Today's Independent headline:
HOUSE-SIZED ASTEROID WILL PASS NEAR TO EARTH THIS WEEK!
Yep, that's right.; a chunk of space rock the size of your average semi-detached, with the innocuous moniker 2012 TC-4, will hurtle past our planet at a rate of... well, I have absolutely no idea, but it'll be travelling really quickly. And how far are we away from possible annihilation? Around 25,000 miles, give or take, which in terms of an endless universe is nothing. It's around a tenth of the distance between the the top of your garden fence and the moon.
But have no fear, the boffins - that's Mr and Mrs Boffin from no 37, just down the road - have assured us there is no chance of it crashing into the top soil. Well that's a relief.
Apparently, scientists have been keeping a beady eye on the thing for a few months and are convinced we're in no danger. This despite it being the same size as the meteoroid that exploded over Chelyabinsk in 2013, and whose shock waves blew out the windows of thousands of buildings and injured more than 1,000 people.
Oh, and it's expected to approach the planet at a point south of Australia.
Well, that's all right then. I live in Somerset.
However, the word in the lab is that it will likely return in 2050 and 2079 as it continually loops around the sun.
And here comes the kicker. The people in the know - they're the ones in the white coats with funny hair and pen pockets - have warned:
“We know today that it will also not hit the Earth in the year 2050, but the close flyby in 2050 might deflect the asteroid such that it could hit the Earth in the year 2079.”
The article ends on a less than encouraging note.
'There is little to be done in terms of planetary defence at the moment, except carry out evacuations of anyone in harm’s way.'
In other words, be prepared to run...very fast.