“1972 AT4 was discovered when it was still outside the orbit of Neptune. Within months, we knew its size and trajectory. The asteroid was cataloged and renamed 14885 Madelinejohnson in honor of its discoverer, an amateur astronomer living in Yuma, Arizona. It was headed into the inner solar system but the risk to Earth seemed small.

“As the years went by, it became clear that the risk had been significantly underestimated. When it passed within Mars’ orbit, it was visible to the naked eye, motionless against the background stars yet slowly increasing in magnitude.

“We renamed it Mjölnir, Thor’s Hammer.

“That was a few short weeks ago. In the all-too-brief time since then, we’ve lived and loved, we’ve laughed and cried, we’ve said our goodbyes to family and friends. Here we stand. There isn’t much time left and we still have half a dozen bottles that haven’t been opened. The time for tears has passed. Does everyone have some champagne? Yes? Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to propose a toast…”

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