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  • Writer's pictureJames McGee


The above photo was taken by scientists at Germany’s Fraunhofer FHR research institute. It's of the Chinese Space Station Tiangong-1 - which means, apparently, Heavenly Palace. The craft is losing altitude and will be approaching Earth sometime this weekend; more precisely between March 31 and April 1. And no, this isn't a joke.

Reassuringly, we're told that most of the 10.4-metre-long station will, in fact, burn up as it zooms through our atmosphere. But some parts will survive and reach the ground, according to the European Space Agency’s Space Debris Office.

Wait, there's a Space Debris Office? Can't help wondering if it's anything like our local council's waste management department and whether it's a full-time operation or if it only operates every other Tuesday and are there different coloured bins for satellites, space stations and space shuttle silica tiles?

Be funny if on the way down it bumped into Elon Musk's roadster heading in the opposite direction.

The main thing, though is not to panic, despite the fact that it's speeding towards us at a fair old lick. According to the BBC Breakfast, you've got more chance of being struck by lightning twice in the same year than you have of this thing landing in your immediate vicinity. That's unless you live somewhere between latitudes 42.8° N (as far north as Chicago) and 42.8° S (as far south as Tasmania).

Well, that's all right, then, but I can't help recalling the last fateful gasp of Union Army General John Sedgwick, who, in 1864, during the American Civil War at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, supposedly uttered the immortal words: 'They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist -'

When he was shot dead by a Confederate sniper...

Happy sky watching...

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