, and tens of thousands of 
people displaced from their homes. Some died. We 
saw Florida with the largest evacuation of recent 
memory where maybe a million people fled from 
their homelands. Tens of thousands had homes 
destroyed. Many died. You could not help but be 
shaken to your core when you see whole families, 
whole neighborhoods, whole cities, uprooted, 
thrashed, flooded, destroyed. 

 It’s easy to watch from afar and hope that 
things get better. After all, we were dry, were 
drinking some excellent coffee, and were sitting 
in our comfortable surroundings. The complete 
upheaval that folks in the South are experiencing 
is incomprehensible, vast, and sobering. It is what 
you always hope and wish and pray never happens 
to you. All normal people of means rush in to help 
victims when such disasters occur, and that is a 
good thing.

 Still, I could not help but bring our conversation 
around to home. Each of us present that day had a 
functioning toilet at home, a working refrigerator 
and electricity, the availability of a gas station, 
banks, and grocery stores. We had roads that were 
reasonably flat and not under water. It was nearly 
impossible for us to relate to someone who had 
pretty much lost everything, including their whole 

 Yet, are we immune to such happening here? 
We’d probably never experience the hurricanes that 
the Gulf experiences, but our future could include 
severe drought, earthquakes, and pandemic 

 With an ever-rising L.A. County population, with 
a local landscape that can provide up to a quarter 
of the needed water, we can never afford to forget 
about the potential of water shortages and drought. 
Even if the landscape is green, we have ever-more 
people who want and need ever-decreasing water 
supplies. It’s good that the individual cities of 
Southern California have put forth initiatives to 
reduce water use – I’ve shared many of those details 
in this column and will continue to do so.

 In the case of an earthquake, there are many 
ways to be prepared. Perhaps the best way to 
start getting prepared is to inform yourself about 
the facts of your area, and learn which areas, and 
buildings, are most vulnerable. Think through 
the scenario of a major quake, where certainly 
electricity would be gone for awhile, and even 
water and gas lines would likely be broken. In your 
own home and Neighborhood Watch meeting, you 
should look at the consequences of no electricity, 
and no water running from the faucet. What are 
the steps you can take to minimize the impact?

 You should store water, and you should have 
as many manual (or battery operated) devices for 
every electrical device as possible. If you have 
questions about the details of this, please write.

 You should store medical supplies that you and 
your family might need. You should consider an 
alternative to the flush toilet. You should also 
consider having a supply of cash on hand – as 
much as you can afford – since your plastic will 
not likely be useful in the immediate aftermath of a 
major quake.

 Do you have dogs and cats and other pets? Be 
sure that you consider their needs in your planning 
for emergencies.

 When I appeared on National Geographic’s 
“Doomsday Preppers” show a few years ago, I tried 
to summarize the best way to be prepared for any 
emergency. Yes, have supplies and know how to 
use them. But even more important, I believe, is 
to develop friendships and relationships with like-
minded people, with a diverse array of skills, so 
you can all work together after an emergency. Also, 
rather than just collect stuff, you should take the 
time to continually learn new skills, especially those 
skills that would help you to survive and become 
self-reliant, such skills as gardening, canning, auto 
mechanics, electrical work, sewing, etc.

 I have tried to include a lot of this information 
in my “How to Survive Anywhere” book, which 
is available at Amazon, or from the Store at www.


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