Posted on SOTT 6 Sept 2006
Strange "Fire Balls" seen in ND skies
Sep 4 2006 11:18PM
If you were looking up in the sky tonight, you couldn't miss them.
Three large balls of fire.
So what were they?
According to a Bismarck man, they were mostly likely three parts of the same meteor.
Here's what one of them looked like... a lot like a comet.
But William Pearce, who holds his PHD in Astronomy and teaches at Bismarck State College says this was probably just one peice of three from the same meteor.
It's not every day you see meteors falling from the sky.
But Pearce says most of the time, they break up as they're falling into the atmosphere.
No worries according to Pearce.
Once they are in the atmosphere, they fall very quickly.
The fireballs seen about 8:30 this evening are already on the ground.
Pearce says it's even possible the peices burnt up before ever reaching the ground.
Rajasthan scientists excited about rare meteor
Tuesday, September 5, 2006 (Jaipur)
At the Geological Survey Institute in Rajasthan, scientists are excited about a six kg meteor that landed near two shepherds in a small village in Chittorgarh district on August 29.
Each year, about 500 meteors reach the earth, but only five or six of these actually reach the hands of scientists for scientific studies.
Usually meteors that land on the surface of the earth are stony meteors. It's only in 8 per cent of the cases that scientists find a meteor made up of iron and nickel like this one.
"The meteor is exciting because of its rarity. If I go to sell it in the international market, I will get $1 billion. This is rarer than gold and diamonds," said Dinkar Srivastava, Director Petrology Department, Geological Survey of India.
Scientists are especially interested in the study of meteors because they are made up of matter that originally went into the making of our solar system 4.5 billion years ago.
This particular meteor is believed to have broken away from the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.
"From this, we can study the minerals that went into the making of our solar system. From where this meteor has come, man cannot even dream of reaching there," said Dr R S Goyal, Director, Geological Survey of India.
The Geological Survey of India is now contacting international institutes so that space scientists from all over the world can study the meteor, which perhaps carries with it many secrets of our solar system.
Posted on SOTT
12 Sept 2006
Huge New Zealand explosion likely caused by meteor
12 September 2006
A meteorite is believed to have burned up over Canterbury today before slamming into the ground in a field.
A loud boom heard throughout the region was most likely to be from a meteorite, up to the size of a medicine ball, Stardome Observatory in Auckland says.
The loud boom was heard over Canterbury, with sightings as far afield as Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury, and Hinds in Mid-Canterbury.
Observatory spokesman Andrew Buckingham told NZPA: "We're still finding out what's going on".
Initial reports had come through the police communications system, with follow ups from eyewitness accounts.
"It sounds like a large meteor coming down... soccer ball size upwards," Mr Buckingham said.
It was more likely to be one large rock entering the earth's atmosphere as a fireball, rather than a meteor shower.
The boom was either the meteor breaking the sound barrier or exploding as it burned up.
Stardome Observatory in Auckland's spokesman Andrew Buckingham said it was not a particularly unusual event.
New Zealand had one or two fireballs a year.
This one had been "at a time and place where people have seen it".
It sounded very similar to a bright fireball seen in Taranaki on July 7, 1999, he said.
Stardome wanted to see camera or film footage of the fireball, he said.
Emergency services were inundated with calls from the public about the noise, with initial reports suggesting a meteor strike.
A Christchurch Fire Communications spokesman said the first calls from the public started at 2.53pm today, with people reporting windows rattling and the air "shaking".
There was speculation a "sonic boom" had been caused by space debris, he said.
Several people reported seeing a glowing red ball streaking over the Canterbury sky.
"Whilst sunning myself in Ilam, I saw a bright meteorite fly high over one of the buildings with a yellow tinge. It continued for about five seconds before breaking off into two smaller pieces and disapearing. Seconds later a loud rumble permeated the air, which startled me," said Georgia Weaver from the University of Canterbury.
The meteor has shown up on the McQueen's Valley seismograph.
A GNS Science spokeswoman said they were aware of the incident.
"Something has hit the ground hard, it's not an earthquake," she said.
An Air Force spokesman told NZPA none of their aircraft were responsible - none of the current fleet went fast enough to create a sonic boom.
The Christchurch airport had reported they had no planes that were capable of making such a noise.
Kevin Graham, garage workshop owner in Rolleston - 22km southwest of Christchurch - told NZPA when he heard the boom his first thought was it was a September 11 anniversary attack.
"I don't frighten very easily, but I was just about sh**ing myself."
Mr Graham said he was inside his workshop at the time the boom hit.
"I've been talking to my wife at Addington and she had run outside because she thought the stand was going to collapse. And I ran outside because I thought my place was going to collapse as well."
Mr Graham said he could feel the shock waves in the air so thought it was close, but a truck driver had reported to a local rep he had seen a meteorite fall from the sky into a field in Hinds, 19km southwest of Ashburton.
He said the sound was like a CNG tank exploding.
"It started off with a little boom then a real massive boom. And I mean massive - like the daddy of all booms."
The noise was so loud it shook the garage, he said. "I was wondering what happened and I thought 'Oh, September 12', because we're a day ahead of the States.
"As you do, because everyone is talking about it at the moment."
Hanmer Springs police officer Senior Constable Chris Hughey likened a meteor shooting across the skies over Canterbury today to Haley's Comet which he saw when it last passed near Earth in 1986.
Mr Hughey said he saw the meteor to the south of the North Canterbury resort town just before 3pm and it appeared to be coming in on a 30deg angle travelling west to east.
"All it looked like was a vapour trail from a plane coming in at huge altitude," he said.
"It was a crystal clear day here in Hanmer and it appeared to have a red ball or something at the front. Then it split into about three and just disappeared."
Mr Hughey said he did not hear the loud sonic boom that was heard in Christchurch and elsewhere.
"We didn't have the explosion. It wasn't that overly startling from here, but it was something I've never seen before."
Mr Hughey said he'd seen a few small meteors "coming in here and there" over the years but nothing like today's one. . ."never coming in on that angle.
"I've seen them going horizontally across the sky.
"I've never seen one coming virtually straight down like that.
"It just disintegrated at great altitude. It was moving, too. I don't know what speed they come in at, but it was going."
Mr Hughey said the show lasted no more than a few seconds.
"I called a radio station and told them to expect a few calls," he said. "I don't think they believed me."
The Press and NZPA
Mysterious light streaks across Washington sky
By JIM FORMAN
KING 5 News
Monday, September 11, 2006
SEATTLE - Around 7:30 p.m. Monday, KING 5 News' phones started to ring as viewers reported seeing a ball of flames shooting across the skies of Western Washington.
The calls came in mostly from Pierce and Kitsap counties.
Michael Witig and his wife were out barbecuing when they saw something streaking through the sky. They kept rolling as the fiery tail grew behind the mystery object.
KING 5 News contacted the Air Force, FAA, National Weather Service and other local authorities, but could not immediately find an explanation for what streaked across the sky and what was caught on tape.
Posted on SOTT
13 Sept 2006
Pilot describes space object flashing in front of cockpit
UPDATED 4.15pm Wednesday September 13, 2006
By Belinda McCammon
A commercial airline pilot believes space debris flashed across southern skies in front of his cockpit as he flew over North Canterbury yesterday.
The pilot -- who did not want his airline or name published -- said an object similar to a meteor -- "but different" -- flashed in front of his cockpit over Hanmer about 3pm yesterday.
The pilot said he did not believe it was a meteor because it was spinning and had reminded him of the debris from the United States space shuttle Columbia when it had exploded.
The first officer also witnessed the object but the pilot doubted any passengers would have seen it because it passed directly in front of the plane.
"First time I have ever seen anything like that during the day," he said.
The object was gone within seconds and it was impossible to judge how far away from the plane it had been, or the length of the object.
"It just had a very bright light and a smoke trail."
The pilot told air traffic control what he saw.
He said they were over North Canterbury at the time, at about 20,000 feet, in descent.
He believed if the debris survived it would have landed in that region.
The pilot said he had also spoken to the National Radiation Laboratory in Christchurch, who had expressed concern to him about possible radiation from the object.
Scientists today determined that an object thought to be a fragment of a meteor -- handed to police last night by a property owner who found it in a paddock at Dunsandel, 40km south of Christchurch -- was not radioactive.
The object was analysed this morning by scientists .
Laboratory group manager Jim Turnbull said today there were initial concerns the 10cm long, 5cm wide rock-like object might have been nuclear fuel from a small generator in a satellite.
"We can discount that," he said. - NZPA
Posted on SOTT
14 Sept 2006
Fire in the Mid Canterbury skies
By Sue Newman
Thursday, 14 September 2006
School children saw it, businessmen saw it and little old ladies in their gardens saw it.
The meteor that blazed its way across Ashburton skies yesterday caught many by surprise and, so quick was its passage, most doubted what they had seen.
That doubt remained until reports of the fiery, moving light began to flood into newsrooms around the South Island.
Ashburton was spared the sonic boom that was heard in greater Christchurch as the fireball plunged through the earth's atmosphere, but our skies appear to have been the playground in which the meteor flared its last.
Sightings have been reported to the Guardian from around the district and to a person, the meteor spotters are consistent in their recollection of the form the fireball took.
The sightings were all made just before 3pm.
Alford Forest man Nigel Birt said the object was 'big, bright and iridescent".
"It was streaking through the sky. It didn't have any real shape but had a tail flaring off the back. Two bits broke off and it just burned up and disappeared," he said.
The meteor was visible for just a few seconds and when it disappeared was heading in a north, north-east direction, Mr Birt said.
Just a few kilometres away at the Mayfield Golf Course, Paul Gardner saw a fiery object appear overhead. He shook his head and wondered if he was seeing things.
"It took about three seconds to cross the sky and was like a ball of orangey-blue fire with a tail."
Given the direction it was moving in and its speed of travel, Mr Gardner said it appeared to be heading towards Oxford.
He has absolutely no doubt that what he saw was a meteor.
"I knew as soon as I saw it that it wasn't a plane. I watched it and it just disappeared, it died. If this thing had been at night, it would have been incredible, spectacular," he said.
Real estate salesman Tony Sands was driving along Chalmers Avenue, his mind on an appointment with a Bridge Street home owner, when a bright light appeared in front of his car.
"It was about five to three and I saw this flash of light towards the top of my windscreen. It was there one minute and gone the next. It was travelling too fast to be a plane and was a yellowy, white light."
The object was moving towards Christchurch
"It was travelling inland at speed and it was very unusual because it wasn't high in the sky, I didn't have to crane my neck to see it through the windscreen," Mr Sands said.
The bright, travelling light had no apparent body shape and it flared at the back like a jet.
"I've never seen anything move so fast," he said.
And just down the road at the Ashburton Airfield, pilot Robin Corbett was out on the runway when he spotted the meteor.
"It was an awesome sight. I saw its full splurge of fire, but I didn't hear any sound. It was a broad band of light and as it got closer to the horizon it faded off and a few bits seemed to split away. It was an impressive sight," Mr Corbett said.
Like others who reported sightings of the meteor, Mr Corbett said the object was low in the sky and was heading in the direction of Hanmer.
September 13 2006
Posted on SOTT
20 Sept 2006
New Evidence Links Stellar Remains To Oldest Recorded Supernova
by Staff Writers
Cambridge MA (SPX) Sep 19, 2006
Recent observations have uncovered evidence that helps to confirm the identification of the remains of one of the earliest stellar explosions recorded by humans. The new study shows that the supernova remnant RCW 86 is much younger than previously thought.
As such, the formation of the remnant appears to coincide with a supernova observed by Chinese astronomers in 185 A.D. The study used data from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory,
"There have been previous suggestions that RCW 86 is the remains of the supernova from 185 A.D.," said Jacco Vink of University of Utrecht, the Netherlands, and lead author of the study. "These new X-ray data greatly strengthen the case."
When a massive star runs out of fuel, it collapses on itself, creating a supernova that can outshine an entire galaxy. The intense explosion hurls the outer layers of the star into space and produces powerful shock waves. The remains of the star and the material it encounters are heated to millions of degrees and can emit intense X-ray radiation for thousands of years.
In their stellar forensic work, Vink and colleagues studied the debris in RCW 86 to estimate when its progenitor star originally exploded. They calculated how quickly the shocked, or energized, shell is moving in RCW 86, by studying one part of the remnant. They combined this expansion velocity with the size of the remnant and a basic understanding of how supernovas expand to estimate the age of RCW 86.
"Our new calculations tell us the remnant is about 2,000 years old," said Aya Bamba, a coauthor from the Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), Japan. "Previously astronomers had estimated an age of 10,000 years."
The younger age for RCW 86 may explain an astronomical event observed almost 2000 years ago. In 185 AD, Chinese astronomers (and possibly the Romans) recorded the appearance of a new bright star. The Chinese noted that it sparkled like a star and did not appear to move in the sky, arguing against it being a comet. Also, the observers noticed that the star took about eight months to fade, consistent with modern observations of supernovas.
RCW 86 had previously been suggested as the remnant from the 185 AD event, based on the historical records of the object's position. However, uncertainties about the age provided significant doubt about the association.
"Before this work I had doubts myself about the link, but our study indicates that the age of RCW 86 matches that of the oldest known supernova explosion in recorded history," said Vink. "Astronomers are used to referencing results from 5 or 10 years ago, so it's remarkable that we can build upon work from nearly 2000 years ago."
The smaller age estimate for the remnant follows directly from a higher expansion velocity. By examining the energy distribution of the X-rays, a technique known as spectroscopy, the team found most of the X-ray emission was caused by high-energy electrons moving through a magnetic field. This is a well-known process that normally gives rise to low-energy radio emission. However, only very high shock velocities can accelerate the electrons to such high energies that X-ray radiation is emitted.
"The energies reached in this supernova remnant are extremely high," said Andrei Bykov, another team member from the Ioffe Institute, St. Peterburg, Russia. "In fact, the particle energies are greater than what can be achieved by the most modern particle accelerators."
The difference in age estimates for RCW 86 is due to differences in expansion velocities measured for the supernova remnant. The authors speculate that these variations arise because RCW 86 is expanding into an irregular bubble blown by a wind from the progenitor star before it exploded. In some directions, the shock wave has encountered a dense region outside the bubble and slowed down, whereas in other regions the shock remains inside the bubble and is still moving rapidly. These regions give the most accurate estimate of the age.
The study describing these results appeared in the Sepember 1 issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters. NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., manages the Chandra program for the agency's Science Mission Directorate. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Mass., controls science and flight operations from the Chandra X-ray Center, Cambridge, Mass. XMM-Newton is an European Space Agency science mission managed at the European Space Research and Technology Centre, Noordwijk, the Netherlands for the Directorate of the Scientific Programme.
Posted on SOTT
21 Sept 2006
Scientists spot new ring around Saturn
September 20, 2006
LOS ANGELES - Saturn's majestic ring system, visible through backyard telescopes, just got a little more crowded with the discovery of a faint, new ring encircling the giant planet, scientists said Tuesday.
The international Cassini spacecraft beamed back images this week showing the new ring, located inside the outermost E ring.
The new ring crosses the orbits of the Saturn moons Janus and Epimetheus, leading scientists to believe tiny particles from the lunar surfaces gave rise to the ring.
Saturn has seven major rings named A through G, although they are not arrayed in alphabetical order. The planet has about a half dozen smaller, unnamed arcs, but the latest discovery is unique because it is the farthest, said Jeff Cuzzi, a NASA planetary ring expert on the Cassini mission.
Scientists are interested in Saturn's rings because they are a model of the disk of gas and dust that initially surrounded the sun. Studying them could yield important clues about how the planets formed from that disk 4.5 billion years ago.
Cassini was able to photograph the new ring Sunday when the sun passed directly behind Saturn, providing a bright backlight. Researchers are now figuring out its size and composition, but it is likely the new ring is made of water ice particles.
The $3.3 billion Cassini mission, funded by NASA and the European and Italian space agencies, was launched in 1997. Cassini is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena.
Yellow fireball seen in Waikato sky
21 September 2006
By AARON LEAMAN
A bright yellow ball was seen streaking across the Hamilton sky about 6.15pm yesterday, leaving a whispy black line in its wake.
Times reporter Aaron Leaman saw the object and thought it was a meteor.
He saw the object from the Waikato University tennis courts and said it was heading west toward Raglan.
It was visible for about 30 seconds before dropping out of sight.
Hamilton Astronomical Society member, and past president, Carol Thompson said the streaking object could have been a meteor.
Meteor sightings were not uncommon, she said.
It was impossible to say where it might have landed although it could have burnt up before hitting the Earth or landed out to sea, she said.
Earlier this month a meteor was seen racing across the Canterbury skies and was accompanied by a sonic boom as it travelled at an estimated 40,000km/h.
Mrs Thompson said anyone who saw yesterday's streaking object should contact the Hamilton Astronomical Society and fill out a fireball-meteor report form.
Posted on SOTT
26 Sept 2006
Mystery of Castleton triangle - More Electronic Glitches
25 September 2006
A STRANGE phenomenon residents are nicknaming the "Castleton triangle" has hit the village.
People parking in a layby outside Castleton's post office, pub, Co-op and Natwest bank have started experiencing unexplained problems with their cars.
For the last two weeks alarms are going off for no reason, engines are failing to start, windows won't open and close and doors will not lock.
But drive a short distance up the road and it's fine.
Landlord of the Downe Arms pub Phil Tait said seven cars were affected outside his pub on Monday evening and he is now parking his Land Rover around the back.
"It's the talk of the village. It was unbelievable last Monday tea time there were five cars and two Land Rover Discoveries and there were car alarms going off and cars wouldn't start."
Tina Johnson, from High Street, called the Whitby Gazette after she paid ?700 to try to get her Landrover Discovery fixed when it kept failing to start-up. She said she knows of two other Land Rover owners and her daughter Lisa who owns a Peugeot 306 who have being experiencing similar problems with their cars there.
She suggested the problem could be something to do with their vehicles being spiked with radio frequencies.
"It's too weird to be a coincidence. There's talk in the village going around that its something to do with Fylingdales, the bank, the Co-op or the post office. "
Another Land Rover Discovery owner from Castleton, Sue Playle-Watson said her car's immobiliser had suffered problems and the family Mini wouldn't lock or unlock
"It's the Castleton Triangle. It started happening since BT put lines in for broadband about two weeks ago."
The Whitby Gazette has conducted its own investigation into the phenomenon but it remains a mystery.
Commander of RAF Fylingdales, Wing Commander Nicky Loveday said they have carried out a full investigation including diagnostic tests on their radar equipment and she concluded it is highly unlikely it is down to them.
Wg Cdr Loveday said sometimes their radar can affect car immobilisers within a close proximity to the base when they are stationary but she was very sceptical about it happening so much further away. In the past she has known of car manufacturers whose equipment uses the same frequency as their radar but said although she sympathises with people it is an issue for the manufacturers.
"There has been no record of the radar doing anything odd and there have been no extraordinary weather conditions."
Vicky Readman, manager of the Castleton Co-op store, said several of her customers have mentioned problems with cars recently but she didn't know what could be causing it.
"No staff vehicles have been affected and we have not experienced any problems with electronic equipment in the store," she said.
A spokesman for Land Rover said that in the case of Tina Johnson her car's loss of power and stalling was a direct result of oil contamination in a wiring loom and electrical control unit (ECU). She said the loom was replaced and the ECU cleaned but if the symptoms persisted it may be necessary to change the ECU.
She added Land Rover will now be investigating the situation around Castleton.
A spokesman for OFCOM said it sounded like something to do with a wireless device.
He said: "Quite often car alarms are affected by a wireless doorbell or a remote control toy so it's difficult to pin point what it can be."
OFCOM has a special team to investigate these kind of queries over the phone and who can often tell what the problem is by going through a series of questions with the complainant.
BT said their poles and lines do not emit radio or electricity waves and their investigations show the strange occurrence has nothing to do with them while Castleton Post Office and Natwest bank both said all their systems are working as normal and they were not responsible for the problems being experienced by residents.
Anyone still having problems is asked to report their concerns to both RAF Fylingdales and OFCOM.
Comment: What the "conspiracy theorists" aren't getting is that the idea that it is mostly "chemicals" or "poisons" is just a smokescreen. There is an altogether more insidious purpose for these clouds. Richard Dolan tells us:
By the early 1970s, there were already means available to alter the moods of unsuspecting persons. A pocket-sized transmitter generating electromagnetic energy at less than 100 milliwatts could do the job. This is no pie-in-the-sky theory. In 1972, Dr. Gordon J.F. McDonald testified before the House Subcommittee on Oceans and International Environment on the issue of electromagnetic weapons used for mind control and mental disruption. He stated:
[T]he basic notion was to create, between the electrically charged ionosphere in the higher part of the atmosphere and conducting layers of the surface of the Earth, this neutral cavity, to create waves, electrical waves that would be tuned to the brain waves. ...About ten cycles per second. ...You can produce changes in behavioral patterns or in responses.
The following year, Dr. Joseph C. Sharp, at Walter Reed Hospital, while in a soundproof room, was able to hear spoken words broadcast by 'pulsed microwave audiogram.' These words were broadcast to him without any implanted electronic translation device. Rather, they reached him by direct transmission to the brain.
[Dolan, Richard, UFOs and the National Security State]
In short, they are cranking up the HAARP Mind Control System. See also: "Harmless clouds, high above the Earth - Response to "Suspicious clouds over Napa" Chemtrails?" for another clue that HAARP is activating.
Posted on SOTT
27 Sept 2006
Night lights attributed to meteor
Wednesday, 27 September 2006. 09:25 (AEDT)
Coloured lights spotted in the skies over SA's mid-north last night are believed to be from a bright meteor.
The flare-like object was first spotted by a fisherman near Whyalla.
It was also seen in Port Pirie and Port Augusta.
There have been suggestions the object may have been space junk, but it is more likely to have been a meteor.
Posted on SOTT
2 Oct 2006
Meteor reported in Yakima area
2 October 2006
YAKIMA, Wash. The flurry of calls began around 9 p.m. _ reports of a meteor in the skies over Yakima.
Asia (AH-sha) Guerrero called The Associated Press to report what looked like a meteor. She said it seemed to be headed toward the city's Terrace Heights area.
"It looked like a shooting star," she said, but closer. "It absolutely fell to the ground."
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike O'Connor said skies were clear and there were no reports of aircraft in trouble in the area. He said he'd gotten about eight calls about it at the agency's Renton office.
O'Connor says -- quote -- "It sounds like somebody might be seeing a meteor."
A dispatcher at the Yakima County sheriff's office said two sightings had been reported by area officers.
A police officer in Union Gap who declined to give his name said he saw "something bright in the sky ... kind of like fireworks but up high, and then it went away."
63-year-old Mary Cline of Selah says what she saw was -- quote -- "just like a big bright light and it had a tail on it, kind of like a comet, but not real long."
Cline added -- quote -- "It seemed to be really close."
She said she didn't hear it land, and that she only saw the bright light -- "White, with a little bit of blue" -- for a few seconds.
Meteor reported over Yakima area; FAA says no planes in trouble
Sunday, October 1, 2006 ? Last updated 10:27 p.m. PT
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Several people reported seeing a meteor streak through the sky Sunday night over Yakima.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Mike O'Connor said he received about eight calls about it, but no reports of any aircraft in trouble.
A dispatcher with the Yakima County Sheriff's Office said one woman and an area police officer spotted a bright object shooting across the sky.
"It was just like a big bright light, and it had a tail on it - kind of like a comet, but not real long," Mary Cline, 63, told The Associated Press.
Cline said she saw it near a warehouse in Selah, a town about five miles north of Yakima. "It seemed to be really close. It seemed like it was just right over the roof of the warehouse."
Asya Guerrero, 21 of Yakima, called the AP to say she spotted an object that looked like a shooting star, only much closer, headed toward the city's Terrace Heights area.
Posted on SOTT
3 Oct 2006
Giant Meteor Sails Over Saguaro Lake
By Senta Scarborough and JJ Hensley
The Arizona Republic
10/2/2006 3:22:51 PM
PHOENIX, AZ -- Residents who saw a ball of fire in the sky late Sunday evening near Saguaro Lake witnessed a giant meteor, officials said.
Phoenix and Scottsdale police and Rural/Metro Fire Department dispatchers received calls from residents reporting a plane going down in "a ball of fire." Another caller reported seeing a meteor.
"It was a large ball of flame," Rural/Metro Fire Department spokeswoman Alison Cooper said. "It was very large. It was seen as far as Washington state." advertisement
Kip and Valerie Wachter saw the fireball pass over their heads about 10:15 Sunday evening as they walked north of Pinetop.
"The colors were a bright green, red, white. The size was about three times wider than its length. It seemed to emanate a low, soft swishing sound as it passed overhead," the Wachters wrote in an e-mail to The Republic.
Steve Kates, a Chandler resident and science journalist known as "Dr. Sky," said that description, particularly the noise, was consistent with meteoric activity.
Most meteors visible on earth occur high in the atmosphere and these "shooting stars" are about the size of a grain of dust, said Jeffrey Hall, associate director at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.
"The great majority are these tiny particles moving through the atmosphere at a high rate of speed," Hall said. "Larger ones tend to be moving more slowly and produce a much larger trail through the sky."
Between 10 and 50 meteor events occur over the Earth each day, according to the American Meteor Society, with the vast majority happening over oceans and out of eyesight. Meteors lose mass and decelerate as they enter the atmosphere, with only the largest slamming into the Earth and forming a crater. Scientists think the Barringer Crater, near Winslow, was formed by an iron meteor about 50,000 years ago.
Kates said a meteorite the size of a human fist could have created the light show West Coast residents witnessed Sunday night.
Rural/Metro responded to the north side of Saguaro Lake but found no sign of damage or destruction from a plane crash, Cooper said. Witnesses reported seeing the meteor travel from southwest to northeast.
Hall said the meteor likely never made it to the ground.
"This is not like a mountain coming into the atmosphere. It's more like the size of a softball," Hall said. "Even something this bright probably burned up completely in the atmosphere."
Posted on SOTT
5 Oct 2006
UFO surprise in five cities
2 October 06
In several regions of Turkey, there was a surprise sighting of a "UFO" Saturday night. However, the object is speculated to have been a meteor. In Turkey, a flaming ball in the sky caused a stir of a UFO sighting Saturday night. Telephone calls were made all over the country to the route control center at Ankara Esenboga Airport. Citizens from Ankara, Nevsehir, Balikesir, Konya and Antalya said: "We have seen a blazing ball with a flaming tail in the sky; we have seen a UFO." A flying plane around Antalya also reported to the control center that: "an undefined flying object was spotted."
Strange, bright lights surprise stargazers
By TOM SHARPE AND Jason Auslander
The New Mexican
October 3, 2006
Sky-watchers across the western U.S. reported seeing bright lights late Sunday, but theories abound on just what they saw.
It was probably a meteor, one agency said. A UFO expert said space junk is another possibility.
And depending on the observer, this thing that hurtled across the darkness was either red, orange, yellow, blue or white. Or some combination of the above.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano said six people called his dispatcher to report the lights in the sky, including one who thought it might have been a falling airplane.
The National UFO Reporting Center in eastern Washington State reported that about 30 people across the West reported seeing something in the sky, with most of the calls coming from Colorado.
Menka Jain, who was driving near Los Alamos on Sunday night, said she saw what looked to be an orange fiery projectile that exploded into pieces.
Peggy Crumbacher, who lives south of Santa Fe off N.M. 14, said she looked to the north at about 11:15 p.m. "It went from white to blue, and then I could see it turned toward the north, and then it absolutely disappeared,'' she said. "This was not a meteor. Meteors would be bright lights.''
Peter Davenport of the National UFO Reporting Center said Sunday evening's reports began with a fireball over Seattle about 9:26 p.m. New Mexico time.
He said other reports Sunday evening came from:
_Winslow, Ariz., where a large light green fireball was observed at 10:18 p.m.
_Cheyenne, Wyo., where an airplane pilot flying at 30,000 feet observed to the south at 11:15 p.m. at approximately the same altitude a bright object that seemed to eject five golden objects out its back end at regular intervals. The objects remained visible for about 30 seconds.
_Cascade, Colo., where eight to 10 orange objects were seen flying from north to south for about 10 seconds about 11:15 p.m. An airplane was spotted nearby about 10 seconds later.
_Hartsel, Colo., where eight to 10 glowing orange, yellow and red objects were seen about 11:15 p.m. moving south to north. Several of the objects broke off in different directions, while the lead objects changed their color to blue and white before disappearing within one minute.
_Raton, N.M., where a motel employee observed a large gold star about 11:20 p.m. that split into three, then seven objects that moved in a straight line for several seconds.
Davenport said similar lights were reported Sunday evening in Roseville, Calif.; Boulder, Colo.; Silver City and Las Cruces.
"The first thing that comes to my mind was the possibility of space debris,'' he said. "But usually when that happens, NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) at Peterson Air Force Base (in Colorado) makes a statement. ... And I have not heard from NORAD.''
Davenport said some of Sunday's reports had the characteristics of a meteor -- fragments coming off a main object, objects moving in a straight line, flaring up like a match and lasting only a few seconds.
Federal Aviation Administration officials also said the lights were likely a meteor, according to KOB-TV. A person at LodeStar Astronomy Center in Albuquerque didn't know about the lights, and neither did a person who answered the phone at Santa Fe Community College's planetarium.
Posted on SOTT
6 Oct 2006
New Comet Discovered by David Levy
CANARY ISLANDS, Spain, Oct. 5 /PRNewswire/
Renowned comet hunter David Levy discovered Comet C/2006 T1 on Monday, marking his twenty-second find. Soon after hosting his live web broadcast on Slooh.com, Levy turned his telescope towards Saturn and was astonished to find the unexpected object close by the ringed planet. The International Astronomical Union confirmed his discovery Tuesday.
Slooh will broadcast live images of the comet throughout the week -- culminating in a special edition of "David Levy's Sky" at 9:00PM EDT Monday, October 9. "I look forward to seeing the comet live thorough the Slooh Telescopes and sharing my story of discovery with its global membership," said Levy.
"Slooh.com allows astronomy to be enjoyed as a true international sport." The soon to be launched "Slooh Discovery Project" will empower everyday people to make their own amazing astronomical discoveries by expanding Slooh's telescope network to new continents, and coordinating with distinguished comet and supernova hunters worldwide.
Posted on SOTT
9 Oct 2006
T Rex was born in the Irish Sea, say scientists
The Sunday Times
October 08, 2006
A HUGE meteorite that hit the Irish Sea and left a crater the size of Surrey may have helped giant dinosaurs come to dominate the planet, scientists have claimed.
The researchers, who have analysed rock formations in the British Isles and France, believe the impact caused a tsunami that swamped large parts of Europe.
They argue the meteor strike 200m years ago and others like it may have led to changes in the Earth's climate that caused some species to die out and others to dominate.
It has long been argued that the extinction of the dinosaurs 65m years ago was caused by a massive asteroid strike.
But scientists have wondered why dinosaurs, which had previously been relatively puny, began to develop into giants such as Tyrannosaurus rex about 200m years ago.
One theory is that increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere led to bigger plants, which encouraged the development of bigger herbivores and then a growth in the size of predators.
Other scientists claim an impact by a meteor may account for the relative suddenness of the change.
"There was a relatively sudden increase in the size of dinosaurs around the time we have dated this impact," said Michael Simms, curator of paleontology at the Ulster Museum in Belfast who led the research. "This impact may well have been a factor in the changes that were going on."
Simms's team found evidence of the shock probably caused by a meteorite, which may have been up to two miles wide and hit at 18,000mph, in data from boreholes and rock formations covering 100,000 square miles.
They have not found the crater itself, but they believe the meteor may have hit what is now St George's Channel, between Pembrokeshire and the Irish coast. Much of western Britain and Ireland was under water at the time.
The crater may have been more than 30 miles wide but would now be deeply buried beneath the sea floor.
In the research, published in an academic journal, Simms looked for signs of impact rippling out from the crater in sediment that would have been affected by the shockwave. He analysed rock and borehole data and found the same unique pattern at every site he looked at, from Northern Ireland to Yorkshire and Dorset.
Paul Barrett, a paleontologist at the Natural History Museum in London, said Simms's theory was "an interesting idea".
"This is the first geological suggestion that there was an impact at this time. What we really want to back this up is a crater of the right age."
Posted on SOTT
10 Oct 2006
UK to join 'killer' asteroid hunt
Monday, 9 October 2006, 15:14 GMT 16:14 UK
UK astronomers are to join a search for Earth-threatening asteroids measuring less than 1km (0.6 miles) across.
Researchers from three universities have signed an agreement to use one of the world's most advanced telescopes - the Pan-Starrs observatory in Hawaii.
Pan-Starrs, sited on the island of Maui, is equipped with a huge digital camera.
While searching for near-Earth asteroids, it will build up the most detailed image yet of the Universe.
This will enable astronomers to investigate small Solar System objects and search for exploding stars, to produce three-dimensional maps of galaxies and dark matter, to measure the properties of dark energy and to investigate how galaxies have evolved.
Researchers from the University of Durham, Queen's University Belfast and the University of Edinburgh have signed an agreement to start using the facility.
"The current generation of search telescopes are designed for the objects about 1km across and larger, because if one of those hits, it could cause instant global climate change," said Alan Fitzsimmons, a professor of astronomy at Queen's University Belfast.
"The smaller objects need a larger telescope and a more efficient camera system - they're the kinds of objects Pan-Starrs has been designed to detect.
"Even though they're smaller and don't cause as much damage, there are more of them and they hit more frequently."
Eye on the sky
Although sub-1km asteroids might not cause devastation on a global scale, they could cause death and destruction at a local and regional level, potentially wiping out millions of lives.
The last significant event like this occurred in 1908, when an asteroid or comet exploded above the Tunguska region of Siberia. The area was sparsely populated and, as a result, did not cause extensive loss of life.
But a similar explosion over an urbanised area could have more dramatic consequences.
Dr Fitzsimmons and his colleagues at Queen's will head up UK efforts to identify potentially deadly asteroids.
Researchers at Durham and Edinburgh will primarily work on imaging more distant objects in the Universe as well as studying the evolution of galaxies.
John Peacock, professor of cosmology at Edinburgh University, commented: "Pan-Starrs will be an amazing tool for studying the make-up of the Universe.
"It will let us measure the properties of dark matter and dark energy in many different ways, more precisely than ever before."
The planned Pan-Starrs telescope will use four 1.8m telescopes. A prototype telescope called "PS1" has been built on the Haleakala volcanic peak in Hawaii.
Posted on SOTT
11 Oct 2006
In search of meteorites
October 10, 2006
By BILL HETHCOCK THE GAZETTE
Imagine searching for marble-size rocks in a 50-mile strip between Penrose and Ellicott.
That's essentially what meteorite hunter and collector Robert Ward was doing Tuesday.
One of the brightest meteors reported in recent years slow-danced across Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado the night of Oct. 1, possibly dropping meteorites toward the tail end of its trip.
Ward said he has chased fireballs worldwide for 20 years, and this is the most impressive.
"This one traveled amazingly far, amazingly low, and amazingly slowly," he said. "It was a very big, very bright fireball seen by a lot of people."
Jeff and Pam Holmberg are two of those people.
The husband and wife were watching television in their house north of Westcliffe when Jeff looked out the window and saw the fireball soar over the Sangre de Cristo mountain range.
Pam was dozing off after a full day of football watching.
"I started hootin' and hollerin' and she came out of the chair like a shot," Jeff Holmberg said.
He and his wife ran outside in time to see the main fireball break into three or four pieces. Jeff Holmberg scrambled up a ladder to the roof and watched the meteor pieces disappear into the northeast horizon toward Colorado Springs.
"It was a big, bright light with a smoke trail behind it," he said. "It looked like the landing light on a big jet."
The Holmbergs estimated the fireball took 20 seconds to pass from horizon to horizon.
"I was just incredible how close it seemed," Pam Holmberg said. "It was floating across, so bright, it seemed like you could just reach out and touch it."
Eyewitnesses and cameras that capture the whole sky in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona caught the fireball at 11:16 p.m on Oct. 1, said Chris Peterson, an astronomer and a researcher at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Witnesses also reported hearing the sonic boom, a sound similar to thunder. The sonic boom is heard several minutes after the fireball is seen because it takes the sound that long to travel to earth from more than 20 miles in the air, Peterson said.
The fireball traveled generally southwest to northeast, beginning northeast of Phoenix, cutting across northwest New Mexico and ending east of Colorado Springs.
It was captured by sky cameras at the Guffey School and at Cloudbait Observatory north of Guffey, which Peterson runs, as well as by sky cameras in New Mexico.
Camera data suggests the full flight lasted at least 45 seconds - an eternity for a meteor, Peterson said.
"It was very, very long," he said. "It was going about as slow as a meteor gets. To see a meteor that goes on for more than half a minute is remarkable."
Witnesses and cameras show the meteor breaking into multiple pieces in a long train extending at least 70 miles from southern Colorado to Colorado Springs, Peterson said. He described the breakup pattern as "extremely unusual." Usually meteors fade out, but videos show this one split into a long string of individual fireballs, Peterson said.
Meteorites may have dropped over the central San Luis Valley, in the Sangre de Cristo mountains, across the Wet Mountain Valley and continuing to Ellicott, 20 miles east of Colorado Springs.
Ward, who is from Arizona, is focusing his hunt for space rocks between between Penrose and Ellicott.
He started by talking to people at fire stations, gas stations and convenience stores and asking if anyone had seen or heard anything unusual.
Ward found Jeff Holmberg at the Wet Mountain Fire Protection District, where Homberg volunteers. Holmberg had told his skeptical fellow firefighters about what he'd seen.
"The boys at the fire station just kind of grinned and shook their heads and asked me about aliens and stuff," he said.
A couple of days later, Ward walked in and asked if anyone had seen a possible meteor. Holmberg invited Ward to his house for breakfast and told him his story over biscuits and gravy.
The men climbed on Holmberg's roof. Ward took compass readings and gathered other information he'll use to estimate the fireball's flight path.
Meteorites are typically black, unusual-looking rocks with rounded surfaces, Ward said. They're usually heavier than other rocks the same size and 90 percent are magnetic.
He finds about 80 meteorites a year, some of them hundreds of years old. It's rare and more scientifically significant to find meteorites that have just fallen.
"This was in space a week ago," Ward said. "It's extremely fresh. It's important to get it into a lab as soon as possible so it can be analyzed."
While Ward concentrates on where meteorites might have ended up, Peterson is more interested in where the space rocks came from.
With good reports from several locations, scientists can estimate the orbit of the meteor before it entered Earth's atmosphere. Then, if meteorites are found, they can be tested to provide scientifically valuable information about the parent body, Peterson said.
They can also be valuable to dealers and collectors, who base their worth on factors such as where the meteorite is from and whether there were witnesses to the meteor fall.
A witnessed, fresh fall that turns out to be from the moon or Mars might be worth more than $1 million. Other meteorites have little monetary value.
Posted on SOTT
13 Oct 2006
Does world-record meteorite await unearthing in Kansas?
By KEVIN MURPHY
The Kansas City Star
Fri, Oct. 13, 2006
Something big is buried beneath a south-central Kansas wheat field, according to Steve Arnold's metal detector.
But could it be a meteorite, likely the largest ever found on Earth? Or could it be something as mundane as an old tractor?
Meteorite hunter Arnold and some scientists may know the answer today as they use special equipment to make images of the object, which Arnold's metal detector measured at 12 feet by 18 feet and perhaps 7 feet below ground.
"I usually try to set my expectations a little low and be pleasantly surprised," Arnold, a Wichita native, said in a phone interview Thursday from the farm near Greensburg.
Arnold has created a lot of interest in his discovery. Scientists from The Houston Museum of Natural Science and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston are in Kansas to look at the object using a ground-penetrating radar device.
Carolyn Sumners, director of astronomy at the museum, said no one has tried to hype the potentially large meteorite. Only a few news outlets have been notified.
"We don't want another Capone's vault," Sumners said, referring to the 1986 buildup to the live television opening of gangster Al Capone's vault. Only dirt and some empty liquor bottles were discovered.
Sumners wants to do a film for the museum on the recovery of a meteorite and then put the rock on display.
Even if the large object is not a meteorite, several much smaller but potentially significant meteorites could be on the site, according to Arnold's metal detector.
Arnold made big news last fall when on the same farm he uncovered a 1,400-pound pallasite meteorite, the largest of its type ever found. It had a rare bullet-like shape and smooth surface, and was made of nickel and olivine crystals.
The size of that one was not close to the world-record Hoba meteorite, which is about 9 feet by 9 feet and weighs 66 tons. Found in 1920, it is in Namibia.
If the object Arnold found is a meteorite, it could be twice as big as the Hoba meteorite, said Phil Mani, Arnold's partner and lawyer, who will be at the farm site this weekend.
Mani said 99 of 100 objects the metal detector picks up are "meteor-wrongs," but he was still hopeful the Kansas one was a meteorite because of its size. If it is detected as an apparent meteorite, a hole will be dug Monday so that part of it can be uncovered and viewed.
That, Mani said, would be "the eureka moment."
Saturn's Rings Show Evidence Of A Modern-Day Collision
October 13, 2006
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Scientists with NASA's Cassini mission have spied a new, continuously changing feature that provides circumstantial evidence that a comet or asteroid recently collided with Saturn's innermost ring, the faint D ring.
Imaging scientists see a structure in the outer part of the D ring that looks like a series of bright ringlets with a regularly spaced interval of about 30 kilometers (19 miles). An observation made by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope in 1995 also saw a periodic structure in the outer D ring, but its interval was then 60 kilometers (37 miles). Unlike many features in the ring system that have not changed over the last few decades, the interval of this pattern has been decreasing over time.
These findings are being presented today at the Division for Planetary Sciences Meeting of the American Astronomical Society held in Pasadena, Calif. Images are available at http://www.nasa.gov/cassini , http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov and http://ciclops.org .
"This structure in the D ring reminds us that Saturn's rings are not eternal, but instead are active, dynamical systems, which can change and evolve," said Dr. Matt Hedman, Cassini imaging team associate at Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
When Cassini researchers viewed the D ring along a line of sight nearly parallel to the ringplane, they observed a pattern of brightness reversals: a part of the ring that appears bright on the far side of the rings appeared dark on the near side of the rings, and vice versa.
This phenomenon would occur if the region contains a sheet of fine material that is vertically corrugated, like a tin roof. In this case, variations in brightness would correspond to changing slopes in the rippled ring material.
Both the changes over time and the "corrugated" structure of this region could be explained by a collision of a comet or meteoroid into the D ring, which then kicked out a cloud of fine particles. This cloud might have inherited some of the tilt of the colliding object's path as it slammed into the rings. An alternate explanation could be that the object struck an already inclined moonlet, shattering it to bits and leaving its debris in an inclined orbit.
In either case, the researchers speculate the aftermath of such a collision would be a ring slightly tilted relative to Saturn's equatorial plane. Over a period of time, as the inclined orbits of the ring particles evolve, this flat sheet of material would become a corrugated spiral that appears to wind up like a spring over time, which is what was observed.
Based on observations between 1995 and 2006, scientists reconstructed a timeline and estimated that the collision occurred in 1984.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.
Posted on SOTT
17 Oct 2006
Mystery Hum in New Zealand Baffles Researchers
Massey University researchers, investigating an unexplained hum in the environment, are being inundated by phone calls.
The callers report hearing hum-like noises, that others with them can not hear.
The research began when a North Shore woman said she was being made sick by a constant hum in and around her house in Brown's Bay.
A pair of Massey University scientists went to the house and failed to hear it.
Dr Tom Moir and Dr Alam Kakhrul say hearing a hum is common worldwide, and they have dubbed it the 'Unidentified Acoustic Phenomena'.
Dr Moir says there are two possible explanations for the noise.
He says it could be a very low frequency sound that only certain people can hear.
Or it could be that microwaves in the atmosphere trigger a hum-like sound in the heads of some people.
The research continues.
Mars-bound technology finds rare meteorite in Kansas
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-17 17:22:08
BEIJING, Oct. 17 (Xinhuanet) -- U.S. scientists located a rare meteorite on Monday in a Kansas wheat field famous for its meteorite finds thanks to new ground penetrating radar technology being perfected for use on Mars.
The dig, in an area named Brenham Field because of its proximity to the city of Brenham, is probably the most documented excavation yet of a meteorite. The newest find weighs 154 lbs and measures 18 by 12 by 12 inches, which is bigger than most such meteorites but average for this particular field.
Researchers painstakingly used brushes and hand tools in order to preserve evidence of the impact trail and to date the event of the meteorite strike. Soil samples were also bagged and tagged, and organic material preserved for dating purposes.
Researchers documented every aspect of the dig from various scientific disciplines. Among them were an archaeologist, a paleontologist, a naturalist, geologists, astronomers, and even an animator, who recreated the meteor fall.
But Essam Heggy received the most attention. A planetary scientist at the Johnson Space Center's Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, it was his ground-penetrating technology that pinpointed the site and proved for the first time that the technology could be used to find objects buried deep in the ground and to make an accurate three-dimensional image of them.
"It validates the technique so we can use something similar to that instrument when we go to Mars," Reiff said.
Its location in the Pleistocene epoch soil layer puts the date of impact closer to 10,000 years ago, which disputes the commonly held theory that the Brenham meteorite fell 20,000 years ago.
"We know it is recent," said Carolyn Sumners, director of Astronomy at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, as she surveyed progress on the dig. "Native Americans could have seen it."
The Brenham meteorite scattered more than three tons of meteorite fragments in the vicinity. The meteorite field was discovered in 1882. Pieces of the Brenham meteorite have also been found as far away as 1,000 miles -- transported by Native American traders and buried in mounds by the Hopewell people more than 1,500 years ago.
Some pieces were pounded into iron knives, ear ornaments, chisels, buttons and beads.
For thousands of years, meteorites were the primary source of iron metal for peoples around the world. All natural iron rusts, or oxidizes. But only meteoritic iron is mixed with nickel, forming a steel alloy that is extremely strong and rust-resistant.
The scientific expedition of the meteorite strewn field in western Kansas was put together by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and led by meteorite hunters Steve Arnold and Philip Mani. Johnson Space Center's Lunar and Planetary Institute, the Rice Space Institute at Rice University and George Observatory in Houston also sent researchers.
"What is unique is not the size, but the fact it was found in context," said Patricia Reiff, director of the Rice Space Institute.
Posted on SOTT
20 Oct 2006
Meteor totals German cottage
By Lester Haines
Friday 20th October 2006
German police today announced that a fire which swept through a cottage near Bonn, in the process injuring a 77-year-old man, was probably caused by a meteor.
According to Reuters, the 10 October incendiary incident in Siegburg gutted the cottage and "badly burned the man's hands and face".
Police spokesman Burkhard Rick said: "We sought assistance from Bochum observatory and they noted that at that particular moment the Earth was near a field of meteoroid splinter and it could be assumed that particles had entered the atmosphere.
"The particles usually don't reach the surface because they disintegrate in the atmosphere. But some can make it to the ground. We believe this was a bolide [meteoric fireball] with a size of no more than 10mm."
Orionid Meteor Shower To Peak October 20-24
Oct 20, 2006
Los Angeles, CA - The Orionid meteor shower isn't one of the year's richest, but it's pretty. Every year it produces up to 20 "shooting stars" visible per hour before dawn from about October 20th to 24th, given good sky conditions. This year the Moon is new and therefore absent from the early-morning sky.
The Orionids have an illustrious parentage. Like the Eta Aquarids of May, they are bits of debris shed long ago by Halley's Comet. The two showers are essentially one and the same; Earth intersects a single, broad stream of meteoroids at two places in its orbit on opposite sides of the Sun.
Like the Eta Aquarids, the Orionids tend to be faint and swift -- only the Leonids hit Earth's atmosphere faster -- and they often leave briefly glowing trains. The shower is actually a complex of several subshowers with different maxima spread over several days. The subshowers' radiants (the perspective points from which the meteors would appear to come if you could see them approaching from the far distance) are grouped near Orion's Club.
For observers around 40 degrees north latitude, the radiants rise high in the eastern sky (at least 45 degrees up) by about 2 a.m. local daylight-saving time. So that's when the meteor activity gets good. The first light of dawn begins stealing into the east about four hours later.
Halley's Comet last came through the inner solar system in 1985-86, and its 15-by-8-kilometer (9-by-5-mile) nucleus shed a layer of dirty ice about 6 meters (20 feet) thick on average. This has been happening every 76 years for many millennia. During that time the dirt bits have spread all around Halley's elongated orbit and a fair distance from it sideways, which is why some of the particles now intersect Earth even though the comet's orbit does not.
(The orbits of Halley and Earth are separated by 22 million km, or 15% of the average Earth-Sun distance, at their closest point.) No one knows how long it took the Orionid meteoroids to drift so far off track -- one estimate is 4,000 to 10,000 years -- but it's clear that as shower meteoroids go, the Orionids are old.
They've been seen for a long time too. The first known Orionid shower was recorded by the Chinese in AD 288, when "stars fell like rain." The shower has been well observed ever since astronomers first recognized its radiant in 1864.
To watch the Orionids, bundle up very warmly and bring a lawn chair and sleeping bag; meteor observing is the coldest activity you can do close to home. Find a dark spot with an open view of the sky. The less light pollution the better; a shower like this one that's rich in faint meteors is especially hard hit by artificial skyglow. The direction to watch is wherever your sky is darkest. "Arrange the chair so that any bright lights are behind you out of sight, bundle up, lie back, and watch the stars," says Sky and Telescope senior editor Alan MacRobert. "Be patient."
Strong Leonid Meteor Shower Expected Nov. 18
By Joe Rao
SPACE.com Skywatching Columnist
17 October 2006
If you live in Western Europe or eastern North America, put a big circle on your calendar around Saturday, Nov. 18. If that night is clear, bundle up warmly and head outside because you may be able to catch a glimpse of an intense, albeit brief display of Leonid meteors.
The Leonids are composed of the dusty debris that has been shed by the comet Temple-Tuttle, a small celestial body that orbits the Sun at 33-year intervals. In those years during and then for several years after the comet has swept through the inner solar system, it has had a propensity for producing spectacular meteor displays; meteors falling by the hundreds, if not thousands per hour.
These "shooting stars" all apparently emanate from the constellation of Leo, the Lion. Hence the name "Leonids."
The great years
The comet last passed the Sun and Earth in 1998, and from that year through 2002, the Leonids produced showers in which meteors fell at rates of more than a thousand per hour-displays that astronomers call meteor storms.
Since 2003, however, with Temple-Tuttle having receded back into the far reaches of the solar system, the Leonids have been disappointing, barely producing more than 10 meteors per hour.
It appeared that the chances of any more spectacular Leonid displays were over for many years to come. But that might not be case, if the calculations of several reputable meteor scientists prove to be correct.
Prediction for 2006
Apparently, a rather narrow but dense ribbon of dust was shed by comet Temple-Tuttle when it passed the Sun in 1932. When the Earth interacted with that dusty trail back in 1969, it produced a brief bevy of some 200 to 300 meteors in less than hour.
In 2006, Earth will be nearly twice as far away from the comet as opposed to 1969, but expectations are that as many as 100 to 150 Leonids may streak across the sky in only an hour's time as we interact with that decades-old ribbon of debris again.
The expected time of peak activity is 11:45 p.m. EST on the night of Nov. 18.
Where to watch
For those living in eastern North America, the constellation of Leo will be rising in the eastern sky. Unfortunately, those living across the central and western parts of the United States and Canada will be out of luck, since Leo will not yet have risen and the expected peak of the display will be over when Leo finally comes above the horizon.
Skywatchers in Western Europe will have ringside seats: The peak is due early on Sunday morning, Nov. 19 at 4:45 GMT. Leo will be high in the southeast sky, just before sunrise affording the very best Leonid views.
Meteor watching is easy. Simply find the darkest location you can with a clear view of the eastern horizon. Then go out and look up. Binoculars and telescopes are of no use.
Posted on SOTT
25 Oct 2006
New mass extinction theory 'Hell on Earth'
Meteors rained down from the heavens and volcanoes erupted mercilessly for hundreds of thousands of years before one final meteor blow eradicated life on planet Earth...
That's the new theory on Earth's last major extinction, from a Princeton University paleontologist. If correct, her research makes extinct the science community's most common extinction theory.
Current thinking is that the Chicxulub meteor wiped out the final era of dinosaurs. But lead researcher Gerta Keller thinks that was only the beginning of Earth's spiral into chaos.
"The Chicxulub impact could not have caused the mass extinction," says Keller in a statement. "Because this impact predates the mass extinction and apparently didn't cause any extinction."
Researchers drilled at the Mexico crater location and removed marine sediments. These reveal the meteor hit Earth 300,000 years before the mass extinction in question, researchers say. Fossils found in the same area, at about the same age, seem to be undamaged by the impact.
After Chicxulub, a series of meteors assaulted Earth's surface over the next 300,000 years. At the same time, super-volcanoes in India erupted and released a massive amount of greenhouse gases into the air - rapidly raising Earth's temperature and putting life on the brink.
Finally, a massive meteor impact delivered the knock-out punch and drove the dinosaurs to extinction. The evidence it left behind in the fossil record is the anomalous spike in iridium, an alien material that was most likely delivered to Earth by meteor.
Keller will present her new theory at the Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America in Philadelphia this week.
Comment: If it happened once, it could happen again.
Posted on SOTT
27 Oct 2006
Mysterious humming driving Aucklanders 'bonkers'
October 27, 2006
By Kate Chapman
New Zealand Herald
A mysterious humming driving people to despair across Auckland has pricked the ears, and curiosity, of scientists trying to find the source.
Massey University computer engineering scientists Tom Moir and Fakhrul Alam have been contacted by more than 30 people, most in Auckland and the North Shore, who claim to have heard a humming noise.
The symptoms are similar to those suffered by people with tinnitus, commonly associated with a prolonged high-frequency ringing in the ear.
The scientists are visiting people who can hear the humming, and trying to measure the noise in the hope they will be able to identify its source.
People from central Auckland to Kaiwaka in Northland have reported the sound, as have residents from the North Shore suburbs of Torbay, Browns Bay, Murrays Bay, Birkenhead and Beach Haven, and Stanmore Bay on Whangaparaoa.
The scientists are measuring the frequency by playing a second low frequency to someone who can hear the humming. When the person can no longer hear the hum, the frequency they are playing is the same as the humming noise.
Dr Moir said people could definitely hear a sound. "It's quite serious to them, it's driving them bonkers. I was there at the same time and I couldn't hear anything."
He said the sound was well within the average hearing range for people.
Most people can hear between 20 hertz and 20 kilohertz and the humming is around 56 hertz, according to Dr Moir's research.
Not everyone could hear the sound, because of its low volume, he said.
"We're all born differently - some people are better runners, some people are better hearers."
An Auckland woman who heard the sound described it as a "low drone or rumble".
The woman, who asked not to be named or have her suburb identified, said the noise had become so bad she was thinking about selling her home.
"I absolutely love my home but last night I couldn't get to sleep before 5am. In desperation I even tried to put Blu-Tack in my ears," she said.
But nothing works. The noise is louder inside and during the night when there are no other sounds to mask it.
The woman said there was no point telling people who could not hear it because they thought she was "stark raving mad".
The founder, patron and counsellor of the New Zealand Tinnitus Association, Joan Saunders, said some of the people who contacted Dr Moir did have tinnitus, but not all of them.
She could not diagnose everyone without meeting them, she said.
Dr Moir could not hear the sound himself but his wife, Jude, could.
She described the sound as an "awful noise and sensation".
"It feels creepy. It's not a place I'd like to live regularly," Mrs Moir said.
Author Rachel McAlpine based her 2005 novel The Humming on her experiences of a mysterious humming in Puponga, near Farewell Spit.
The book featured an unknown humming noise that plagued only certain people in a small town.
Mystery 'explosion' damages homes
Reports of a loud explosion on the north Cornwall and Devon border are being investigated.
A number of residents reported hearing a loud bang between 1130 and 1200 BST around the Bude and Holsworthy area. Others said their homes were damaged.
Western Power and the British Geological Survey have carried out checks in the area.
Pc Baxter Proven of Devon and Cornwall Police said an investigation was under way into the cause.
He said: "One theory being considering is perhaps a military aircraft has broken the sound barrier a little too close to the land and that has caused this sonic boom and this, in turn, caused some light damage around the north Cornwall area."
One resident in Bude said a crack in her kitchen had widened as a result, and others reported experiencing their properties "shaking".
A BBC Radio Cornwall listener said: "The stables physically shook. It sounded like Concorde used to sound when it broke the sonic barrier. But much louder. It went 'boom, boom'."
A crack that was left at one home
Experts ruled out the possibility of an earth tremor
Western Power Distribution said engineers had completed checks and found no faults with its systems.
The Ministry of Defence and the RAF said there were no records of their aircraft flying over the area.
The Civil Aviation Authority said it was also unaware of the cause.
David Galloway from the British Geological Survey said the organisation checked its readings for the area after receiving several phone calls about the bang.
He said: "We've not got any signals at all from any instruments, and in fact we have instruments nearby at Hartland Point."
He added it was possible that it might have been a sonic boom, but although the equipment was geared towards detecting ground movement, it would sometimes pick up such disturbances as well.
He said: "Typically we'd register any ground movement but we have been known to have signals of a sonic nature to register."
Comment: There are a couple of reports of similar incidents in different locations here, and if interested in this topic there is the Signs Supplement: Sonic or "Mystery" Booms.
Study: sun has sisters at birth
www.chinaview.cn 2006-10-26 20:59:57
BEIJING, Oct. 26 (Xinhuanet) -- The sun, our medium-sized yellow star, was far from alone when it was formed, with hundred of thousands of siblings, according to a new research on Thursday.
"The evidence for the solar sisters was found in daughters--such as decayed particles from radioactive isotopes of iron--trapped in meteorites, which can be studied as fossil remnants of the early solar system," said Leslie Looney, who arrived at the solar sibling finding along with his colleagues at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
These daughter species allowed Looney and his colleagues to discern that a supernova with the mass of about 20 suns exploded relatively near the early sun when it formed 4.6 billion years ago; and where there are supernovas or any massive star, you also see hundreds to thousands of sun-like stars, he said.
The cluster of thousands of stars dispersed billions of years ago due to a lack of gravitational pull, Looney said, leaving the sisters "lost in space" and our sun looking like an only child ever since.
Wow! Striking Green Comet Suddenly Visible in Evening Sky
What had been a modest comet seen only with binoculars or telescopes flared up this week to become visible to the naked eye.
Comet Swan, as it is called, is in the western sky after sunset from the Northern Hemisphere. It remains faint, likely not easy to find under bright city lights but pretty simple to spot from the countryside.
It is a "fairly easy naked-eye comet," said Pete Lawrence, who photographed the comet from the UK. "The tail is now showing some interesting features too."
UPDATE: Late Thursday, however, Lawrence reported that the comet already may be getting dimmer. It is not clear what skywatchers should expect of this comet.
The comet, also catalogued as C/2006 M4, is about halfway up in the sky in the direction of the constellation Corona Borealis [Sky Map].
As with most comets, this one looks like a fuzzy star. It has an interesting green tint, however, indicating it has a lot of the poisonous gas cyanogen and diatomic carbon, astronomers say.
Sam Storch, a long-time sky watcher from Long Island, NY, said the comet appears "quite a bit deeper than any other green I have seen in any sky object, even planetary nebulae."
"Comet Swan is very easy to find," said Joe Rao, SPACE.com's Skywatching Columnist. "In good binoculars it appears as a bright, symmetrical and surprisingly green blob."
Comets, the stuff of legend and myth, are frozen leftovers of the solar system's formation. Most orbit the Sun out beyond Neptune, but a few wander through the inner solar system now and then. As a comet gets closer to the Sun, solar radiation boils the frozen gases, along with dust, off the comet's surface. Sunlight reflects off this material, creating a head, or coma. Some comets never get very bright. Others brighten dramatically. Some even come unglued as they round the Sun.
Some comets, like Swan, also sport a tail or two. Such detail is best seen with binoculars or a small telescope.
Comet Swan was discovered last year. It makes its closest approach to Earth today. Eventually it will return to the distant reaches of the solar system. Rao said nobody knows how long the comet will grace the night sky.
Comment: Original story has pic.
Posted on SOTT
30 Oct 2006
Dinosaurs 'lived for 300,000 years after Mexican meteor strike'
JOHN VON RADOWITZ
Mon 30 Oct 2006
DINOSAURS were killed off by a meteor that hit the Earth 300,000 years after the one blamed for their extinction, a scientist has claimed.
Dr Gerta Keller, from Princeton University, New Jersey, insists the Chicxulub impact off the coast of Mexico 65 million years ago could not on its own have wiped out the dinosaurs.
Evidence of the crater left by the giant asteroid or comet has been found under the sea off the coast of Yucatan.
But according to Dr Keller, Chicxulub was only the warm-up for a much larger impact more than a quarter of a million years later. It was this meteor which left a tell-tale layer of extraterrestrial iridium in rocks around the Earth, not the earlier one, she says.
However, no-one has yet found the crater from the "final straw" impact which ended the age of reptiles in one of the largest ever mass extinctions.
"There is some evidence that it may have hit in India," said Dr Keller.
The crater, named Shiva by one expert, is estimated to measure 310 miles in diameter. However, there is little proof of its existence.
Dr Keller said marine microfossils in sediments drilled from the ocean floor showed that Chicxulub hit Earth 300,000 years before the mass extinction it was supposed to have caused.
The small marine animals that produced the microfossils escaped virtually unscathed.
The Chicxulub impact combined with the Deccan-flood basalt eruptions in India - a long period of intense volcanic activity - to nudge species towards the brink, said Dr Keller.
Vast amounts of greenhouse gas were pumped into the atmosphere by the Deccan volcanism over a period of more than a million years. By the time Chicxulub struck, land temperatures were 7-8C warmer than they had been 20,000 earlier.
Weakened by these events, species were finally killed off by the second impact.
Posted on SOTT
31 Oct 2006
'Meteor' caused mystery explosion
A chief scientist claims a loud bang on the north Cornwall and Devon border was caused by a large meteor exploding.
David Carcary from the West Cornwall Astronomical Society said a meteor had created the sonic boom before burning up after it entered the atmosphere.
He said the lack of any seismological signals indicates it burned up before it hit the ground.
Residents in the Bude and Holsworthy areas had reported hearing a loud bang around midday on Thursday.
One resident in Bude said a crack in her kitchen had widened as a result, while others reported experiencing their properties "shaking".
I'm fairly convinced it was a meteor but the only way to prove it would be to have an audio recording
A BBC Radio Cornwall listener said: "The stables physically shook. It sounded like Concorde used to sound when it broke the sonic barrier. But much louder. It went 'boom, boom'."
Checks carried out by Western Power and the British Geological Survey in the area were inconclusive and the Ministry of Defence, the RAF and the Civil Aviation Authority said there were no records of their aircraft flying over the area.
Mr Carcary believes a similar explosion which shook the south of New Zealand in September was caused by a meteor.
"As soon as I heard the news of the bang, that was the most obvious explanation to me.
"There wasn't any seismic evidence so it burnt out before it hit the ground - luckily for the people of Bude - and if it was an aircraft, I would have expected someone to have seen it.
"I'm fairly convinced it was a meteor but the only way to prove it would be to have an audio recording of the boom."