Thursday, November 01, 2007

Going With The Numbers

Yesterday I was re-writing a scene in my latest novel and I felt unsatisfied by the visual description. The event was rather dramatic -- a 6 mile wide asteroid passing by overhead, just barely touching the upper atmosphere. This was the background for important dialog in the characters lives, so when I wrote it first, I wrote characters first and description second.

But then I realized I really needed to get the facts straight. Just how big did that asteroid look? So, I fired up the spreadsheet and laid out a timeline, second by second. I plugged in reasonable numbers for the velocity and distances and added a little trig to get the visual angles.

Wow. I'd like to see that myself. From a pinpoint of light, the size of the asteroid grew to over 8 times the diameter of the full moon in just five to ten minutes, and then shrunk away just as fast. The last ten seconds would have been intense. Lots of screaming among the populace.

1 comment:

Chris said...

That does sound dramatic!