30 March 2007

June - July 2003

June - July 2003

June 14, 2003

NASA Worried Over Sun's Activity

by Mitch Battros (ECTV)

I have received several notices telling of NASA's grave concern with the unusual increase in solar activity. Since I have not received an official response to my inquisition from NASA official's, let me just say there is quite a bit of "chatter" suggesting Earth could be at some risk. I would suggest it is our satellites which are at most risk.

The rumors suggest NASA has been handed a 'gage order' issued by DoD (department of defense). The reason for this order is directed at our spy satellites. It is suggested that 'in the name of national security' we cannot confirm or deny recent and current solar activity is at dangerous levels.

Over the past week a reported 65 C-Class flares, 16 M-Class flares, and 2 X-Class flares have occurred. Just the week prior, another 2 X-Class flares and 4 M-Class flares erupted. In addition to the solar flares, perhaps as many as 45 CME's (coronal mass ejections) emerged.

Another area of concern is our 'power grids'. If Earth experiences a direct hit from any one of these M-Class or X-Class flares, it could in fact cripple our infrastructure. There is good reason to be concerned over this issue. Some of you may remember what happened in 1989 when an X-Class flare ripped through our Magnetic Field knocking out power grids all across parts of the world.

One area which suffered a devastating hit was Quebec, Canada. Power grids where knocked out for almost two months. This had occurred during winter months and people literally had to set up emergency communities to survive. Those who had homes with "fireplaces" quickly filled to as many as 20 to 30 people per household. An area of over 7 million people was reduced to using fires as a method of warmth and to cook meals. When hearing testimonies of those who experienced this historical blackout of 1989, you can easily understand the desperation and struggle one had to endure. But there was also something magical which occurred. People described knowing their neighbor for the first time. Experiencing true togetherness, community, unity, and a sense of 'singleness of purpose'. Could this be a glance of what may lie ahead?

Today's sunspot count is at 168. I am a bit nervous of region 380. It is very large and is set dead center which could produce a direct hit to Earth. The odds of an X-Class or M-Class flare erupting from this region is 90%. I would suggest it is almost certain. The question is not if an eruption will occur, but in what direction. (see equation)

Watch for "freak storms" to continue. More than likely in the way of tornadoes or tonado-like winds. Sudden rain and hail storms are likely. Also watch for 'record breaking' temperatures.

Comment: Seems that Europe is experiencing a heat wave at the moment, Rome just had the highest temperatures since 1782, the north of France experienced 43 celsius (110 fahrenheit) here in the south we were sizzling at 37 celsius (100 fahrenheit). At the same time thunderstorms and large (ping pong ball sized) hail stones in the center of France..

July 4, 1998 F, Ark, Laura.

A: All areas experience accelerating "freak weather patterns."
Q: (L) Okay, all of these freaky weather patterns and bizarre things going on the planet, how does it relate to the comet cluster and the brown star? Is it related?
A: Human experiential cycle intersects.
Q: (L) Any specific physical manifestation of either this brown star or this comet cluster or this realm border, that is related to these events on the planet?
A: Approach of wave stimulates precursor activity which in turn causes effects which in turn stimulates further "heating up" of activity...

Solar activity peaks

Comment: Is something bothering the sun?

June 17, 2003

Comet Impacts on the Sun

Comment from a QFS member: Here's a site that has some SOHO images from 05-24/27-03 that capture a large cometary impact with our sun. Note the insuing CME activity. I'd wager that this is the event that is responsible for our global heatwave and turbulent solar surface. Mr. McCanney is a tireless self promoter and tends to refer alot to Planet X, but you gotta love that he captured these images before NASA scrubbed them from their site. The links to the clips are at the very bottom of this page.

This page (about 1/3 way down) has a great naked eye pic of comet neat, and what appears to be Cassiopia.

June 19, 2003


June 10, 2003

A run through the jungle is too easy; for the ultimate reality show contest, try a race through the Sun's atmosphere, where two comets recently lost their heads. The tails from a pair of comets survived a close encounter with the Sun, even after the Sun's intense heat and radiation vaporized their heads (nuclei and coma), an extremely rare event photographed by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft.

On May 24, 2003, a pair of comets arced in tandem towards the Sun, their paths taking them to just 0.1 solar radii above the Sun's surface, deep within the searing multimillion-degree solar atmosphere (corona).

They belong to the Kreutz family of sun-grazing comets, often seen by the SOHO spacecraft while diving towards their final rendezvous with the Sun. But as in humans, twins are rare. Even more so, this pair showed another very unusual trait: What looks like a faint tail (or "puff of smoke") can be seen moving away from the Sun, seemingly emanating from a point in the orbit beyond the comet's closest approach. Normally, sungrazers simply fade and disappear at an earlier stage, obliterated by the Sun's intense heat and radiation pressure. [...]

Comment: Nasa's website for the SOHO images seems to be missing large chunks of coverage on the Sun's activity and other bodies interacting with it. Nasa evidently has something to hide..

June 23, 2003

Fire threatens Arizona observatory

Sunday, 22 June, 2003, 16:30 GMT

Fire crews battling a wildfire that has destroyed more than 250 homes in Arizona are digging lines to protect remaining houses, broadcast towers and an important space observatory.

The Aspen fire, as it is called, has forced about 1,000 people to flee since it broke out on Tuesday.

On Saturday the fire - on Mount Lemmon - swept over a ridge of television and radio towers, fire officials said. Three broadcast transmission towers were lost.

Crews have been clearing the brush around the Mount Bigelow Observatory - which was used by the Nasa space agency to support its moon-landing Apollo programme.

Sprinklers have been set up around the facility to keep the nearby vegetation wet.

With high winds fanning the flames, firefighters have been looking for areas in the rugged terrain where they can create firebreaks to stop the spread of the blaze.

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano declared a state of emergency earlier this week because of the raging fire, which experts believe will take two or three weeks to contain.

At present the fire is racing through dry forests on rough terrain that is largely inaccessible to firefighting vehicles.

Comment from a QFS member: Another observatory threatened by fire. In January of this year the Australlian Mt. Stromlo Observatory burned, or rather melted, in what is described as a firestorm.

leads to an article which describes not only the damage but also the "strangeness" of what the fire did not destroy. A search shows quite a few "accidents" have taken place at observatories around the world including a large neutrino observatory in Japan.

The PTB will go to any length to distract or destroy.

From another QFS member:

Notice that it was participating in the "Catalina Sky Survey". The Mt Stromlo Observatory that burned down in mid-January was also doing a sky survey, having started it just a month before it burned down.

According to the Catalina Sky Survey site:

"The Catalina Sky Survey (CSS) is a program to discover comets and asteroids and to aid in the identification of potentially hazardous near-earth objects (NEOs). This is one of several surveys working to quantify the danger of future Earth impacts. Such discoveries add to the knowledge of the orbit and size distribution of minor planets and ultimately to a better understanding of their collisional history and origin."

The Astronomy Camp at Mt Bigelow, which previously "confirmed the discovery of a new comet" will have its schedule affected by the fire.

The primary adult teams won't start til later:

June 28-July 1 ---- Educators [25% full on April 24]

October 24-26 ----- Beginning Adult [25% full on April 24]

So if this fire does ruin the observatory, and it was intentional (but how could we ever know?), it would put a damper on the two programs most likely to "confirm the discovery of a new comet" or two or three or...

June 25, 2003

Space impact 'saved Christianity'

By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Did a meteor over central Italy in AD 312 change the course of Roman and Christian history?

A team of geologists believes it has found the incoming space rock's impact crater, and dating suggests its formation coincided with the celestial vision said to have converted a future Roman emperor to Christianity.

It was just before a decisive battle for control of Rome and the empire that Constantine saw a blazing light cross the sky and attributed his subsequent victory to divine help from a Christian God.

Constantine went on to consolidate his grip on power and ordered that persecution of Christians cease and their religion receive official status. [...]

June 26, 2003

Antenna Anomaly May Affect SOHO Scientific Data Transmission

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Date: 2003-06-25

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft expects to experience a blackout in the transmission of its scientific data this week. It is estimated the blackout may last two to three weeks.

Engineers are predicting this problem after detecting a malfunction in the pointing mechanism of the satellite's high-gain antenna (HGA), which is used to transmit the large amounts of data from SOHO's scientific observations to Earth.

[..] If the problem is not solved, the Earth will be left outside the HGA beam on a periodic basis, with similar blackouts occurring every three months. European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA engineers are assessing several options to recover the situation, or minimize the scientific data loss.

SOHO is a project of international cooperation between ESA and NASA to study the sun, from its deep core to the outer corona, and the solar wind. It was launched in December 1995 on an Atlas IIAS/Centaur rocket. Besides watching the sun, SOHO has become the most prolific discoverer of comets in astronomical history. As of May 2003, more than 620 comets have been found by SOHO.

July 5, 2003

"A Fiery Mass" fell from the sky 3/7/2003 11:45:00 pm

By T.I.

I couldn't find an English link for this, but it is all over the news here in Greece. [Editor: we just found one.]
A object of big mass, very probably a meteorite or some part of  a satellite, became visible from a lot of parts of Greece. According to testimonies of residents of western Greece near the Albanian border , the fiery object fell little before 23:00 pm near of Dolanis. The firefighters of Ioannina were called and sent 4 firefighting vehicles but, up to now, they have not located something, while there has been no fire. The same object was reported to the Albanian police.

Space center unveils telescope

Chabot's powerful new instrument available

By Laura Casey, STAFF WRITER

OAKLAND -- Chilly fog was not invited to the Wednesday evening celebration of the unveiling of Chabot Space and Science Center's new 36-inch telescope named Nellie, but it was there anyway.

The 100 or so Chabot supporters, including former City Councilman Dick Spees and telescope donors Merrill and Lillian Martin, celebrated the opening of the massive telescope to the public -- even though they could not see the stars. [...]

Chabot astronomers will hunt for star clusters and supernovas. Visitors and astronomers alike may discover new planets and moons, or help track comets while beaming images and information to the World Wide Web.

Nellie, named for the Martins' youngest daughter and Merrill Martin's grandmother, is one of the largest refractor telescopes in the United States. There are others, yet none are available to the public every weekend, as Nellie will be. [...]

Telescope to help map universe

Tue, Jul. 01, 2003
By Katy Daigle

ARECIBO, Puerto Rico - The world's most sensitive listening device is about to hear more from the universe.

The radio telescope at Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory, powerful enough to hear planets forming several billion light years away, is receiving six more radio receivers to expand its range, scientists said Monday.

Once the upgrade, nicknamed the ALFA Project, is completed next year, the observatory's staff of 15 scientists will take on the arduous task of mapping the night sky for future generations.

The map with its collection of detailed data about location, identity and properties of what is in space will go far beyond anything currently in use, researchers say.

No such map has been made until now because the scale was too big, said observatory director Daniel Altschuler. When finished it will be a "national treasure, a legacy, so to speak." [...]

With the $1 million upgrade, Arecibo should find thousands of new pulsars, supernova, black holes and planets, "and some of those are going to be very interesting." [...]

Alternate telescope site is considered

Wire Service, Associated Press
June 27, 2003

TUCSON (AP) - A group of scientists who want to install the world's largest gamma-ray telescope system say they may have an alternative to a proposed sight which has drawn the ire of American Indian and environmental groups. [...]

The project is known as VERITAS, for Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System, and is an effort of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and five American and three foreign universities.

It would build and install 34-foot mirrored telescopes to study high-energy gamma rays emitted by such things as exploding stars and black holes. Scientists first had wanted to install the cluster of seven telescopes on 10 acres in Montosa Canyon.

No decision on Mauna Kea telescope permit application

By TIFFANY EDWARDS/ West Hawaii Today

HILO - Nearly everyone contesting the University of Hawaii's permit application to build more telescopes atop Mauna Kea wants the permit denied.

However, the Hawaii Island Economic Development Board, through its attorney Michael Moore, concurred with the Hearings Officer Michael Gibson's recent recommendation to the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) board that UH's permit application be approved - with conditions.

HIEDB is among six groups and individuals who intervened after the UH Institute for Astronomy submitted to the DLNR board a conservation district use permit application to allow for the expansion of the W.M. Keck Observatory by four to six "outrigger" telescopes. [...]

Comet X-ray emissions simulated in laboratory

Posted: June 9, 2003

Physicists from the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have produced X-ray emissions in a laboratory setting by recreating the conditions that exist when solar winds collide with gases surrounding comets.

Using the electron beam ion trap facility located at Livermore Laboratory, physicists Peter Beiersdorfer, Hui Chen and Mark May created charge exchange between heavy ions to produce X-ray emissions, similar to what happens when solar wind and gases collide in a comet.

In collaboration with researchers from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Columbia University Department of Physics and the University of Missouri-Rolla Department of Physics, the team will present "Laboratory Simulation of Charge Exchange-Produced X-ray Emission From Comets" in the June 6 edition of Science. [...]

Beiersdorfer said that cometary X-rays can serve as a diagnostic for solar activity and hence "space weather" by measuring the quantity and composition of the heavy ion flux in solar wind. In addition, recent work has shown that emissions can be a potential tool to gauge the speed of the solar wind. [...]

July 6, 2003

Harpooning a Comet


Europe is set to try to do something no-one has ever done before - to chase and land on a comet. The Lander science will focus on the in situ study of the composition and structure of the nucleus material.

Comet-chasing mission Rosetta has refocused its sights on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. During its meeting on May 13-14th 2003, ESA's Science Program Committee decided Rosetta's new mission baseline.

The spacecraft will be launched in February 2004 from Kourou, French Guiana, using an Ariane-5 G+ launcher. The rendezvous with the new target comet is expected in November 2014.

Delayed indefinitely earlier this year to troubleshoot launch issues, ESA's Rosetta lander, is now back on track to be the first man-made object to land on a comet. [...]

On Jan. 2, 2004, another NASA spacecraft called Stardust will fly within 75 miles of a cometary main body (called Wild-2)--close enough to trap small particles from the coma, the gas-and-dust envelope surrounding the comet's nucleus. Stardust will be traveling at about 13,400 miles per hour (mph) and will capture comet particles traveling at the speed of a bullet fired from a rifle. Its main camera, built for NASA's Voyager program, will transmit the closest-ever comet pictures back to Earth. Launched in February 1999, Stardust was designed to capture particles from Wild 2 and return them to Earth for analysis. The spacecraft already has collected grains of interstellar dust. It is the first U.S. sample-return mission since the last moon landing in 1972.

In the next 5 or so years, there will be several encounters of spacecraft with comets and asteroids. All the following missions are funded, though not all have been launched yet.

The Great Impact Debate

Part I: The Benefits of Hard Bodies

Astrobiology Magazine

[...]Benny Peiser: I find it very difficult to see any positive traits in comets or asteroids. From a psychological perspective, it is understandable that we try to put a positive spin on the ultimate threat NEOs pose to human survival. In the 17th century, Isaac Newton was the first to suggest that cometary impacts were essential for the preservation of the world since they "refurbished" and "replenished" the planets, the sun, and the stars .

While the general public at the time regarded comets as harbingers of doom and disaster, Newton claimed they were "absolutely necessary for the watering of the Earth, and the production and nourishment of vegetables." So much for wishful thinking.

As we have discovered during the last 50 years, the sad truth is that asteroids and comets have been the foremost agents of environmental annihilation and the key obstacles to the evolution of life. Life has taken root on Earth not because of cometary deliveries of organic material and volatiles but in spite of extensive NEO bombardment. We only need to look at the other pockmarked planets of our solar system to recognize that impacts essentially extinguish the chances for the evolution of life.

Complex forms of life have survived on Earth because we seem to be uniquely situated in a habitable niche that comprises relatively decent protection from colossal, life-exterminating impacts. We should bear in mind that 99.9% of all species that ever dwelled on Earth were wiped out, most likely, as a result of large impacts.

As long as we remain incompetent to take full control over these destructive forces, any over-optimistic undertone regarding asteroids and comets seems untimely to me. We need to get our priorities right first.

The anticipated opportunities for science to take advantage of and exploit NEOs for space exploration remains an ambition for the distant future. In order to bring this long-term goal to fruition, we need to learn how to reshuffle the cosmic game of dice to our advantage. [...]

Space objects a threat

County astronomy group gets grant from NASA to study them

By Kaija-Leena Romero
The Californian

Massive tsunamis, miles of raging forest fires, a stratosphere clogged with enough debris to obscure the sun -- even a relatively small asteroid striking Earth would wreak enough havoc to end civilization.

"It's not whether it's going to happen," said Bruce Weaver, director of Monterey Institute for Research in Astronomy (MIRA). "The question is how long it will be (until one hits)." [...]

Meteor Astronomers: Looking Down Into Earth

based on Rice University report

Using fossil meteorites and ancient limestone unearthed throughout southern Sweden, marine geologists at Rice University have discovered that a colossal collision in the asteroid belt some 500 million years ago led to intense meteorite strikes over the Earth's surface.[...]

July 7, 2003

Delta Aquarid meteor shower a must-see

The northern and southern Delta Aquarid meteor shower is active between July 15 and Aug. 19, with the peak of activity occurring on July 28.

Fortunately for meteor observers, the moon will be new on July 28, resulting in dark skies that allow the viewing of fainter meteors. The Delta Aquarid shower radiates from the constellation Aquarius, the direction in the sky where the meteors appear to come from. It is interesting to note that the planet Mars also lies in the constellation Aquarius, near this radiant point in the sky.

You should be able to see around 20 meteors per hour after your eyes adjust to the dark on July 28, although historical records show that from 2 to 60 meteors per hour have been observed in the past. Pick a comfortable place under as much open sky as you can so when Mars begins to rise in the east at around 11:30 p.m. you will be ready to watch the meteor shower as they race across the sky at 91,000 miles per hour.

July 10, 2003

Shadow of extinction

It is old news, 251-million years old, but the story of what happened then, now told for the first time, demands our urgent attention.

Its implications are more profound than anything taking place in Washington or Iraq. Prehistory may soon repeat itself, not as tragedy, but as catastrophe, unless we understand what happened and act upon that intelligence.

The events that brought the Permian period between 286-million and 251-million years ago to an end could not be clearly determined until the mapping of key geological sequences had been completed.

Until recently palaeontologists had assumed that the changes that took place then were gradual and piecemeal. But three years ago a precise date for the end of the period was established, which enabled geologists to draw direct comparisons between the rocks laid down at that time in different parts of the world...

The Permian was one of the most biologically diverse periods in Earth's history. Herbivorous reptiles the size of rhinos were hunted through forests of tree ferns and flowering trees by sabre-toothed predators. At sea massive coral reefs accumulated, among which lived great sharks, fish of all kinds and hundreds of species of shelly creatures.

Then, suddenly, there is almost nothing.

The fossil record nearly stops dead...

Comment: Is it just us, or is there more and more of this type of article in the mainstream press? Seems we are being prepared for something...and it isn't likely to be pleasant.

Although this article offers an alternative explanation for this catastrophe being caused by a meteorite, the volcanic activity described can be caused by a near-pass of a comet.

There is no need for a comet to actually hit the earth for there to be catastrophic effects. Because of the nickel in the comet core, there can be electrical currents that pass betwen the two bodies. Laura's article, Independence Day, takes a look at the cometary threat.

July 11, 2003

Meteors seen over SLO County

Ryan Huff
The San Luis Obispo Tribune
Thursday, July 10, 2003

Several San Luis Obispo County residents said they saw flaming objects in the sky late Wednesday, as the Federal Emergency Management Agency reported that four meteor showers fell over California.

Multiple callers and a few deputies saw a bright object falling through the sky around 10 p.m., said Sheriff's Sgt. Tony Perry.

The California Office of Emergency Services received reports from nearly every county in the state. But no one, as of 11 p.m., reported that any meteors landed, according to an agency spokesman.

Perry said the Sheriff's Department received an unconfirmed report of a fallen object in Pozo.

Meanwhile, a Cambria resident told The Tribune that an object she believed fell in her area was so bright it lit up her house through pulled drapes. She first thought a plane had crashed, she said.

No more information was available at as of 11 p.m.

Dear Congress: Look out above!

Open letter highlights threat from near-Earth objects

By Leonard David

July 10 —  A distinguished group of Americans joined together to send a unique request to congressional leaders Wednesday — a request that preparations be made to deal with the prospect of Earth being slammed by an asteroid or comet.

IN AN "OPEN Letter to Congress on Near Earth Objects," the communication underscores the danger our planet faces from near-Earth objects, also termed NEOs.

The letter has been sent to President Bush and his cabinet, the secretary-general of the United Nations and to leaders around the globe.

Included among those who urged action on the NEO issue were Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt; Neil Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium; Freeman Dyson, professor emeritus of Princeton University; Lucy Ann McFadden, NEO scientist at the University of Maryland; New York University professor and author William Burrows; John Lewis, a scientist at the University of Arizona; and Thomas Jones, former astronaut and veteran of four shuttle missions.

"We write to you today as concerned citizens, convinced that the time has come for our nation to address comprehensively the impact threat from asteroids and comets," the letter begins.

The overall aim of the open letter is start a process to educate national leadership about the real threat posed by worrisome comets and asteroids that can approach Earth:

"A growing body of scientific evidence shows that some of these celestial bodies, also known as Near Earth Objects (NEOs), pose a potentially devastating threat of collision with Earth, capable of causing widespread destruction and loss of life. The largest such impacts can not only threaten the survival of our nation, but even that of civilization itself."

The letter urges U.S. lawmakers to take three steps, thereby shaping a coordinated program to deal with the impact threat:

Step 1: NEO Detection — Expand and enhance this nation’s capability to detect and to determine the orbits and physical characteristics of NEOs.

Step 2: NEO Exploration — Expand robotic exploration of asteroids and Earth-approaching comets and direct that U.S. astronauts again leave low-Earth orbit, this time to further explore certain NEOs in deep space for information required to develop an effective capability to deflect a NEO, should we learn that one threatens life on Earth.

Step 3: NEO Contingency Planning — Initiate comprehensive contingency planning for deflecting any NEO found to pose a potential threat to Earth. In parallel, plan to meet the disaster relief needs created by an impending or actual NEO impact. U.S. government/private sector planning should invite international cooperation in addressing the problems of NEO detection, potential hazards and actual impacts. This step also advocates establishment of an Interagency NEO Task Force to address the NEO Impact Threat. This task force should be composed of senior representatives from appropriate government agencies.

Resources committed to the NEO work have been very modest, an enclosure to the open letter declares, "and not commensurate with the potential threat." What is warranted is additional investment in search programs, deemed by the letter’s supporters as both "appropriate and prudent."

A dramatic improvement in the rate at which asteroids and comets are discovered would likely result if the United States were to increase the current level of funding, now at about $3.5 million per year, to at least $20 million annually, the letter’s enclosure explains.

The open letter concludes: "For the first time in human history, we have the potential to protect ourselves from a catastrophe of truly cosmic proportions.

 "We cannot rely on statistics alone to protect us from catastrophe; such a strategy is like refusing to buy fire insurance because blazes are infrequent. Our country simply cannot afford to wait for the first modern occurrence of a devastating NEO impact before taking steps to adequately address this threat." [...]

To read the open letter in its entirety, visit www.CongressNEOaction.org .

Mysterious bright flash seen here

Citizen Staff Report
July 10, 2003

A bright flash in Tucson's eastern sky last night left authorities puzzled.

A few callers reported the flash about 8:45 p.m. to the Pima County Sheriff's Department, a dispatcher said.

Sheriff's deputies and the Tucson Airport Authority were unaware of the source.

A 250-mile range radar at the National Weather Service's Tucson office showed nothing unusual, senior forecaster Brian Francis said.

The Sheriff's Department received several calls, a dispatcher said.

July 12, 2003

News photographer nabs rare shot of meteor on video

By Louis Galvan
The Fresno Bee

No, it wasn't a bottle rocket left over from the Fourth of July. And, nope, no matter what your know-it-all brother-in-law said, it wasn't an alien spaceship, doomed as it entered the Earth's atmosphere.

"It was a meteor," said Dr. Fred Ringwald, a department of physics professor at California State University, Fresno, after reviewing a videotape of a streaking bright light that shot across the sky about 10 p.m. Wednesday.

"It was a rock from space, probably traveling about 100,000 miles an hour when it hit the Earth's atmosphere and started to burn," he said. [...]

SOHO Nabs its 500th Comet

by Vanessa Thomas

The most accomplished comet -catcher reached a milestone this week. On August 12, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) spacecraft imaged a comet swinging around the sun. Now called C/2002 P3 (SOHO), the comet is the 500th discovered in images from the spacecraft.

SOHO wasn't originally designed to discover comets, but to monitor and study solar activity. Discovering comets was an unexpected talent. With an instrument called LASCO (the Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph ), SOHO uses a circular mask to block out most of the sun's light in order to observe the solar corona and the space near the sun. When sungrazing comets reach perihelion , they're lost in the sun's glare for observers on Earth, but come into view for LASCO.

Catching a comet's tail in the Earth's upper atmosphere


For more than 20 years, NASA has flown high-altitude research aircraft to collect cosmic dust -- debris of comets and asteroids that fills the inner solar system. In late April though, they made the first attempt to collect dust particles from a very specific target -- comet Grigg-Skjellerup. [...]

A Turkish UFO site is claiming, in all caps:


From the same site, and of some interest: THE CIA OFFICIALLY REQUESTED INFORMATION ON THE LATEST UFO INCIDENTS IN TURKEY FROM MIT (TURKISH INTELLIGENCE AGENCY ). They show photos of the actual newspaper article.

July 13, 2003

World's leading stargazers gather in Sydney

Two thousand of the world's leading astronomers are in Sydney in New South Wales for the general assembly of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), which starts today.

The IAU is currently headed by Australian Professor Ron Akers and this week's gathering of 2,000 astronomers represents a quarter of the world's best stargazers.

In a gathering that runs almost a fortnight, they will examine the latest evidence on recent water and volcanic activity on Mars.

Talk will also turn to the study of comets and asteroids which might one day threaten earth, a threat that prompted formation of the International Spaceguard Foundation.

Astronomers will also boldly talk of where no person has gone before - outside our solar system to the 110 extra solar planets discovered so far - a number being added to almost monthly.

July 15, 2003

The Aspen Fire: An amateur perspective

A raging fire in southern Arizona has affected amateur as well as professional astronomy.

by Michael E. Bakich

For much of the past month, fire has threatened multiple observing sites located in the Santa Catalina Mountains north of Tucson, Arizona. Tim Hunter, a local amateur astronomer and owner of 3towers Observatory stated, "Arizona amateur astronomers were quite worried the fires would harm the observatories on Mount Lemmon and Mount Bigelow. We have a tightly-knit community. Whether professional or amateur, we all love astronomy ."

Regarding amateur astronomy during the fires, Hunter said that the smoke and haze did overlie the city at various times, making it somewhat uncomfortable to be outside and making it all but impossible to observe, particularly for those who are on the east side of town nearest the fire.

"My good friend, amateur astronomer James McGaha, had to shut down his very active asteroid observing program for several days," Hunter explained. "He could easily see the fires in the canyons near him and the smoke was at times almost overwhelming."

July 16, 2003

Asteroid Hunters Discover Near-Earth Object With New Camera

PASADENA, Calif., July 15 (AScribe Newswire) -- NASA astronomers in pursuit of near-Earth asteroids have already made a discovery with the newly installed Quasar Equatorial Survey, or 'Quest,' camera mounted in mid-April on Palomar Mountain's 1.2-meter (48-inch) Oschin telescope.

"The Quest camera is still undergoing commissioning trials," said Dr. Steven Pravdo, project manager for the Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking Project at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "But that doesn't mean we can't do some real science in the meantime. What we found was a near-Earth asteroid, estimated to be about 250 meters (820 feet) in size."

The detection of the near-Earth object, 2003 NL7, occurred on the evening of July 8. It has been confirmed by follow-up measurements from three other observatories and subsequently certified by the official clearinghouse of the solar system's smaller inhabitants, the Minor Planet Center. While 2003 NL7 has been labeled a near- Earth asteroid, it is considered non-hazardous, with a 2.97-year orbit of the Sun in which its closest approach to Earth's orbit is about 25.1 million kilometers (15.6 million miles). [...]

Rocks in Elma, Washington may be remains of a meteor

The smoke also created a large cloud that seemed to gather water vapor, increasing the cloud and haze effects. [...]

Meteor In Northern B.C.'s Sky !

Comment: This article was posted in January 18th, 2000, but we are recommending it for the good research and the animated gif toward the bottom. In case anyone happens to see something similar in the sky, they will have an idea of what is going on. The article is brought to us from From Brian Vike Director, HBCC UFO Research, who wrote the article we posted on yesterday's signs page Daylight UFO Photos. Don't miss Brian's other article on Rense (with photo), Black Helicopter & Unknown Object.



July 17, 2003

Bush lies and lies and lies

and the mass murder media is full of details, regaling us with the he-said she-said, pass the blame around until most people give up trying to keep track who faked what game. The Washington Post tells us that the Flap Over Iraq Charge Shows Bush Vulnerability , "With surprising swiftness, an esoteric debate over 16 words in this year's State of the Union address has changed the national political scene in recent days."

"And, for the first time a senior Republican has hinted that blame for the matter might extend beyond Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet," as a Senate panel probes possible White House blame. America's "public servants" dance around while, Whole Units Of US Soldiers In Iraq are On Suicide Watch.

How about adding to the confusion by implicating Italy as the source of those uranium documents, and the fact that Niger is upset by uranium slur.

Blair Visits Bush with Clouds Over Iraq Victory, and plans to address Congress and we are told that, "behind the scenes there are likely to be some tensions." Whatever. No mention of the tensions of the U.S. troops as the, new commander of coalition troops in Iraq declared yesterday that America was "still at war" and that it was facing classic guerrilla tactics, and some troops should expect a year in Iraq. Meanwhile raping, pillaging, looting, pot shots, infected water, malnutrition, electrical blackouts, killer heat, and a general stench of death are Bush's idea of freedom, and what U.S. troops are sent in to defend.

ABC news (owned by Disney) reports A Big Letdown: Soldiers Learn They’ll Be in Baghdad Longer Than Expected and quotes Spc. Clinton Deitz saying "If Donald Rumsfeld was here," he said, "I'd ask him for his resignation, " and the articles continues with, "Those are strong words from troops used to following orders." (Check out Salon's report on Rumsfeld's personal spy ring that was used to provide a pretext for war in Iraq. Requires registration for the day if not already a subscriber.)

But Wait! Just in time! Pentagon Bombshell: U.S. Uncovers WMD Document 'Mother Lode' A veritable "treasure trove" we are told of oh so scary documents. Are we supposed to believe this stuff?

Meanwhile, Everyone is so jittery these days that Goat cheese is all it takes to cause security trouble.

A few days ago we posted a link to Greg Palast's new BBC Video. We recommend downloading, burning it on a cd and passing it on to family members who still believe that Bush was elected, and that the Iraq invasion was about 9/11. Heck, it's got an ex-fighter pilot breaking down in tears over Bush's lies.

The documentary leaves the door wide open about Bush's involvement in the 9/11 affair. Is it a warning to the Bush family to toe the line? Perhaps the pedophile cover-up in Britain was also a warning to Blair to toe the line. Just who is pulling the strings here? Why is the Zionist owned media suddenly jumping on Bush? What are we all not supposed to see while this soap opera is being played in front of us night and day? We will continue to probe for the answers and assemble the clues here at The Signs of the Times.

During all this high drama, the media has bothered themselves to make the curious announcement that Asteroid hazards have been revised:

Large meteorites are more likely to break up in the atmosphere before they hit the Earth than was previously thought. [N]ew estimates reduce the likely frequency of potentially catastrophic impacts of large meteorites at the Earth's surface by about a factor of 50, relative to previous forecasts...

We feel safer already.

Small Stony Asteroids Will Explode and Not Hit Earth

When asteroids fall through Earth's atmosphere, a variety of things can happen. Large iron-heavy space rocks are almost sure to slam into the planet. Their stony cousins, however, can't take the pressure and are more likely to explode above the surface.

Either outcome can be dismal. But the consequences vary.

So scientists who study the potential threat of asteroids would like to know more about which types and sizes of asteroids break apart and which hold together. [...]

Chances of asteroid hitting earth 'get slimmer'

The chances of a "small" asteroid the width of two football pitches hitting the Earth are slimmer than previously thought.

Computer simulations indicate asteroids about 220 metres across are likely to smash into the Earth once in every 170,000 years. [...]

Dr Phil Bland, from Imperial College London, who took part in the study reported in the journal Nature, said: "Massive impacts of the type thought to have wiped out the dinosaurs leave an indelible print on the Earth, but we have not been able to accurately document the effect of smaller impacts. [...]

"Now, we have a handle on the size of 'rock' we really need to worry about and how well the Earth's atmosphere protects us."

Fresh, rayed impact crater seen on Mars


This Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) image shows a fresh, young meteor impact crater on the martian surface. It is less than 400 meters (less than 400 yards) across. While there is no way to know the exact age of this or any other martian surface feature, the rays are very well preserved.

On a planet where wind can modify surface features at the present time, a crater with rayed ejecta patterns must be very young indeed. Despite its apparent youth, the crater could still be many hundreds of thousands, if not several million, of years old. [...]

Smoking supernovae solve ten billion year old mystery

Posted: July 16, 2003

A team of UK astronomers have announced the discovery that some supernovae have bad habits -- they belch out huge quantities of 'smoke' known as cosmic dust. This solves a mystery more than 10 billion years in the making. The new observations, published on 17th July in the journal 'Nature', answer long-standing questions about the origin of the first solid particles ever to form in the Universe.

The team measured the cold cosmic dust in 'Cassiopeia A', the remnant of a supernova explosion in our own Galaxy, about 11,000 light years from Earth. The amount of dust was a thousand times what had been previously detected, suggesting that these powerful explosions are one of the most efficient ways to create cosmic dust. This also answers the riddle of how large quantities of dust recently discovered in the early universe were formed.

Unlike household dust, cosmic 'dust' actually consists of tiny solid grains (mostly carbon and silicates) floating around in interstellar space, with similar sizes to the particles in cigarette smoke. The presence of dust grains around young stars helps them to form and they are also the building blocks of planets. [...]

July 18, 2003

Earth's birth date turned back:

Formed earlier than believed

By William J. Cromie
Gazette Staff

Our planet is 50 to 90 million years older than previously thought, according to new evidence found in meteorites. [...]

July 19, 2003

Meteor reported over northern Minnesota

Allen Powell II, Star Tribune
Published July 18, 2003

Several residents in northern St. Louis County reported seeing a large, fiery object streak across the sky Thursday, accompanied by a loud boom, the Sheriff's Office said. The office ruled out the possibility of a plane crash and said the object most likely was a meteor.

July 20, 2003

Meteors and Meteor Showers: How They Work

[...] When a comet nears the sun, a trail of dust and other debris burns off and remains in solar orbit. As Earth orbits the sun, it passes through this debris field spread across its path. Small bits burn up in the atmosphere, creating meteors. Meteors come from other sources, too, but comet debris streams are the source of sometimes dramatic meteor showers.

When to watch

The part of Earth where dawn is breaking is always at the leading edge of our planet's plunge along its orbital path around the Sun. This part of the planet tends to "catch" oncoming meteors left by a comet, whereas the other side of Earth, where it is dusk or late evening, outruns the debris. For that reason, the hours between midnight and dawn are typically the best time to watch a meteor shower.

Significant meteor showers are announced on Spacewatch.

July 22, 2003

Search for Large Asteroids Nears Completion, Experts Ponder Gaps in Program

By Michael Paine
Special to SPACE.com
21 July 2003

SYDNEY, Australia -- A stated goal of finding 90 percent of all large Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) by 2008 is more or less on target, leading experts said last week at the General Assembly of the International Astronomy Union (IAU) in Sydney, Australia.

The goal, originally outlined by NASA and mandated by the U.S. Congress, is designed to insure that space rocks in the vicinity of Earth's orbit, and larger than 1 kilometer (0.62 miles), are found and tracked. An object of this size could cause global destruction if one were to hit Earth.

An international affiliation of groups, collectively called Spaceguard , carries out the search and follow-up observations needed to purse the targets. NASA funds much of the work. [...]

Keeper of the Objects

With a shoestring budget, asteroid and comet watcher Brian Marsden looks out for Armageddon from the skies--and not without controversy

By Steve Nadis

On national security: "There's a lot of concern about security these days, but does it go beyond terrorism and extend to outer space?"

On the power of fear: "I think a good scare is occasionally helpful."

Of 42 near-Earth asteroids with nonzero impact risk, only one object, 1997 XR2, warrants careful monitoring. See http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/risk/

Every day our neighborhood appears a bit more crowded--and dangerous. The band between Earth and Mars hosts swarms of swift-moving asteroids, some of which might eventually threaten our planet. The inner solar system is home to an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 asteroids a kilometer or greater in width, with perhaps a million rocks 50 meters and larger. Asteroid observations pour in at the rate of 15,000 or more a day. [...]

July 23, 2003

There is evidence that the famous Chicago Fire, on October 8, 1871 was caused by a gigantic fireball or meteor and not a cow. Thousands of people died in Illinois and Wisconsin from the fires.

That same evening and that same hour about 12 other separate fires hit four states. That night the town of Pestigo with 1700 residents was wiped out by fire. The loss of life and property in the Chicago fire seemed dim as this town was destroyed. 1200 people died between 7 and 8 p.m. as a fire blast swept through the town knocking them off there feet. At the time of these fires astronomers watching the fading comet Biala, whose orbit was close to earth. Also meteorite activity was viewed before the fires began. 

Also see: New Evidence: So how do we know that Comet Biela was destroyed by collisions with asteroids? And how does this shed new light on the Great Fires mystery (of 1871)

Second flaming ball spotted in northern Greece ‘likely a meteor’

A large flaming ball seen flying through the sky by residents in Halkidiki, Drama and Serres on Sunday night was probably a meteorite, experts said yesterday. Many witnesses, who reported the sighting to local police, said they saw the object fall into the sea. Earlier this month a similar “fireball” had been reported by residents of Elefsina, Kavala, Corfu and Ioannina. There were claims it had fallen to earth in the northwestern region of Zagori, near Ioannina, but fire service workers failed to find any evidence of a fire or debris.

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