Bad news in the New York Times, June 18th, 1996.
We're about, cosmologically speaking, to hit a bad patch. We thought we'd be surviving here a few more million years, creating thousands of new and greater civilizations, discovering even greater lows in political endeavor than heretofore possible, inventing millions of new sporting events involving any combination of human bodily contortions, before the sun goes through its eventual death throes and incinerates and swallows up Earth. We may not last so long.
Seems the sun is moving along through the galaxy, and there's a dust cloud up ahead.
This is not quite like that dust cloud under your bed, which you can either ignore or suck up in your vacuum cleaner, or let the cats eat. It's not even quite like the dust clouds that rolled around the midsection of this country during the Depression, although the effects of this dust cloud may well be something serious as well. No, this dust cloud, evidently sort of a wimpy one as these things go, could alter planetary climate, and probably not for the better, especially since little seems to alter our planet's climate for the better these days. It will probably be like driving through a swarm of large and juicy insects, and trying to see out, after. Or, a turbulent plane ride with Canada geese in place of the insects.
Cosmologically speaking, of course. Matter's a heck of a lot less dense out there, even where they think it is dusty. Astronomers are kind of like the in-law who can find the one streak of week-old dust in your house that you missed, after your rushed spate of trying to appease him/her in advance. Except that in space, little stuff really does matter. In short, matter matters.
Unfortunately, since we revolve around the sun, we Earth inhabitants are going along for the ride. Things were definitely better in the days when the sun revolved around Earth. We'd at least have the illusion of more control. Everything revolved around Earth in those days, which gave us Earthlings some sense of self-esteem.
This cloud seems to be coming from the Scorpius-Centaurus Association, which sounds like (and may well be) a New Age tenant-landlord's mediation group. Or a rock band. Or an area of new star generation, all of which will be given names like Koko and Zsa Zsa. The bad patch is about three or four light years away, or, at sun-speed, about 50000 years ahead of us, an astronomical hiccup.
So, not to worry yet, unless you are one of those types who plans to preserve your brainstem on ice for any cures that might come out around about then. Meanwhile, all you need to worry about from outer space are comets and meteors, especially since we humans haven't gotten so good at seeing them until they're almost upon us, when it's too late to change our orbit. Which, as a matter of fact, seems to be how we deal with most of our earthly problems, anyway. Oh, and watch out for the Aliens.