Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Death of Kristi Johnson

Today is the birthday of Kristi Johnson. She would have been 37 years old today. As promised this is a re-post of a story first published on Feb 27th 2011

Another sad story for me to write involving a beautiful young girl from Michigan.
A few weeks ago, a little more than a month, I wasn't feeling very well, and between bouts of running to the bathroom, for a time I stayed in bed, covers up to chin, while I watched MSNBC on my television. This was on a Saturday, near noon, and because there is no news on the weekends, MSNBC devotes it's programming time to stories about being locked up in prison, or in this case, the NBC newsmagazine, Dateline, of which most of the information in this post is based.
As I laid in bed I began watching the episode entitled "Death in the Hollywood Hills." The correspondent who reported this story was Keith Morrison, and it was first aired on March 1st, of 2007. It concerned the young woman mentioned above, 21 year old Kristi Johnson.
Like so many other hopefuls she came to Southern California in 2001 in search of a job in the entertainment industry.
Terry Hall, Kristi's mother: “She thought, 'I would really like to be involved in this industry but on the production side of it, on the other side of the camera.'”
She was exceptionally pretty, as the pictures above indicate (Hall: "She could you know tie her hair back in a ponytail and wear no make-up and look absolutely smashing. Or she could put on her high heels and a great outfit and look a totally a different way too"), and was repeatedly told she should audition for acting jobs.
Hall: "Kristi loved the beach. And she told me you know how beautiful it was and how much she was enjoying being in California."
Kristi and her mother were very close and spoke to each other every day. In 2003, on Valentine's Day, another Saturday, Kristi called her mother and told her she was going shopping at the mall. That was the last time she got to speak to her daughter.
A nightmare was about to begin for Terry. One that every caring parent must dread the possibility of enduring. Thousands of miles away, the link to Kristi's existence suddenly faded away. She should have called her mom back the next day. No word was heard from her.
Two days passed. No word... no call.
Terry filed a missing person's report with the police in Santa Monica. Det. Virginia Obenchain was given the case.
Det. Obenchain: "The original patrol officer that was sent to take the missing persons report didn’t feel too good about the circumstances, so he came upstairs to the detective bureau, and I was the only one upstairs. So he told me, and I remember when he explained the circumstances, the hair on the back of my neck started to rise.
We talked to the roommate, and the roommate told us that she had gone to Century City mall, went shopping there and was very excited when she came home because she was going to audition for a James Bond clip.
There are some girls that will go with perfect strangers in the hopes that they can make it big. They don’t know Hollywood. They just come in, and they figure, 'Oh, back in the old days where you used to meet at the drug store counter and then you’re all of a sudden a star...' some gals still believe that that can happen."
Morrison: "Does it?"
Det. Obenchain: "Not that I know of."
Kristi remained missing, and Det. Obenchain had few clues to work with. She held a press conference and explained Kristi's case, and got a call from another young woman on a tip line, who said that she had been approached too in the Century City Mall.
21 days before Kristi went to the mall to look for a Valentine’s gift, Susan Murphy was approached by a man who claimed to be in the entrainment business, and that his name was Victor Thomas.
Murphy: "He looked normal and he just said, “I think you’re very attractive. He said, 'I’m a director of photography and we’re casting for the new James Bond movie.' And he said, 'We’ve been casting all day and you’re the look we want, you’re perfect.'
I’d had enough experience to kind of know that this was a come-on, a pick-up. And I knew that and— I was very intrigued. If it’s true, hey cool, that’d be great. How fun would that be, to be a 'Bond Girl?' I think every girl has a dream about that."
Five years earlier this happened to yet another pretty girl, Cathy Debuono.
"He told me he really liked my legs and that he was working closely with the James Bond movies and that they were looking for new people, people who weren’t so recognizable. He talked about 'big bucks.' He named numbers of money that I can’t recall today, but it was a lot of money."
To Cathy the man's name was Brian.
"He wasn’t lascivious at all. He didn’t try to touch me. He didn’t try to flirt with me or come onto me. He seemed like he could be legitimately in the business and talking to me about a real opportunity."
Susan told Det. Obenchain that the man had requested she ware specific types of clothing for her "audition."
"He said it’s very important that I wear stilettos," she said. "Black stilettos as high as possible. And then he said a black mini-skirt preferably, but any mini-skirt would be great. Panty hose, pantyhose not nylons, a white man’s shirt, hair slicked back really tight in a ponytail. And a man’s tie. And he said he would provide the tie."
Det. Obenchain: "And, that happens to be everything that Kristi purchased on February 15."
In the hours before she disappeared, Kristi Johnson bought a black mini skirt, sheer nylons, stiletto heels, and the white shirt. This is what was so heart wrenching for me as I watched this on my television. You see there was actual video footage taken in the Mall of Kristi on that day, footage of her being approached by a man, although his features were indiscernible, and other footage of Kristi making those purchases. What I can't seem to wrap around my head is the report of Kristi's roommate saying that Kristi was so excited, so happy to be getting this break, and her apparent joy and happiness as she bought these items, you could almost see it in the videos, her hopes of getting that impossible opportunity that thousands of men and women dream about, only to discover a human monster instead, one that would use her and end her short life.
For that's exactly what happened very soon after those last video pictures of Kristi Johnson alive were taken that day. I'll never get those images out of my consciousness for the rest of my life.
I'm not a father. I've not been fortunate in life to have had that privilege. But I can imagine the pleasure of having a child that is part of you, to share that beautiful creatures early life, to help mold that child's world view, helping it to understand, and one day cope with the world's intricacies and joys, and dangers. Of sharing birthdays, and Christmases, and spelling tests, and first dates, and Halloweens, and everything else, and then to suddenly have all of that abruptly taken away by the insane acts of that human monster. Maybe just monster, for the act perpetrated upon Kristi can hardly be called human.
It rained hard during the winter of 2003. In the hills above Hollywood rivers of water poured off the hills, and mud, and one day some hikers found what looked like the remains of a female body.
Det. Obenchain: "Kristine’s body was found. Her hands tied behind her back. Her legs tied. She was partially in a sleeping bag, and she was severely decomposed from the shoulders up."
Morrison: "Simply by being out of doors in a very rainy, wet season."
Det. Obenchain: "Correct."
Morrison: "Dumped."
Det. Obenchain: "Dumped."
Terry Hall: "I think Kristi appreciated life very much. She was very aware that what there was in this world, you know that was beautiful about this world."
The name of the man who murdered Kristi is Victor Paleologus, 40 years old at the time, and had no connection with the film industry. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about this piece of filth. The two women he had attempted this scam on before had taken precautions when meeting him for the "audition," one taking a male friend along. They were able to identify Paleologus, after a police sketch had been issued of the person of interest in Kristi's case. A parole officer contacted Det. Obenchain and told her he was one of theirs. Fortunately for Det. Obenchain, Paleologus was already in county jail for an unrelated offense. He admitted to meeting Kristi on that day, but nothing else.
Any physical evidence that might have tied Kristi's murder to Paleologus had been washed away, but after his arrest got a little publicity other witnesses came forth, and...
Det. Obenchain: "We had another woman call us on the tip line, and she said that she saw Mr. Paleologus at the Century City mall on February 15. We also got a call from Mr. Paul Cady who is a realtor, who had shown Mr. Paleologus numerous houses, particularly one house on Skyline Drive that was several hundred yards away from where her body was found."
The prosecution brought in Susan Murphy, Cathy Debuono, and other women who had encountered Paleologus in the past.
Susan Murphy: "Anyone who was in that court will tell you my voice. I was shaking. There’s a jury right there. And then just looking at her family, that broke my heart. Broke my heart. And I kept thinking about, what if that was my dad sitting out there?"
Over 3 years after her disappearance, 13 days into his trial, Paleologus decided to make a deal and pled guilty to Kristi's murder.
The deal: He would escape the death penalty and get 25 to life with the possibility of parole but without the right to appeal.
Morrison: "Was it important to the family to hear him say, 'I killed your daughter?'"
Det. Obenchain: "It was."
Morrison: "Did they get as much as they wanted in that respect?"
Det. Obenchain: "No. I think they wanted to know why she had to die. I have a theory. I can’t prove it. Only Victor knows if it’s true. But I think he lured her up there for the purposes of raping her. He assaulted her, she fought back, he strangled her, went a little too far, she lost consciousness, he thought he had killed her and he dumped her over the hill."
Morrison: "You think it’s even possible she went down the side of that hill still alive?"
Det. Obenchain: "According to the coroner the head wound was peri-mortem, which is on the brink of death, so she may have still been alive."
Then Paleologus asked the judge through a letter if he could withdraw his guilty plea. The judge denied his request.
Kristi's parents were then allowed to address the murderer of their daughter.
Kirk Johnson, Kristi’s father: "The reason we are here is because of Mr. Paleologus. And there is a reason why this happened. Only God knows. And I can’t find an answer for that."
Terry Hall: "Victor Paleologus has been allowed the freedom to let the evil in his life escalate, resulting in the heinous murder of Kristi my beloved young daughter, a beautiful young woman on the threshold of her life."
Judge: "For the willful deliberate and premeditated first degree murder of Kristine Johnson, the court sentences the defendant to serve 25 years to life in the state penitentiary."
Christine Kludjian: "One had to die for us to pay attention? One had to die for us to look at a situation and say, 'Wait a minute, what is going on with our laws in this country that put repeat offenders who are not rehabilitateable out on the street again and again and again?'"
Back in jail Victor Paleologus continued to deny killing Kristi, stating he only pled guilty because it would cost too much to go to trial.
He continues to deny the murder to this day.
Here is the link to the Dateline story:

  Today would have been Kristi's 37th birthday.

Below is an essay written by Kristi's mother, Terry Hall:

I reported Kristi as missing on Monday morning, February 17, 2003. It was about two weeks later that I retrieved a phone message telling me her body had been discovered. I was alone in the back of a limo at night heading into New York City. The plans had been to speak on a national talk show the next morning to continue efforts escalating publicity on Kristi’s disappearance in the hopes that she was still alive and would be found. The words on the voice mail from the chief of police confirming Kristi’s death extinguished all hope. I was engulfed with an overwhelming physical hollowness and a mental paralysis. At the same time, I was filled with a presence of strength and love. I was not alone in the back of the limo; a spirit resided within me. Kristi was now at peace in an everlasting world filled with love.
During the search for Kristi, everything moved rapidly — but not fast enough. The last time I had spoken with Kristi was on Saturday, February 15, 2003, the day of her murder. We spoke with each other daily. That morning we chatted a little about this and that; I thanked her for the e-Valentine she had sent me the day before. It was a sweet message accompanied by a song she liked. She was going to go to the mall later on; she wanted to buy some candles. I told her to pick some out. The candles would be my Valentine Day present to her. President's Day was going to be on Monday, she had to work but I had the day off.
Later during the day, I tried to call Kristi. She didn’t pick up. The next day I tried several times to call her again, still no pick up. I thought it was odd; maybe she didn’t remember to charge her cell phone or maybe she was busy with friends. Whatever the reason, I’d try back on Monday morning.
Monday morning came and still nothing. At 9 a.m., I called her office number; no pick up on her direct line. I called the main number and they hadn’t heard from her either. This was unusual since Kristi was always on time or would have called if running late.
The next call I made was to the Santa Monica Police Department to report Kristi as missing. I was concerned she had been in an accident. The SMPD suggested I contact local hospitals. I called multiple hospitals. Kristi had not been admitted to any of them. I called SMPD back to confirm reporting Kristi as missing. An officer was deployed to her apartment around noon to interview one of her roommates. The search for Kristi was on.
Every waking moment was spent ramping up the search efforts for Kristi. Any possible scenario of her whereabouts was ever present in my mind. Phone calls became constant. Missing persons and search organizations, the media, the police department, family, friends, Kristi’s co-workers. Pictures of Kristi were put together to assist in building the awareness of her [being] missing. The circumstances related to Kristi's disappearance combined with her beauty and innocence heightened media interest. I was grateful to get the attention to build awareness of search efforts. Time was lapsing but never my hope that she would be found. I hadn’t known at this time the fact that after 72 hours of a person [being] missing, they most would not be found alive.
Kristi’s birthday was coming up soon. She was born on February 27, 1981. She would have turned 22 years old on that birthday had she lived. I reached out to the Episcopal Church in Santa Monica to organize a vigil on Kristi’s birthday. I had been an Episcopalian all my life and Kristi and her brother grew up attending the Episcopal Church. Saint Augustine by the Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica welcomed me with love and support.
A candlelight vigil was held on Kristi’s birthday, February 27. On the evening the vigil was held, I received much love, support and prayers. The music at the service was beautiful. Two songs were sung, one “You Are So Beautiful To Me,” a song I used to sing to Kristi as a baby when I rocked her to sleep. The other song, “Hero,” by Enrique Iglesias, was the song Kristi had sent to me in her e-Valentine. The crowd that had gathered for the vigil proceeded outside to the courtyard while singing and holding lit candles. A circle of prayer was formed under a beautiful tree within the courtyard. This would eventually be the location of the Fountain of Joy in Kristi’s memory.
On March 3, 2003, Kristi’s body was discovered down a ravine in the Hollywood hills. The circumstances of her murder are beyond horrendous. After receiving the news of Kristi’s death, all my energy immediately went to planning a beautiful funeral. This was my last opportunity to lay Kristi to rest with the respect and dignity her life deserved. The activity of dealing with details of funeral preparation somehow kept me functional. It diminished my deep dark grief.
I shopped for Kristi for the last time, picking out a lovely sleeping gown and wrap for her to be dressed in. Even though the casket would be closed, it gave me comfort to know I could somehow make a contribution to honor her, no matter how unnecessary. I could barely see the road driving home as my eyes welted with tears, the shopping bag on floor next to me containing the sleeping gown packed in a gift box.
Kristi’s funeral was held at the Episcopal Church in the town where I was then living, Los Gatos, Calif. Simultaneously, a memorial service for Kristi was being held at the Episcopal Church in Saugatuck, Mich. A memorial service was also held later that week in Santa Monica, at St. Augustine by the Sea Episcopal Church.
While Kristi's brother and I were planning her funeral with the Father at St. Luke’s in Los Gatos, he told us that his mother had always said, “Funerals are for the living.” These words still reside with me. Not only was Kristi’s funeral for the living, but also any future tributes to Kristi’s life would be for the living. Kristi loved life and that’s how she would want us to continue ours.
An incredible amount of people had given time, effort and support during the search effort for Kristi. People continued to give of themselves and made financial donations in her memory after her death. I contacted St. Augustine by the Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica to discuss possible projects to channel contributions to. The church had started a project a couple years before to erect a fountain in the courtyard but the project had taken a back burner.
A fountain sounded perfect. My parents have a fountain in the courtyard at their home. This fountain had always been a focal point of family photo shoots during gatherings and events. The fountain could represent so much of what Kristi’s life emitted, it would be called the Fountain of Joy.
It’s been over three years since Kristi’s murder. The trial just recently completed with an outcome we can be satisfied with. The Fountain of Joy project is still living. As with many projects, it’s evolved into a larger undertaking than originally anticipated. The Fountain of Joy’s concept and intent have grown as well.
The Fountain of Joy is still a tribute to Kristi’s life and a gift to all inside and beyond the community who gave so unselfishly during a time of another person’s tragedy. Many of the people who donated their energies did not even know Kristi or anything about her. It was inspiring for me during my difficult journey to see how truly loving and generous people are.
In addition to these tributes, the Fountain of Joy will also be presented to anyone seeking a place of respite and meditation from the challenges of daily life. The fountains beautiful final design, comprised of natural elements; water, stone and light, will evoke the essence of the project, to “Celebrate the Quiet Power.”
How wonderful it will be to see a tranquil welcoming spot in the middle of a busy metropolis welcoming the human sprit to pause, gain strength and celebrate the beauty of this world. I hope the Fountain of Joy will help flourish the joy, love and celebration encompassed in Kristi’s life. Terry Hall, November 9th, 2006

I'm sorry to report that I took a trip to the St. Augustine by the Sea Episcopal Church in Santa Monica one recent Sunday morning, and no one there could point out, tell me about, or remember anything concerning the Fountain of Joy. After only five years it seems to have been discarded and forgotten, or perhaps it was never built.
But I, and this website will always remember Kristi and her short, beautiful, wondrous life, and will repost this story every February 27th for the remainder of Joyce's Take's active existence.
Not only for Kristi, though she would be enough, but for all of the children who have tragically died under similar circumstances. All of those children who disappear. All of the ones we have loved and refuse to forget.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018


Asteroids are rocky worlds revolving around the sun that are too small to be called planets. They are also known as planetoids or minor planets. There are millions of asteroids, ranging in size from hundreds of miles to several feet across. In total, the mass of all the asteroids is less than that of Earth's moon.

A meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic body in outer space. Meteoroids are significantly smaller than asteroids, and range in size from small grains to one-meter-wide objects. Objects smaller than this are classified as micrometeoroids or space dust.Most are fragments from comets or asteroids, whereas others are collision impact debris ejected from bodies such as the Moon or Mars.

The difference between asteroids and meteoroids is mainly one of size: meteoroids have a diameter of less than one meter, whereas asteroids have a diameter of greater than one meter

A near-Earth object (NEO) is any small Solar System body whose orbit can bring it into proximity with Earth. By definition, a Solar System body is a NEO if its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) is less than 1.3 astronomical unit (AU).[2] If a NEO's orbit crosses that of the Earth's and the object is larger than 140 meters across, it is considered a potentially hazardous object (PHO). Most known PHOs and NEOs are asteroids

A meteorite is a solid piece of debris from an object, such as a comet, asteroid, or meteoroid, that originates in outer space and survives its passage through the atmosphere to reach the surface of a planet or moon.

Michigan meteor

Picture Legend

1. Artist rendering of a Near Earth Object
2. Indian ice-ball (don’t eat that yellow snow!)
3. Detroit meteorite
4. The Asteroid Belt and associated families
5. Spaceguard
6. Chelyabinsk fireball
7. Porous chondrite interplanetary dust particle.
8. Projected orbital path of Asteroid 2002 AJ129 on February 4th, 2018
9. Another view of 2002 AJ129‘s orbit relative to the Solar System’s orbital plane
10. The hyperbolic trajectory of Oumuamua through the inner Solar System with the Sun at the focus
11. Rama and the Solar Survey Ship Endeavor
12. Time exposed picture of ʻOumuamua
13. Simulation of ʻOumuamua spinning and tumbling through space, and the resultant light curve which was the only information available to infer ‘Oumuamua shape
14. Artist's impression of ʻOumuamua

January 13, 2018    Fazilpur Badli Village, India  2:38PM

   "There was big thud and people of the village came running out of their homes to find out what had happened," senior official Vivek Kalia told the BBC.
   "Some villagers thought it was an extraterrestrial object," he added.
   "Others thought it was some celestial rock and I've heard that they took samples home."
   It is extremely unfortunate that what these inquisitive villagers brought into their homes in the hope of making a rare and grand scientific discovery were pieces of a 26 pound chunk of frozen  human crap that had apparently dropped from an overhead airplane traveling at a high altitude.
   Although the airline industry states it is not a common practice to dump anything from their planes while in flight, sometimes, they say, urine and faeces forms around the plane's overflow outlet, turning icy as the craft cruises at high altitudes. Blocks of this stuff  then fall from the planes, but mostly break up before reaching the planet’s surface. Sometimes they don't however, and the resultant projectiles can cause serious damage to property or injuries to people and animals.
   "Villagers who kept it inside their refrigerators are disappointed and are now busy cleaning their houses," one resident told the Times of India.
   These icy shit-balls are not asteroids, or even meteorites. They’re just... icy chunks of frozen human waste.
   Very unfortunate.

January 17th, 2018  Detroit, Michigan   8:08 PM

   A real meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere above Detroit briefly lighting up the night sky. It was caught on several cameras, including NASA’s own meteor camera located at Oberlin College in Ohio.
   “I went to turn and I noticed a ball of flame coming at an angle,” Danny McEwen Jr. told the Detroit News. He said he was driving when “it just blew up into a bunch of sparks. I didn’t even know what to think. It was kind of odd how orange the sky was behind me and this blaze of flame out of nowhere.”
   NASA said on its Meteor Watch Facebook page that “we have calculated that this was a very slow moving meteor — speed of about 28,000 miles per hour.
   “This fact, combined with the brightness of the meteor (which suggests a fairly big space rock at least a yard across), shows that the object penetrated deep into the atmosphere before it broke apart (which produced the sounds heard by many observers). It is likely that there are meteorites on the ground near this region — one of our colleagues at Johnson Space Center (JSC) has found a Doppler weather radar signature characteristic of meteoritic material falling to earth.
  Bill Cooke from NASA’s meteoroid environment office in Alabama told The Detroit News he estimates the meteor was about one or two yards across, weighed more than one metric ton and traveled between 40,000 to 50,000 miles to get to Earth.
   But from where? That, my friends, no one is talking about.
   Ever since Arthur C Clarke destroyed the Italian cities of Verona and Padua, and sank Venice due to an astroid impact in his 1973 novel “Rendezvous With Rama,” efforts have been made to identify and track Near Earth Objects (NEOs). Clarke invented Project Spaceguard, which utilized advanced computerization and Mars based telescopes to keep an eye on the sky. The United States, in it’s efforts, first stole Dr. Clarke’s title (Spaceguard), then adopted this name to a number of real life efforts to discover and study Near-Earth Objects.
   A 1992 US Congressional study produced a "Spaceguard Survey Report" which led to a mandate that NASA locate 90% of near-Earth asteroids larger than 1 kilometer (0.621371 miles) within 10 years. This is often referred to as the "Spaceguard Goal." A number of efforts which receive money through NASA are all considered to be working on the "Spaceguard Project." (the initial Spaceguard Goal was achieved, although in slightly longer than 10 years. An extension to the project gave NASA the mandate of reducing the minimum size at which more than 90% of near-Earth asteroids are known to 140 meters (459.318 feet))
   One of those efforts is the NASA’s Near-Earth Object Observations Program, which is a subdivision of NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO).
   The Near-Earth Object Observations Program is responsible for finding, tracking, and characterizing NEOs, asteroids and comets whose orbits periodically bring them within approximately 1.3 Astronomical Units (AU, the distance between the Sun and the Earth... approximately 92.96 million miles) of the Sun. This implies that they can come within 0.3 AU – about 30 million miles, or 50 million kilometers – of Earth’s orbit.
   Unfortunately NASA recently and for a third time chose not to fully fund a mission called NEOCam: a proposal for a powerful asteroid-hunting space telescope that could help keep track of asteroids that have the potential of impacting with the Earth.
   The work that the Near-Earth Object Observations Program and other entities associated with the Spaceguard Survey is impressive, and so far we’ve avoided colliding with large asteroids and comets.
   But Spaceguard hasn’t identified and tracked everything.
   On February 15th, 2013, (03:13PM UTC, 7:13AM PT) an asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere over Russia as a fireball and exploded above the city of Chelyabinsk during its passage through the Ural Mountains region. The object's air burst occurred at an altitude between 30 and 50 kilometers (19 and 31 miles) above the ground, and about 1,500 people were injured, mainly by broken window glass shattered by the shock wave. Two were reported in serious condition; however, there were no fatalities. Initially some 3,000 buildings in six cities across the region were reported damaged due to the explosion's shock wave, a figure which rose to over 7,200 in the following weeks. The Chelyabinsk meteor was estimated to have caused over $30 million in damage. It is the largest recorded object to have encountered the Earth since the 1908 Tunguska Event, by far the best documented, and the only such event known to have resulted in a large number of casualties. The meteor is estimated to have an initial diameter of 17–20 meters (55 - 65 feet) and a mass of roughly 10,000 tons (on October 16th, 2013, a team from Ural Federal University led by Victor Grokhovsky recovered a large fragment of the meteor from the bottom of Russia’s Lake Chebarkul, about 80 kilometers west of the city).
   Space rocks falling from the sky is hardly unusual. It happens all of the time. It’s really just a matter of size. The larger the rock, the less frequently they fall to the surface of the planet.
   Extraterrestrial dust, ranging in size from a few molecules to 0.1 µm (micrometers), or 3.93701e-6 inches in size, with a mass between 10 minus16kg (0.1 picograms) and 10 minus 4 kg (100 milligrams) rain down onto the planets surface constantly.
   That might not sound like a lot to you but it adds up. The amount of extraterrestrial dust that falls to Earth each day is estimated to be 60 tons, or almost 22,000 tons a year. This is the main reason it is so hard to keep your car clean if you leave it parked outside.
   In the news lately are stories about the asteroid asteroid 2002 AJ129 which on February 4th  will fly closest to the Earth at around 1:30 p.m. PT, according to a press release by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
   NASA considers this asteroid (which is estimated to be between 500 -- 200 meters across (1640.42 -- 3937.008 feet)) "potentially hazardous" because it will pass within 0.028126 AU (4,207,600 kilometers; 2,614,500 miles)  from the Earth, and because of it’s relatively large size.
   2002 AJ129, with an orbital period (the time it takes an object to make one orbit around another celestial body, in this case, the Sun) of just 1.61 years (586.31 days), will come much closer to the Earth on February 8th, 2172, at a distance of about 0.00458 AU (685,000 kilometers; 426,000 miles).
   "We have been tracking this asteroid for over 14 years and know its orbit very accurately," Paul Chodas, an astronomer who manages NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies at JPL, said in a press release. "Our calculations indicate that asteroid 2002 AJ129 has no chance — zero — of colliding with Earth on Feb. 4 or any time over the next 100 years."
   Good news!
   There is one object that we know of that has no orbital period at all, which means it does not orbit the Sun, or anything in the solar system.
   Last year, on October 19th, astronomer Robert J. Weryk, using the Pan-STARRS telescope at Haleakala Observatory in Hawaii, discovered 1I/2017 U1, what would later be called ʻOumuamua, which turned out to be the first known interstellar object to pass through the Solar System, 40 days after it passed its closest point to the Sun.
   When Weryk first observed ‘Oumuamua it was approximately 33,000,000 kilometers (21,000,000 miles; 0.22 AU) from the Earth (about 85 times as far away as the Moon), and heading away from the Sun. It was initially thought to be a simple comet, and reclassified as an asteroid a week later. On November 6th it was finally deemed to be the first of a new class of interstellar objects.
   The name ʻOumuamua comes from the Hawaiian ʻoumuamua, meaning 'scout', (from ʻou, meaning 'reach out for', and mua, reduplicated for emphasis​, meaning 'first, in advance of' and reflects the way this object is like a scout or messenger sent from the distant past to reach out to mankind (and womankind too!).
   Before the official name was decided upon, the name Rama was suggested, the name given to an alien spacecraft discovered under similar circumstances (‘Oumuamua has the same hyperbolic trajectory (indicating that it is not gravitationally bound to the Sun) as Rama did) in the science fiction novel “Rendezvous with Rama” by Arthur C. Clarke.
    This object may be referred to as 1I; 1I/2017 U1; 1I/ʻOumuamua; or 1I/2017 U1 (ʻOumuamua).
   ʻOumuamua is a relatively small object, estimated to be about 230 by 35 meters (800 ft × 100 ft) in size. It has a dark red color, similar to objects in the outer Solar System.
   It has no volatile compounds on it’s surface, like water or ammonia ice as it showed no signs  of a cometary tail despite its close approach to the Sun. It is an elongated object, similar to an oversized flattened out tree trunk. It is thought to be a metal-rich rock with a relatively high density.
   ʻOumuamua is tumbling (most likely, ʻOumuamua was set tumbling by a collision in its system of origin, and remains tumbling since the time scale for dissipation of this motion is very long, at least a billion years) rather than smoothly rotating, and it is moving so fast relative to the Sun that there is no chance it originated in the Solar System. It also means that it cannot be captured into a solar orbit (hyperbolic), so it will eventually leave the Solar System and resume traveling into interstellar space. ʻOumuamua's system of origin and the amount of time it has spent traveling amongst the stars are unknown.
   One week after ʻOumuamua's discovery, asteroid hunter Luca Buzzi tracked it from northern Italy with a 50-minute image exposure on October 26th. In an email, Buzzi said he fought thin cirrus clouds to barely pull the asteroid above the visual threshold using his 0.84-meter telescope and Planetary Society (an American internationally active, non-governmental, nonprofit foundation, founded in 1980 by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Louis Friedman, and has over 50,000 members from more than 100 countries around the world. Bill Nye, is the current chief executive officer, and Neil deGrasse Tyson serves on its advisory council)-funded CCD camera (picture 12). He ordinarily uses the equipment to track potentially hazardous near-Earth asteroids.
   Based on observations spanning 34 days, ʻOumuamua's orbital eccentricity (a parameter that determines the amount by which an objects orbit around another body deviates from a perfect circle. A value of 0 is a circular orbit, values between 0 and 1 form an elliptic orbit, 1 is a parabolic escape orbit, and greater than 1 is a hyperbola) is 1.20, the highest ever observed. An eccentricity above 1.0 means an object exceeds the Sun's escape velocity and is not bound to the Solar System, and may escape to interstellar space. While an eccentricity slightly above 1.0 can be obtained by encounters with planets, ʻOumuamua's eccentricity is so high it could not have been obtained through an encounter with any of the Sun's planets, known or unknown. Even undiscovered planets, if any exist, could not account for ʻOumuamua's trajectory any undiscovered planet must be far from the Sun and hence moving slowly according to Kepler's laws of planetary motion. Encounters with such a planet could not boost ʻOumuamua's speed to the observed value,  and therefore ʻOumuamua can only be of interstellar origin.
   ʻOumuamua entered the Solar System from above the plane of the ecliptic. The pull of the Sun's gravity caused it to speed up until it reached its maximum speed of 87.71 kilometers per second (196,200 mph) as it passed below the ecliptic on September 6th and made a sharp turn upward at its closest approach to the Sun (perihelion) on September 9th at a distance of 0.255 AU (38,100,000 kilometers; 23,700,000 miles) from the Sun, about 17% closer than the planet Mercury's closest approach to the Sun. The object is now heading away from the Sun (towards the constellation Pegasus) at an angle of 66° from the direction of its approach.
   On the outward leg of its journey through the Solar System, ʻOumuamua passed below the orbit of Earth on October 14th at a distance of approximately 0.1616 AU (24,180,000 kilometers; 15,020,000 miles) from Earth, and went back above the ecliptic on October 16th and passed above the orbit of Mars on November 1st. It will pass above Jupiter's orbit in May of this year,  Saturn's orbit in January of next year, and Neptune's orbit in 2022.
   As it leaves the Solar System it will be approximately right ascension (RA) 23h51m and declination +24°45', in Pegasus. It will continue to slow down until it reaches a speed of 26.33 kilometers a second relative to the Sun, the same speed it had before its approach to the Solar System.
   It will take the object roughly 20,000 years to leave the Solar System completely.
   Unlike Rama ʻOumuamua is traveling too fast for any existing spacecraft to reach. Astronomers estimate that several interstellar objects similar to ʻOumuamua pass inside the orbit of Earth each year. If true, that would provide possible opportunities for future studies of interstellar objects, although with the current space technology, close visits and orbital missions are impossible due to their high speeds.
   As a teenager I read “Rendezvous with Rama” with rapt fascination, and wondered what kind of civilization would and could have built such a craft, and for what purpose. None of those questions are answered in Dr. Clarke’s novel.
   With all of the stale, reworked, superhero sequels, the umpteenth Star Wars episode (which are actually just fueled by a series of battle scenes), cop, doctor, and crime mysteries, mindless action films, and remakes of movies that shouldn’t be remade (Steve martin as Inspector Clouseau comes to mind) and the advent of Daddy’s Home  and Bad Santa 2, why in the world hasn’t “Rendezvous with Rama” been made into a movie (or Fountains of Paradise, for that matter. Childhood’s End was made into a television mini-series, and it was just awful)?! It has been said that both Morgan Freeman and director David Fincher wanted to make a film of “Rendezvous with Rama” but they were hampered by the lack of a good script.
   Really? I find this difficult to believe.
   It’s all there in the book! There is a reason the book is a science fiction classic. Just follow the book. Nothing more needs to be added or embellished (although there is a natural tendency to make films that are significantly different than their source material in Hollywood, like 2008‘s remake of the 1951 classic The Day the Earth Stood Still, which in my opinion was a mediocre effort (although it made a lot of money)). It’s all in the book.
   Hell, I’ll write a script.
   In any case, we now have a real interstellar entity visiting our solar system. Let’s try and behave while it is still here so it will think kindly of us as it makes its way back to the stars.

Addendum 3-19-18 Proposal that Oumuamua was ejected from a binary star system

Addendum 5-22-18 Is Oumuamua really the only extrasolar asteroid to visit our solar system?