03 March 2009

March 2009

Canada: Strange sighting in Fort St. John, British Columbia skies

There's no official confirmation yet of anything unusual in the area
but residents east of Fort St. John report seeing something strange
falling from the sky on Saturday afternoon.

Vincent Miller says he saw it, while travelling north on road 239. [Hear audio]

Mr. Miller says it all happened very quickly but it looked like it came down less than five miles away.

However, he's heard no reports of any sitings of debris on the ground.

He puts his farm about 14 miles straight east of Fort St. John, on the north side of the Beatton River.

Small Asteroid Buzzes Earth‏

Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 DD45
is about to fly past Earth only 72,000 km (0.000482 AU) away. That's
about twice the height of a typical geostationary communications
satellite. The 30- to 40-meter wide space rock is similar in size to
the Tunguska impactor of
1908, but this time there is no danger of a collision. At closest
approach on March 2nd, around 1340 UT (5:40 am PST), 2009 DD45 will
speed through the constellation Virgo shining as brightly as an 11th
magnitude star. Experienced amateur astronomers can track the asteroid
using this ephemeris.

Update: Using a 14-inch telescope at the
University of Nariño Observatory in Columbia, Alberto Quijano Vodniza
has photographed the asteroid streaking toward Earth thirteen hours
before closest approach: 1 MB movie.

Scientists Find Asteroids Are Missing in The Asteroid Belt, and Possibly Why

University of Arizona scientists have uncovered a curious case of missing asteroids.

The main asteroid belt is a zone containing millions of rocky objects
between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The scientists find that there
ought to be more asteroids there than researchers observe. The missing
asteroids may be evidence of an event that took place about 4 billion
years ago, when the solar system's giant planets migrated to their
present locations.

UA planetary sciences graduate student David A. Minton and UA
planetary sciences professor Renu Malhotra say missing asteroids is an
important piece of evidence to support an idea that the early solar
system underwent a violent episode of giant planet migration that might
possibly be responsible for a heavy asteroidal bombardment of the inner

The scientists are reporting on their research in an
article, "A record of planet migration in the Main Asteroid Belt," in
the Feb. 26 issue of Nature.

Minton and Malhotra began by looking at the distribution of asteroids
in the main asteroid belt. Astronomers first discovered a series of
gaps in the asteroid belt, now called the Kirkwood gaps, back in the
1860s when only a handful of asteroids were known. The gaps occur at
distinct regions of the asteroid belt where Jupiter's and Saturn's
gravity strongly perturbs and ejects asteroids. The present-day orbits
of Jupiter and Saturn explain why these unstable regions are devoid of

"What we wanted to know was, how much of the structure of the
asteroid belt could be explained simply by the gravitational effects of
the giant planets, as are the Kirkwood gaps," Minton said.

Minton and Malhotra looked at the distribution of all
asteroids with diameters greater than 50 kilometers, or about 30 miles.
All asteroids of this size have been found, giving the UA researchers
an observationally complete set for their study. Also, almost all
asteroids this large have remained intact since the asteroid belt
formed more than 4 billion years ago, a time record spanning all but
the very beginning of solar system history.

"We ran massive sets of simulations with computer planets
where we filled up the asteroid belt region with a uniform distribution
of computer asteroids," Minton said. The scientists then had the
computers simulate the billions of years of solar system history.

Their simulations ultimately ended with far more asteroids
remaining than are actually observed in the asteroid belt. When the
simulated asteroid belt was compared with the actual asteroid belt,
they discovered a peculiar pattern in the differences. The simulated
asteroid belt matched the real asteroid belt quite well on the
sunward-facing sides of the Kirkwood gaps, but the real asteroid belt
seemed to be depleted in asteroids on the Jupiter-facing sides.

"Then we simulated the migration of the giant planets," Minton
said. "The perturbing effects of the migrating planets sculpted our
simulated asteroid belt. After the migration was over, our simulated
asteroid belt looked much more like the observed asteroid belt."

The UA scientists' research was funded by NASA and by the National Science Foundation.

"Our interpretation is that as Jupiter and Saturn migrated,
their orbital resonances swept through the asteroid belt, ejecting many
more asteroids than is possible with the planets in their current
orbits," Malhotra said. "And the particular pattern of missing
asteroids is characteristic of the pattern of Jupiter's and Saturn's

"Our work explains why there are fewer asteroids on the
Jupiter-facing side of the Kirkwood gaps compared to the sun-facing
side," Minton said. "The patterns of depletion are like the footprints
of wandering giant planets preserved in the asteroid belt."

Their results corroborate other lines of evidence indicating
that the giant planets - Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune - formed
in a more tightly compacted configuration, and then Jupiter moved
slightly closer to the sun, while the other giant planets moved farther
apart from each other and farther away from the sun.

Minton and Malhotra say that their result has implications for
how far and how fast the planets migrated early in solar system
history, and the possibility that planet migration perturbed asteroids
that may have contributed to a heavy bombardment of the inner solar

"Our result doesn't directly answer the question of whether
the timing of this can be tied to inner solar system heavy bombardment
- that's open for debate," Minton said. "But what it does say is that
there was an event that destabilized asteroids over a relatively short
period of time.

"All the asteroids being kicked out of the asteroid belt had
to go somewhere," he added. "The implication of this is that when all
those asteroids were getting kicked out of the main belt, they could
have become projectiles impacting the Earth and the moon, Mars, Venus
and Mercury."

US: Reason for big noise over Northern Johnston County, North Carolina unknown

Shortly after 11 a.m. The Selma News office in Kenly heard a big crashing noise that shook the office windows.

Several people in town were seen stepping outside of office buildings to see what happened.

Calls to Selma Town Hall and neighboring towns of Pine Level, and
Micro, and Wilson's Mills showed that they heard the sound too. Police
officers in several towns are checking into the noise which some say could possibly be a sonic boom, but that it had a different sound from other sonic booms they have heard.

A resident 2 miles east of Kenly towards Fremont said it shook the windows of his house.

Johnston County Emergency Services said they had received a couple call but did not know at this time what could have caused it.

If anyone has any information on the sound please contact the News office at 919-965-4343.

Finland: Meteorite Lands in Southern Savo

© Ilmatieteen laitos

fist-sized meteorite plummeted to Earth somewhere in southern Savo. At
least three cameras captured the bright streak of the space-rock making
its fiery descent over the weekend.

"The meteorite has probably fallen along the border between Kangasniemi
and Hankasalmi," says Arto Oksanen, from the astronomy organisation
Jyväskylän Sirius.

The landing site got quite a bit of snow over the weekend, which makes finding and retrieving the meteorite quite difficult.

The rock shot into Earth's atmosphere at 15.4 metres per second, but it slowed down as it approached the ground.

Both the Ursa Astornomical Association and its local affiliate
Jyväskylän Sirius are requesting that witnesses submit accounts or
pictures of the shooting star.

US: Orange County, California Residents Feel Mysterrrrrious Shakingggg!

Santa Ana - As mysteries go, it might not rank up there with "What
happened to Amelia Earhart?" or "Did Oswald act alone?" but a strange
rattling, shaking, and quaking got people in Orange County all shook up
yesterday evening...and we can tell you this much, it wasn't an Elvis
sighting either.

We are used to earthquakes in the Southland, but this was no quake either! Or a sonic boom.

Yikes! What was it?

Well, uh, we still don't know.

Dave Lopez was on the scene to investigate what made the Earth
move yesterday under his feet and everyone's else's -- around 9:15 p.m.

Windows shook, nerves were rattled, dogs barked and everyone
thought, maybe, we were getting ready for the big one. More than 70
calls were logged into 911 by frightened folks thinking someone was
breaking into their homes.

Experts still don't know what caused the shake and the shimmy.

At least, and this is the good thing, the sky did not come tumbling down.

US: Mysterious door rattling reported in county; earthquake ruled out as the cause

Santa Cruz, California - The shaking felt across the Central Coast this
morning was more than the small earthquakes near Tres Pinos and the Los
Altos Hills. Apparently a sonic boom is to blame.

The mysterious door and window rattling felt about 9:15 a.m. across Santa Cruz and Monterey counties wasn't an earthquake, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The sonic boom was so powerful that USGS seismometers on the ground picked up the movement.

A magnitude 2.0 earthquake hit about 8:40 a.m. this morning about a
mile from the Los Altos Hills. Then at 11:12 a.m. a 1.7 movement was
measured in a quarry near Portola Valley. The USGS attributed that to a
probable quarry explosion.

"Our best guess is that it was a sonic boom from a jet of the coast of Monterey Bay," said Leslie Gordon with the USGS.

Steve Bauer, a public affairs officer at Vandenberg Air Force
Base says he has no information about any activity off the coast this

"If anything like that had occurred, we would have been notified," Bauer said.

Robert Diller, who lives on Glen Haven Road in Soquel, said he
heard four loud booms this morning, first before 10 a.m. and then again
around noon, two each time in succession.

"They made our windows rattle," Diller said. "It was like a blast, it sounded like a dynamite blast almost."

Diller said he didn't feel the earth move as others have reported.

Emergency dispatchers at the county's communications center
said they too received calls this morning from concerned residents.
They chalked it up to thunder.

A 1.3 magnitude quake hit just outside Tres Pinos at 5:42 a.m. and a 1.6 magnitude at 7:52 a.m. also outside Tres Pinos.

An Aptos woman she felt "what could have been an earthquake or
sonic boom this morning - it shook our sliding glass window, loudly"
about 9:17 a.m.

"It just happened again, twice in quick succession, at about
12:20 p.m.," said Julie Drysdale. "I was outside and heard two loud
booms. My husband said the house shook quickly, like a truck hit it. Not the typical earthquake shaking, much quicker."

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel

Canada: Strange Lights in the Sky

Some people in eastern Newfoundland reported seeing strange lights in
the sky last night. A man working at St Clare's Hospital saw a bright
white flash that lit up the skyline above St John's. A woman in
Bonavista saw two bright flashes of white and purple. Another woman
driving on the Trans Canada Highway near Clarenville saw a flash of
light that she described as "like a bomb without the boom." Officials
with Environment Canada, the RCMP and even Newfoundland Power were
baffled. Clayton Power says he was working in St John's when he saw a
flash of light around 9pm. Victoria Squires from Carmanville says she
was driving through Lethbridge when something lit up the sky.

A spokesperson with Environment Canada says the
Canadian Lightning Detection Network has a detection rate for the
Avalon area of 70-90%, but if the phenomena was cloud-to-cloud or
in-cloud lightning their detection is only 5%.

Damage Control: Boom from jet likely caused mysterious shaking in Orange County

Orange county map
© Unknown

The USGS reported a 2.2 quake at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday that supposedly
shook much of Orange County. But we didn't receive any calls or emails
then. The emails didn't start until 9:15 p.m. tonight, almost 12 hours
later -- even though much of tonight's shaking came from areas depicted
in this map. Seismologist Bob Dollar called the situation "mysterious."

mysterious door and window rattling that thousands of people felt
across Orange County Tuesday night about 9:15 p.m. was likely caused by
a sonic boom produced by a high speed jet, says Bob Dollar, a
seismologist at the U.S. Geological Survey.

And, in an extraordinary odd coincidence, a similar event occurred at 9:15 a.m. today (Wednesday) in Central California. Click here to read story.

"This morning Kate Hutton (of Caltech) reviewed seismograms
from the event last night in Orange County," Dollar said in an email.
"These data are consistent with a sonic event coming onshore near Dana
Point and traveling northward inland.

"The energy traveled across our seismic sensor network
at the velocity of a compressional wave in air rather than the velocity
of a similar wave through the ground, which is""much faster. There was
no S phase.

"Additionally, the felt descriptions (doors & windows
being rattled but no building shaking) is consistent with a
compressional wave such as a sonic but with no shear wave which one
would expect in an earthquake."

The F/A 18 Super Hornet fighter jets used in Southern
California by the Navy and Marines are capable of breaking the sound
barrier and producing a sonic boom felt on the ground. The same thing
happens locally when the space shuttle lands at Edwards Air Force Base.
There are currently no shuttles in flight.

The weirdness of the event was captured by a simple message
from Sherry Jacobs of Cypress who wrote, "I felt strong rattling of my
patio door. I looked outside to check for strong winds and was
surprised to find my wind chimes still."

A reader named Jill added: "I was sitting on my bed watching
tv when my doorknob started rattling. My heart started racing because
I'm home alone with my 1 year old and I didn't know what it was. It was
more nerve-wrecking because besides the sound of the doorknob, I heard
nothing and FELT nothing. I live pretty close to John Wayne airport so
a lot of times when planes go by they rattle my windows and such so I
tend to not notice the rattling anymore. But this was definitely weird
and creeped me out pretty bad!"

Tracy Austin of Huntington Beach emailed to say, "We're fairly
used to a quake every so often, this one was very strange, our whole
house rumbled. Felt like someone was shaking our front door. Our dogs
definitely felt it coming."

Note: Sciencedude is on jury duty in
Santa Ana today. But I have temporary net access and I'm reading your
emails. I am having trouble getting quick, clear info from Camp
Pendleton about Tuesday's high explosives work. We simply don't know if
explosives were going off in the mid-area of the base, behind the
foothills, at the time of the mysterious shaking.

Comment: It
is amazing, isn't it? How, even though it is known, meteorites
exploding in the atmosphere, or crashing into the ocean also makes a
"sonic boom" reverberation and are never mentioned as a cause of these

Is it simply denial or do they know about something else but don't want you to know.

US: FAA - Central Coast sonic boom leaves no trace

Santa Cruz - The search for the cause of the sonic boom, or booms, many
Central Coast residents felt Wednesday morning looks to be a bust.

Thursday, a Federal Aviation Administration official said the
search for the source of the mysterious morning rattle has turned up

"We reviewed all the radar data for flights in the airspace in
Northern California around the time that people reported this boom,"
said Ian Gregor, FAA spokesman for the Western-Pacific Region. "There
were several military aircraft operating but they were slow. None of
these aircraft were going supersonic."

Of course, just because officials can't trace the boom
-- which was reported across the Central Coast and almost exactly 12
hours earlier in Orange County -- doesn't mean people imagined the
shaking around 9:15 a.m. Wednesday. Some reported other booms in the
hours after that.

To create a sonic boom -- shock waves that rock buildings and
produce a thunder-like crack -- a jet must travel faster than the speed
of sound, which is 767 mph.

Gregor said that because air traffic controllers handle so
much traffic it's possible a speeding jet in their midst didn't
register as unusual.

The mystery has spurred its share of conspiracy theories. On
the Sentinel Web site, readers suggested the boom was E.T.'s return, an
intercontinental missile from North Korea or test runs of new, secret
U.S. Navy jets.

"It was a chemtrail weather-modification program jet making rain for you," one poster stated.

A few suggested it was the sound of their retirement accounts crashing.

Orange County residents had similar theories after thousands of
doors and windows across that county rattled and vibrated. Some blamed
jets from nearby Camp Pendleton or suggested a passing asteroid was the source of the shaking, according to an Orange County Register story. The asteroid passed Monday night.

A U.S. Geological Survey spokesman, meanwhile, said Wednesday's shaking
was not caused by an earthquake, though several people called 911 to
report a possible rattler after the boom.

The National Weather Service, meanwhile, said there were no thunderstorms in the region.

Gregor said he doesn't know if they will ever know what caused to boom.

"Obviously something happened, but I don't know," he said.

Comment: It is utterly amazing that even with someone who is a reader of the Orange County Register
mentioning that it could have been an asteroid, none of the government,
military or scientific authorities will "go there." At least not

The fact that THE asteroid went by on Monday does not signify
that there couldn't have been other asteroid/meteors trailing along in
it's wake and it is these that were heard, and felt, exploding in the
atmosphere over the Pacific Ocean.

The fact that one sonic boom was heard on March 4th at 9:15pm and the other on March 5 at 9:15 am
is a little different, but it doesn't negate the fact that these could
have been meteorites exploding in the atmosphere.. There could have
been quite a trail of these things that either burnt up over
uninhabited places or weren't heard.

The strangest fact of all is, as mentioned above, that
government and military and scientific personnel do not want to go
there - at least publicly.

Asteroids miss us again - will the luck ever run out?

Dodged the bullet again - or rather, dodged the asteroid. It really is
time for the advanced nations to organize an anti-asteroid defense.

The asteroid - named 2009 DD45
- passed Earth early Monday (2 March 2009) 48,800 miles above Tahiti.
It measured between 69 feet and 154 feet across, about as big as the
one that crashed near Tunguska, Siberia, in 1908 and leveled 830 square
miles of forest. That's a 32-mile wide circle.

Encounters with asteroids are rare, and the bigger the
asteroid, the more rare it is. Most of our planet is open space (70
percent is ocean), so a collision with a small object is unlikely to do
much damage. Small objects explode high in the atmosphere several times
a year.

But larger objects can reach the ground. The Planetary
Society, which is beating the drums for an asteroid defense, estimates
that a "Tunguska Event" could cause at least some human casualties
roughly every 300 years. A troubling scenario.

Space-capable nations should agree to maintain suitable
rockets on standby for quick launch against intruders like 2009 DD45.
It wouldn't cost much, and might be one of those rare instances where
we can work with partners, such as Russia, on a mutually beneficial

Comment: Have a look at this footage of 2009 DD45 recorded in Canberra on 2 March 2009

US: Mysterious boom heard in southern Westchester, New York

The Journal News

Sun, 08 Mar 2009 19:08 UTC

People in Yonkers, Mount Vernon, Eastchester, Scarsdale, Tuckahoe and
Bronxville heard a loud noise they say sounded like an explosion early
yesterday morning.

But what the noise was remained a mystery.

Tuckahoe police said several residents called about the loud
noise, but that checks with the Yonkers, Eastchester and Bronxville
departments yielded no answers.

A Mount Vernon man said his clock read 12:34 a.m. when he heard the boom.

Tuckahoe resident Margaret Belles was among those who heard it.

"We don't know what it was," she said. "From my house, you know, it was definitely a loud house-shaker."

The television show Law and Order was filming a car
explosion Friday on Van Cortlandt Park Avenue in Yonkers, according to
entertainment industry Web sites, but how late they were at work was

There was no seismic activity in the region, according to the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory's Web site.

It's possible the noise was a sonic boom, but the Federal
Aviation Administration could not be reached last night. The National
Weather Service said there was no weather condition that would have
caused such a sound.

California had a similar boom mystery two days earlier. Here's the Santa Cruz Sentinel story.

Anyone with information can call The Journal News at 914-694-5077.

US - Update: Loud boom over Westchester might have been meteor

© Unknown

loud boom heard throughout southern Westchester early yesterday morning
might have been a meteor crashing through the atmosphere at thousands
of miles per hour.

What people said sounded like an explosion, thunderclap or a
sonic boom was heard around 12:24 a.m. People from Scarsdale, Mount
Vernon, Yonkers, Tuckahoe, Eastchester and Bronxville contacted The Journal News or police.

Though many people heard the window-rattling boom, solid explanations have been harder to come by.

But Liz Holland, who lives atop a ridge in Mount Kisco, said she
happened to be looking out a south window around 12:30 a.m. and saw on
the horizon a brilliant yellow object streaking through the sky in a
downward arc.

"It was pretty bright," she said. "It wasn't huge, but bigger than a shooting star, like a thick piece of string."

She said she made a wish, and had been telling friends about it since.

Bill Thys of the Rockland Astronomy Club wasn't watching the skies at the time.

"Damnit, I wish I was," he said today, adding that the description sounded like a meteor.

"Yellow's fairly typical," he said of a fireball, with different colors following in the train.

He said there was a very good chance it could account for the sonic boom because, "certainly, it was traveling fast enough."

A sonic boom occurs when a something passes above the speed of
sound - 761 mph. Thys said a meteorite's relative speed hitting Earth's
atmosphere - at that time of night with a tangential trajectory - would
have measured in the thousands of miles per hour.

If you saw anything unusual that night, please call The Journal News at 914... or e-mail tgrauel@lohud.com.

Read more about this story tomorrow in The Journal News.

US: Another mystery boom wakes people in Rockland County New York

A second loud boom may have rattled windows in parts of Rockland County
yesterday - and its origin remains as mysterious as the explosive noise
that blew through southern Westchester County over the weekend.

"It was about 5:15 a.m., and it woke up the whole house," said
Nanuet resident Keith Wallenstein. "The house was shaking. It sounded
like someone had flown an F-16 over the house."

"If it was thunder, it had to be right on the house,"
Wallenstein said. "And I know a bunch of people who heard it within 3
to 4 or 5 miles away. So I don't know if it was thunder."

Spokesmen at several Rockland police departments said they were not aware of any reports of loud booms early Monday morning.

An earlier unexplained "boom" shook homes in parts of southern
Westchester early Saturday. That noise, and the one that reportedly
woke up parts of Rockland yesterday, was unlikely to be an earthquake,
weather pattern, falling space debris or a civilian aircraft, officials
from local, state and federal agencies said yesterday.

"It's against regulations to be in supersonic speed or
subsonic speed that would create the sonic boom," said Jim Peters, a
spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. "And the only
aircraft that are really equipped to make a sonic boom or can possibly
make it are military aircraft. And I don't know what military missions,
if any, were flown over the Hudson Valley that would've created that
noise. You're looking for a needle in a haystack."

Officials at Westchester County Airport and Stewart
International Airport said they had no knowledge of aircraft from their
facilities causing the disturbance.

Officials at NASA said yesterday that they had no knowledge of
the boom nor any explanations for it. They referred calls to the U.S.
Air Force Space Command.

Calls to Space Command headquarters in Colorado seeking comment were not returned.

And no U.S. Coast Guard operations in the area could have generated such a loud noise, Petty Officer Barbara Patton said.

Andy Mussoline, a meteorologist with AccuWeather, said
thunderstorms in the Rockland County area early yesterday morning could
be a possible explanation for the reports.

However, Mussoline said, the weather during the earlier Westchester incidents was clear.

According to Lower Hudson Valley police reports and numerous callers to The Journal News,
the earlier loud boom was heard throughout parts of Yonkers,
Eastchester, Bronxville, Tuckahoe and Scarsdale at 12:24 a.m. Saturday.

Police in those communities had no new leads yesterday.

Tuckahoe police said officers went out after the reports came in, but found no obvious cause for the window-rattling noise.

Liz Holland, a Mount Kisco resident, told The Journal News
over the weekend that she saw a bright yellow object streaking through
the sky in a downward arc. Holland said "it wasn't huge, but bigger
than a shooting star."

That prompted speculation that the boom might have been caused by a meteor that sailed over the Lower Hudson Valley.

But Mark Taylor, coordinator of the planetarium at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, called the likelihood of it "very rare."

"When people say bigger, they usually mean brighter," Taylor
said. "It is possible that something in the atmosphere can do that, but
it is very rare. But her seeing it moving in a downward arc would be an
optical illusion. You would not be able to see that."

There also have been no confirmed reports of seismic activity over the weekend.

Then yesterday, Wallenstein and two other Rockland readers reported hearing a boom there.

On Wednesday, the Santa Cruz Sentinel also reported a similar noise in California's Central Valley - and another one 12 hours earlier in Orange County, Calif.

Both of the incidents remain unsolved, but officials there have discounted supersonic aircraft as the cause of the noise.

Source: The Journal News

Comment: With all of the meteor/fireball sightings there have been, and even recorded, you would think that comments like the one above:
Taylor said. "It is possible that something in the
atmosphere can do that, but it is very rare. But her seeing it moving
in a downward arc would be an optical illusion. You would not be able
to see that.
There have been a lot of "sonic booms" or "loud noises"
reported over the last couple of years, and very, very few have had
anyone even whisper that it might be a meteor exploding in the
atmosphere, or creating a sonic boom as it streaks through the skies.

However, there was this very recent article that someone did finally admit that the Hudson Valley "sonic boom" could have been a meteor.

It's as if it is forbidden to even think that meteors could be to blame for these "sonic booms". Amazing, isn't it?

Boom Goes the Meteor?

The loud boom many southern Westchester residents heard Saturday
morning might have been caused by a meteor traveling through the

Bill Thys of the Rockland Astronomy Club said there was a very
good chance a meteor could have caused the sonic boom, lohud.com

Residents from Bronxville, Yonkers and Scarsdale
reported the loud noise around 12:25 a.m. on Saturday. Some reported
seeing a yellow object streaking across the sky.

Several police departments received calls about the noise, but
they were unable to locate the source. The National Weather Service
said there were no weather conditions at the time to account for such a

A sonic boom occurs when something moves faster than the speed
of sound, which is 761 mpg. Meteors entering Earth's atmosphere
typically move at over 1,000 mph, according to Thys.

England: Mystery over ball of light

A strange ball of light has been seen in the skies above Shropshire.

The white and orange ball was seen at 10pm yesterday and people in
Shrewsbury said it appeared to drop to the ground near the Royal
Shrewsbury Hospital.

Darren Perks was driving home when he saw it and said as it fell he saw what looked like a metallic ball inside the light.

Portugal: UFO amazes an entire town

Portugal ufo
© Unknown

of the town of Campo Maior in the Alentejo region of Portugal have
reported seeing a low flying UFO that at one stage hovered just above a
resident's garden.

At 7.30pm on February the 17th an elderly woman was in her
backyard when she saw a glowing object illuminate the entire area. The
woman was alone but her daughter who lived nearby also saw the
otherworldly object.

In another part of town the same object was seen by an amazed
couple who managed to capture the event (photos at left) in spite of
their initial stunned surprised. Another witness reported seeing the
object hover above a nearby church.

Portugal ufo
© Unknown

Campo Maior is an ancient Roman site: continuing the trend of UFO sightings in areas of some historical significance.

It appears that recent photographs of UFOs have been getting clearer
and the contours of the flying craft often can be seen, in contrast to
past photo's often showing light spots. Is this part of an Alien plan
to slowly condition humans to their presence? Are visitors from space
unilaterally planning to openly announce their presence here soon
without getting consulting earthly governments?

US: Big Boom Heard in Alabama


Thu, 12 Mar 2009 21:43 UTC

News 5 has received reports from Spanish Fort to the Mississippi state
line about a big boom that shook their homes. We've done some digging,
but so far, no one has an answer for us.

The National Weather Service had no reports and suggested we check with the US Geological Survey.

The USGS is not showing any signs of seismic activity in our
area. In fact, the closest earthquake to Mobile within the past week
was 718 miles away in Sullivan, Missouri on Saturday night.

Eglin Air Force Base says they are not doing any training flights this afternoon which could've caused a sonic boom.

And both the Mobile County Sheriff's Office and EMA report nothing unusual.

But something definitely happened and it caused a lot of concern.
Especially for a West Mobile woman who says dishes fell out of her
cabinets and broke on the floor.

We'll keep looking into the mystery and let you know what we find out.

Moon hides scars of a violent past

New Scientist

Fri, 13 Mar 2009 18:24 UTC

The moon has been hiding the scars of its violent, asteroid-filled
past. Most surveys of lunar impact craters have used photos, but
Herbert Frey of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,
Maryland, wanted to know if there were any old craters buried beneath
younger ones. So he studied elevation mapping data from the Clementine
mission in the 1990s. He also used simulations to identify impact
signatures, such as a roughly circular crater with a thin crust and a
thicker rim. This approach uncovered 150 craters more than 300
kilometres wide instead of 45.

Frey is now trying to work out the age of the newly found
craters. If they are the same age as the others, this would support the
idea that asteroids bombarded the inner solar system for a particularly
intense period about 4 billion years ago. Some researchers think that
life may have existed before this bombardment, but if so, its survival
now seems less likely, says Andrew Valley of the University of
Wisconsin, Madison. "The probability that early primitive life, if it
existed, could find refuge, even in sediments beneath the ocean would
be reduced," he says.

Frey, who will present the work at the Lunar and
Planetary Science Conference in Woodlands, Texas, later this month,
expects more subtle features to be discovered when the Asian lunar
probes release further data and NASA's Lunar Rover Orbiter launches in

Canada: St. Philip's Newfoundland - Night Turns Into Day(Another Witness)

Posted: March 14, 2009

Date: March 3, 2009

Time Approx: 9:30 p.m.

I have also seen this light and since have tried to contact some
experts/researched about electricity in the atmosphere because of what
I've seen, that's what I gathered from it. No thunder. No Noise. Just a
big "bang" of light that flickered for a few seconds as lightning

I live in St.Philip's Newfoundland a couple minute
drive from St.John's. I was sitting over my dad as he was on the
computer and a window is to my right. Out of the corner of my eye I
seen a big flash of light, almost turning the outdoors into day but
with a hue of blue. Lasted only for a few seconds. I asked my father
did he see it, but he was too into the computer to even respond. So I
passed it off as maybe some lightning..as odd and random as it was.

It wasn't until the next morning when my boyfriend from
Bonavista asked me "did you see the flash of light" that I started to
get really interested. He and many others could see it as far out as
there!? Over three hour drive away. I thought that was a little

My research turned up with out answers only "assumptions" of
what it may have been. My mother reported from some co-workers that it
was a blue light/flash, there were a number of reports saying that the
blue light also faded to pink. I would love to know what it actually
was, I'm very curious about it but that is all of the info I have.

Comment: There are two previous reports of the light in the sky of March 3rd.

You can find them here and here.

Discovery nears space station as debris nears, too


astronauts raced to the international space station aboard space
shuttle Discovery on Monday, while NASA debated whether the orbiting
outpost will need to move aside to dodge part of an old Soviet

Space station astronauts had a close call last week with a
small piece of orbiting junk, and NASA said Monday that debris from a
satellite that broke apart in 1981 could come within about half a mile
of the station early Tuesday.

NASA will decide later Monday whether to fire the space station's engines to nudge the complex out of the path of the debris.

The three space station residents had to move into their emergency getaway capsule last week for about 10 minutes because another piece of space junk came too close for comfort.

NASA has moved the space station out of the way of debris eight
times in the past, most recently in August, according to NASA records.

A NASA spokesman said if the space station has to move, the
shuttle will have to adjust its course slightly to be in position for
docking on Tuesday.

The debris is from a satellite called Kosmos 1275, said NASA spokesman Bill Jeffs, who did not know the size of the piece.

Kosmos 1275 broke up somewhat mysteriously, said NASA orbital
debris scientist Mark Matney. It may have crashed with another object
that wasn't tracked and it made a cloud of 310 pieces of debris that
are slowly falling into a lower orbit, he said.

The shuttle launch Sunday followed five delays that caused
Discovery's mission to be shortened by a day and canceled a planned

After a "first, quick look," Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA's
associate administrator for space operations, said no apparent debris
came off the external fuel tank during the launch. Debris has been a
concern for NASA since a piece flew off the fuel tank and caused a
breach in the wing of Columbia in 2003, dooming the shuttle and its
seven crew members.

As insurance, Discovery's crew planned to spend a good part of
Monday examining the shuttle's thermal protection system with cameras
and sensors attached to a boom which is hooked to the shuttle's robotic

Mission managers said Sunday that despite shortening
Discovery's stay by a day, they would still be able to complete most of
the tasks planned. The canceled spacewalk chores will be tackled by the
space station crew after Discovery leaves.

"It's not a major setback to us," said Gerstenmaier. "We're able to accomplish everything we want."

That includes dropping off the space station's newest crew
member: Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who is replacing U.S.
astronaut Sandra Magnus. From Tokyo, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary
Takeo Kawamura said he was relieved by the successful launch after the

Other tasks during the 13-day mission include installing the
station's last pair of solar wings so the orbiting outpost can operate
at full power. The crew will also deliver a replacement for a broken
machine that turns urine into drinking water.

Problems with hydrogen valves kept the shuttle grounded for
weeks in February and then a hydrogen leak during fueling prevented
launch Wednesday. The valves worked as they should have and there were
no leaks during fueling Sunday.

Discovery's crew also included pilot Tony Antonelli and
astronauts Joseph Acaba, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold and John
Philips. Acaba and Arnold are former teachers.


Associated Press Writer Mike Schneider in Cape Canaveral and AP
Science Writer Seth Borenstein in Washington D.C. contributed to this

Comment: Last month we were told that two satellites collided over Siberia. A few days later, fireballs were caught on video over Texas. Now in a week time we have heard twice of astronauts having to dodge 'space junk'.

Is there something we are not being told about what is going on in our atmosphere?

Moon craters reveal history of 4 billion year old asteroid bombardment in solar system

London - A scientist is analyzing the age of craters found on the Moon
in the 1990s to find out if they are the same age as the others, which
would support the idea that asteroids bombarded the inner solar system
about 4 billion years ago.

Most surveys of lunar impact craters have used photos, but
Herbert Frey of NASAs Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt,
Maryland, wanted to know if there were any old craters buried beneath
younger ones.

So, he studied elevation mapping data from the Clementine mission in the 1990s.

He also used simulations to identify impact signatures, such as a roughly circular crater with a thin crust and a thicker rim.

This approach uncovered 150 craters more than 300 kilometres wide instead of 45.

Frey is now trying to work out the age of the newly found craters. If
they are the same age as the others, this would support the idea that
asteroids bombarded the inner solar system for a particularly intense
period about 4 billion years ago.

Some researchers think that life may have existed before this
bombardment, but if so, its survival now seems less likely, said Andrew
Valley of the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

The probability that early primitive life, if it existed,
could find refuge, even in sediments beneath the ocean would be
reduced, he added.

Other researchers, however, disagree, arguing that life could have survived the barrage of impacts deep underground.

Frey, who will present the work at the Lunar and Planetary
Science Conference in Woodlands, Texas, later this month, expects more
subtle features to be discovered when the Asian lunar probes release
further data and NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter launches in May.

Comet impacts can destroy stellar systems

Many scientists believe the dinosaurs were snuffed out by comet collision

Some stars have a high level of comet activity around them, and that
could spell doom for any life trying to take root on any local planets.
Ongoing research is trying to determine what fraction of stellar
systems may be uninhabitable due to comet impacts.

Many of our own solar system's comets are found in the Kuiper
Belt, a debris-filled disk that extends from Neptune's orbit (30 AU)
out to almost twice that distance. Other stars have been shown to have
similar debris disks.

"The debris is dust and larger fragments produced by the
break-up of comets or asteroids as they collide amongst themselves,"
says Jane Greaves of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

Roughly 20 percent of nearby sun-like stars have
debris disks that are more substantial than our Kuiper Belt, according
to data from the Spitzer space telescope. More debris means more
comets, but does this also mean more killer impacts for any Earth-like
planets that might be orbiting these stars?

The answer depends on whether there are any gas giant planets around.

Jupiter is known to shield Earth from some comets by deflecting
them out of the solar system. However, scientists showed in 2007 that
Jupiter also injects other comets into Earth-crossing orbits. In fact,
if Jupiter were Saturn's size, the number of impacts on Earth would
have been much higher.

Greaves has been modeling how comets are generally affected by
gas giants. Her early results indicate that comets will be a major
problem around a few percent of sun-like stars.

Comet sweep

Early in our solar system's history, there were plenty of
remnants left over from planet formation. All this debris led to a
heavy bombardment of comets and asteroids on the inner planets, as
evident in the crater record of the moon (on Earth, most of these scars
have eroded away with time or have disappeared due to tectonic

The number of impacts eventually tapered off around 3.8 billion years ago, 700 million years after the solar system formed.

The cause of this decrease may have been a shift in the orbits
of the gas giants that cleared away many of the comets. Jupiter and
Saturn appear to have migrated outwards, pushing out on the orbits of
Uranus and Neptune. This in turn perturbed the Kuiper Belt and ejected
many of the comets into interstellar space, Greaves says.

"This might be a very peculiar event, or it might happen in
other star systems - we don't know yet, because we have limited
information about their giant planets," she says.

Catastrophic impact

Still, our planet has not been completely immune to deadly impacts.

Many scientists believe the dinosaurs were snuffed out by a
4-20 kilometer-wide comet or asteroid that struck 65 million years ago
at a point on the Yucatan peninsula. The impact led to a global
firestorm and the eventual extinction of more than half of the planet's
life forms.

A 100-kilometer impactor would have left no survivors. Such a
"catastrophic impact" would destroy the entire crust of the Earth and
eject the atmosphere into space.

The Earth likely experienced a few of these catastrophic impacts very early on, before life as we know it had even begun.

"While 'dinosaur-killer' class impacts occur about every 100
million years [on Earth], we would be unlikely to experience another
100-km class event in the lifetime of the sun," Greaves says.

How much higher would the impact rate on a planet need to be to prevent life from ever forming?

Greaves thinks that life could not evolve on a planet where
10-100 kilometer-size impactors hit every 20 million years. This kind
of bombardment doesn't allow organisms enough time to recover between
blows. The level of biodiversity remains low, so there's less
probability that any species will survive the next devastating impact.

In previous work, Greaves and her colleagues speculated that
Tau Ceti - a nearby sun-like star that has been a favorite target of
SETI searches - is uninhabitable due to the large number of comets that
appear to be buzzing around it (although this assessment may have been
overly pessimistic, she now says).

Her team is currently looking at the general threat posed by
comets. They have modeled various representative planetary systems
(both with and without gas giants). From this, they estimate that at
least a few percent of stars are going to be too comet-stricken to be
in the running as possible hosts for life.

Small Asteroid Buzzes Earth Tonight‏

Newly-discovered asteroid 2009 FH is flying past Earth tonight only
85,000 km away. That's about twice the altitude of a geosynchronous
communications satellite. Advanced amateur astronomers in North America
can photograph the 20-meter-wide space rock racing through the
constellation Gemini after sunset on March 17th. It should be about as
bright as a 14th magnitude star. [ephemeris] [3D orbit]

US: Staten Island, New York - Mystery Noise Provokes Many Guesses, No Answers

It was the boom heard round Staten Island.

An "explosion" rattled windows and nerves in homes from Huguenot to New
Dorp last night, but the cause of the blast remained a mystery today.

About two dozen people called the Advance and dozens more
posted on silive.com in search of an answer in what had become a
guessing game late last night.

Police and firefighters responded to numerous 911 calls but came up empty.

What appears to be fact is that a loud "boom" at about 7:55 p.m. could be heard for miles.

But what was it?

Callers and posters to silive.com, the Advance's home on the Web, had their own ideas.

Which meant everything from a mortar to a meteor to a sonic boom, to an
exploding meth lab to, as authorities believe, one heck of a king-sized

"As of now we have no idea," said a police contact. "Nothing
exploded in anyone's home or anything like that, and we checked all the
power lines. ... We think it's probably fireworks."

The first of a flurry of 911 and other calls came from Clarke
Avenue in Richmond and reported there had been a massive explosion in
the neighborhood, followed by others who reported hearing the blast in
Oakwood, Bay Terrace, New Dorp, Annadale, Eltingville and Huguenot.

The FDNY's Ladder Co. 85 in New Dorp was also dispatched but
found nothing, and power company Consolidated Edison reported no
outages or transformer explosions.

That didn't stop posters at silive.com, from weighing in fast and furiously.

"If this was heard and felt across this many areas it was NOT a
firework. If it was, it was several blockbusters condensed/improvised,"
opined ITLBS1. "I would say possibly a transformer but I am sure people
would have lost power if that was the case." After nearly four hours of
speculation, the discussion had moved on to a possible sonic boom
created by a spy plane.

The last sensory mystery around these parts took nearly four years to solve.

Last month, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the city had
pinpointed the source of a maple syrup smell that had occasionally
wafted over the Island since 2005. The scent, Bloomberg said, was "the
result of the manufacturing of fragrances and food flavors" in a New
Jersey plant.

Phil Helsel is a news reporter for the Advance. He may be reached at helsel@siadvance.com.

England: Was 'burning fireball' in the sky a UFO?

Paranormal investigators are looking into reports of a mysterious UFO seen flying over Pitsea.

A woman and her son witnessed the "burning fireball" whizzing across the sky at the speed of an aeroplane.

The 40-year-old was driving in Ashlyns, Pitsea, with her son, aged 20,
when she spied the spectacle on the horizon at 8.30pm on Friday.

The woman, from Pitsea, said: "We couldn't believe it. We
actually pulled over to watch it. It seemed to be near to the Barstable
School area.

"It was like a burning fireball - a bit like a massive
firework - but it kept going up and all over the place at such great

"It definitely wasn't a firework.

"It was almost white it was burning so brightly. I'm not an
idiot, I know what I saw and it wasn't a plane or a balloon or anything
like that.

"This is the first time I've ever seen anything like this. My son and I have been talking about it ever since."

The incident comes just a few weeks after another eerie
sighting was made in South Woodham Ferrers. Witnesses reported seeing
six strange red lights hovering in the sky.

Paul Joslin, from Crays Hill, near Billericay, is a budding UFO tracker.

Together with his group, the Unknown Phenomena Investigations
Association, he looks into mysterious sightings across the district.

He said: "This sounds really interesting. We'll be looking into it.

"It could have been a UFO balloon, which people deliberately
launch to try to trick others into believing they're seeing a UFO, but
it doesn't sound like it to be honest.

"I would urge anyone else who saw it to come forward as well,
so we can get as much information as possible about what it looked

Did you see the strange lights on Friday, or have you made a UFO sighting recently? Call the Echo on 01268 469308.

Close Call: Newly Discovered Asteroid Whizzes Past Earth

Pasadena, California - Scientists say a newly discovered asteroid whizzed harmlessly past Earth on Wednesday, the second close encounter in a month.

The small space rock dubbed 2009 FH flew within 49,000 miles of the Earth's surface at 8:17 a.m. EDT.

Don Yeomans, who heads NASA's Near-Earth Object Program, says there was never any chance of an impact.

The asteroid, measuring 43 feet and 95 feet across, was spotted Monday night by the NASA-funded Catalina Sky Survey in Arizona.

An asteroid this size usually comes this close to Earth every few months.

Wednesday's flyby was farther away than another asteroid close call
earlier this month. That asteroid was about the size of one that
blasted Siberia a century ago came within 41,000 miles of Earth.

You weren't imagining things if you heard a loud boom between 2 and 3 a.m. this morning.

Dr. Gary Senn, director of the Dupont Planetarium in the Ruth Patrick
Science Education Center at USC Aiken, says it was a large meteor,
technically called a bolide.

"We've had a couple of calls this morning from people," he
said. "It seems like a few people were outside and actually saw the
thing itself. Others reported hearing the sound."

He said people have reported the sound to be like a clap of thunder. Sightings were of a large fireball in the sky.

About the same time as the boom was heard, a brief power outage
occurred at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital at 2:41 a.m.,
according to hospital officials. However, spokeswoman Deborah Humphrey
said there is no evidence it had anything to do with the boom.

"It appears to be coincidental," she said.

Dr. Senn said it's possible the meteor could have struck the
ground somewhere in the area, but it all depends on whether it exploded
upon entering the atmosphere - which could have caused the loud boom -
or whether it hit at an angle that left it intact.

If it stayed intact, he said the loud sound people heard could have been that of a sonic boom.

"It's very rare, but occasionally if a large enough bolide enters at the right angle it can create a sonic boom," he said.

Dr. Senn said sightings of large fireballs in the sky are somewhat rare, but have occurred before in the Augusta area.

He said those who saw or heard this morning's fireball are
asked to visit the Web site www.amsmeteors.org and file a fireball
sighting report. From there, the American Meteor Society will use the
information to help it determine where the meteor might have collided,
should it have survived the entry into the atmosphere. The report can
be found on the site by clicking on "fireball sightings" and then
scrolling to the bottom to the link "fireball reporting form."

Australia: Meteor theory for spectacular sky show

The source of a long trail of lights seen by many Tasmanians speeding
across the sky yesterday afternoon remained unknown last night.

Tasmania Police switchboards were inundated with phone calls
from across the state about 1.30pm -- all from people concerned about
the lights which appeared to be heading downwards as they headed south.

Police told the Sunday Tasmanian the sightings had triggered fears that a plane or a meteor was about to crash to the ground.

Some callers had thought distress flares were being let off.

Launceston Planetarium curator Martin George said last night the
descriptions he had heard sounded as if it had been a meteor burning up
after entering the Earth's atmosphere but this could not be confirmed.

Witness Debbie Gibson was at Seymour Point, just north of
Bicheno on Tasmania's East Coast, when the scorching light caught her

"We were on the beach and I looked up above the water and saw this glistening thing in the sky," she said.

"It was really bright, and had a long thin tail which trailed behind it.

"But it was the colours which were really noticeable.

"It was yellow and blue and kind of silvery at the front of the light -- it looked like it was burning.

"It was going really fast and only probably took about eight seconds to stretch over the point and out of sight.

"I have never seen anything like it."

Elsewhere around the state, people thought they were watching a disaster unfold.

Acting Sergeant Tom Burley of the police radio dispatch service said initial callers were seriously worried.

"Some people rang in saying they thought a plane had crashed," Acting Sgt Burley said.

"Others around Hobart said they thought flares had been let off over the Derwent."

Acting Sgt Burley said police received more than 20 calls from concerned residents.

"We had calls from the Bass Highway near Latrobe in the
North-West, from Bicheno on the East Coast and from south of Huonville
in the South," he said.

"And there were a lot of calls from around Hobart.

"Everyone described a bright burning light which crossed the sky in a southerly direction."

Mr George said he had not seen the light, but had made several phone calls when he was alerted to the episode.

"From what I have learned from the various reports, it seems
the most likely explanation is that it was a natural object entering
the Earth's atmosphere," Mr George said.

"For an object to be this bright, it would typically need to have the mass of a few kilograms.

"I understand it was seen for up to about nine seconds which is unusually long for a meteor, but not unknown.

"From what I have been able to determine, no man-made objects
were expected to re-enter the atmosphere so it does not appear to have
been space junk."

Mr George said meteors that were easily visible during the day were extremely rare.

"To see something as clearly as people did yesterday, a person
would have to watch the sky for several hours a day, for several
years," he said.

Mr George said if the light had been a meteor it was likely to
have either burnt up before it reached the ground or landed somewhere
in the ocean.

US: The big boom in Stamford remains a mystery (1999)

When the boom hit shortly before 10 p.m. on an autumn night a decade
ago, a security guard at First Union Bank on Main Street thought
robbers were breaking in.

The desk sergeant thought something exploded at police headquarters on Bedford Street.

Stamford Emergency Medical Service workers thought someone drove into their Strawberry Hill Avenue building.

At Curley's Diner downtown, the manager thought someone fell in the bathroom.

A woman who lived near Stamford Hospital thought her child pulled over a dresser.

They were all wrong. But to this day no one knows what caused the "Stamford Boom" of Oct. 3, 1999.

In fact, the mystery has grown.

The boom shook houses near Stamford Hospital, in Hubbard Heights and downtown -- and nowhere else.

Authorities ruled out earthquake, thunder, sonic boom, a gas, sewer or transformer explosion, construction blasting and meteors.

In the days that followed, it got weirder.

A man reported that he was walking on Compo Beach in Westport
that afternoon when he saw a "spinning wheel in the sky" over Long
Island Sound. A man on a boat off Compo Beach reported seeing a shiny
object that looked like "two wheels seemingly connected, each going in
the opposite direction" about the same time.

Later, about 4 p.m., a woman in Darien reported seeing "a
strange spinning object" with lights before it disappeared over trees.
Shortly afterward, two witnesses in Stamford reported seeing a UFO.

From Stamford, Darien and Norwalk came reports of flashing
lights in the sky about 9:45 p.m. At 9:50 p.m., houses rattled in
central Stamford, sending residents into the streets to ask each other,
"What was that?"

Lillian Lampros of Holcomb Avenue remembers opening her door and looking into the yard.

"There was no light, no smoke, nothing," Lampros said. "It was such a big boom. I called my neighbor."

They thought a transformer exploded. They didn't think UFO.

Jon Nowinski, director of Smoking Gun Research Agency, a
Westport nonprofit that investigates paranormal phenomena, said at the
time that the sound could have been caused by an aircraft -- military
or extraterrestrial -- that could accelerate straight up or at a steep
angle fast enough to break the sound barrier. Otherwise, the sonic boom
would be heard over a larger area.

"That's what struck us the most. This was isolated to a small
area of Stamford," Nowinski said this week. "Another thing is that a
sonic boom sounds almost like a rumble of thunder. People wouldn't
think twice about it. But these people were reporting something that
shocked them."

Smoking Gun researchers turned up reports of other mysterious
booms elsewhere, also about a decade ago -- December 1997 near
Springfield, Mo.; May 1998 near Los Angeles; August 1998 near
Narragansett Bay, R.I.; and January 1999 near Denver.

Another occurred this month. Residents of Staten Island, N.Y.,
heard a large boom that shook buildings at 7:55 p.m. March 16. It was
isolated to six neighborhoods. Authorities ruled out explosions,
fireworks, sonic booms, weather and earthquake.

People often think earthquakes are the cause of rumbles, but
that's unlikely in the Stamford area, where they occur once every few
years and register 2.5 magnitude at the strongest, said Won-Young Kim,
a seismologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades,

"People do feel it -- the house shakes -- but, unless the quake is very shallow, you don't hear anything," Kim said.

Meteors are another common explanation. But you'd see those,
said Andrew Ackerman, an atmospheric scientist with NASA at the Goddard
Institute for Space Studies in Manhattan.

"It looks like a missile with smoke behind it. A meteor will light up a daytime sky," Ackerman said.

It's possible UFOs exist, but aircraft that can break the sound
barrier are "entirely military now that we no longer have the Concord,"
Ackerman said. The question is "whether you can expect to get a
straight answer on the comings and goings of military aircraft. This is
why UFOlogy can be such a rich vein -- you don't know what is known
because the military can't tell you."

Nowinski said he is "a skeptic with UFOs" and he thinks "most
of the things we see can be traced to the military. They are far more
advanced than they are willing to let on."

Lampros said it's possible a UFO hovered over her home a decade ago.

"I don't disbelieve it. You just never know," she said. "But 'ET' hasn't come to my house yet."

-- Angela Carella is an assistant city editor at the Advocate.

Shuttle and space station dodge debris

piece of space junk is approaching their orbit, so the shuttle powers
the space station out of the way. Ten days ago, another piece of junk
menaced the station.

Orlando, Florida -- With his ship still docked at the International
Space Station, shuttle commander Lee Archambault fired up Discovery's
steering jets Sunday to move the linked craft into a new position that
will reduce their chances of colliding with a piece of space junk.

According to NASA, Archambault turned the station and
the shuttle 180 degrees with the shuttle leading the station as it
orbits Earth. That should increase the natural drag of the craft on the
edge of the atmosphere enough to slow them down by about a foot per
second, and lower their orbit just enough to avoid a piece of debris
threatening the station.

"Had we not taken this action, the first time of closest
approach would have been about two hours into Monday's spacewalk," NASA
said in a news release.

The debris is part of a spent Chinese satellite and is
estimated to be 4 inches across. It is in a similar altitude as
Discovery and the station but in a slightly different inclination,
meaning the debris would have crossed the shuttle-station orbit
repeatedly for several days. The maneuver eliminates that risk, NASA

This is the third time in the last few weeks that the station
has had to worry about space junk speeding around Earth on a possible
collision course. Ten days ago, before Discovery launched, the crew of
the station had to take shelter in a Russian Soyuz lifeboat capsule as
a 5-inch piece of spent rocket motor came within striking distance; it
missed. And in February, two satellites collided, creating a field of

"Space debris is becoming an ever-increasing challenge,"
flight director Kwatsi Alibaruho said Sunday evening. When it comes to
dodging junk, "it's a big deal. It's very tiring. Sometimes it's

The latest episode occurred as NASA scrambled to put together
a spacewalking repair plan for a jammed equipment platform at the space

Today, on the third and final spacewalk of Discovery's
mission, astronauts plan to return to an equipment storage shelf that
jammed and could not be deployed Saturday. The spacewalkers
accidentally had inserted a pin upside down. On Sunday, Alibaruho said
the catch for the mechanism is considerably stiffer than expected and
engineers think the upside-down pin might not be the culprit after all.

Today's spacewalkers -- former teachers Joseph Acaba and
Richard Arnold -- will use all their strength to get the shelf properly
deployed. If nothing works, the jammed platform will be tied down with
sturdier tethers.

A hastily assembled team of experts spent Saturday night and
much of Sunday trying to figure out how best to deal with the problem.

The storage platform is meant to secure big spare parts that will be needed once NASA's shuttles stop flying.

Despite the recent incidents, Discovery's astronauts said they didn't worry about space junk when they were outside.

"We have enough other risks and worries to take on as we go
outside," said Steven Swanson, who took part in the first two

While Archambault was steering the station away from danger
Sunday, other astronauts were trying to figure out what was wrong with
the water-recycling unit. The unit, designed to turn astronaut urine
and sweat into drinking water, was not working properly despite a new
part. The processor, delivered in November by the shuttle Endeavour's
crew, hasn't worked since after Christmas. Recycling urine is crucial
to NASA's long-range plans to support a full-time crew of six on the
space station, beginning this year.

Discovery will leave the station Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Meteorite hunters 'strike gold' in Sudan

© P Jenniskens/SETI Institute/NASA

Jenniskens of NASA's Ames Research Center and Muawia Shaddad of the
University of Khartoum (standing, centre) and volunteers combed the
Nubian Desert in the Sudan to find remnants of asteroid 2008 TC3. This
meteorite was found 8 December 2008 during the first of three search

Last October, astronomers found the first
asteroid on a certain collision course with Earth, observing the
4-metre-long rock as it hurtled towards the planet and then exploded in
the sky some 37 kilometres above the Nubian Desert in Sudan.

At the time it was unclear whether the blast would leave
anything but dust behind, but a team of scientists and volunteers has
managed to recover fragments of the 80-tonne asteroid, called 2008 TC3,
during several searches that began in December (see First tracked space rock recovered after impact). So far, meteorites weighing a total of about 5 kg have been found.

They will provide a crucial piece of ground truth to test how well
observations of asteroids in space match up with their actual

New Scientist talks with Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, about how the rocks were found.

How did you get started in the search?

I immediately realised if it was possible to recover some meteorites
that it would be spectacular, because we could for the first time link
a particular type of meteorite with a particular class of asteroids.

So I established contact with Dr Muawia Shaddad at the
University of Khartoum and gave him as much advice as I could on what
sort of information to collect from observers. In the days and weeks
after the event, he asked around to people who had seen the fireball
and sent me spectacular images of a big cloud of dust in the sky that
were photographed by people's cell phones just before dawn on the
morning of October 7 (see image).

It turns out thousands of people along the Nile [in northern Sudan] had
seen this because it happened just after morning prayer. And they all
described a really bright light, as if somebody just behind them had
turned on their car lights.

The pictures themselves were not immediately usable to get
information on how high in the sky the asteroid had exploded, because
there were no reference stars in the pictures. So after a while I
thought maybe I should go and visit, interview eyewitnesses, and take
some star background images from the very spots where these pictures
were taken.

[Shaddad] organised for us to travel all the way up to the
border of Egypt to interview the eyewitnesses that saw the fireball and
for a group of 45 students and staff from Khartoum to join us a few
days later to help comb the desert for meteoroids.

Once you got to the Sudan, was it clear you would find meteorites?

Initially things looked pretty bleak, because the reports we
were getting from the observers was that nothing big had came out of
the explosion. We didn't know if anything would have survived. Never
before has a meteoroid been recovered for something that exploded this
high up in the atmosphere. When it's high up it's not appreciably
slowed down by the atmosphere, and that makes the explosion very
energetic, turning most of the thing into dust.

The few scraps that come out are small pieces and they fall
very close to where the explosion happened. The big pieces just keep
going. In the end, we had to walk 29 kilometres to cover this debris

How did the search work?

On the first day, we spent most of the day driving 28
kilometres inland from the railroad to the area where the smaller
pieces would have fallen (see map). Then we basically lined up the students maybe 20 metres apart over the span of a kilometre and started to comb the desert.

We didn't quite know what to look for. Based on the spectra that were
obtained of the object in space, there was talk that the rock might
have been a C-type asteroid. C-types are linked to carbonaceous
chondrites [primitive, unaltered meteorites], so I was looking for
something dark. But I didn't know whether the crust would be
recognisable, so it was quite difficult to explain what it might look

Were the pieces hard to find?

If we didn't have so many eyes and legs to go walk the desert,
we would never have found them. [On the first survey] I walked in the
desert for three days and I didn't find a single one. We had 45 people
and only 15 meteorites were found the first time, and that was after 29
km of hiking and searching. It took a lot of patience.

Students came with various sorts of rocks, none of which were
meteorites. As the Sun was low on the horizon, yet again someone came
back and said a student had found something. I distinctly remember
thinking, "Oh no, not again", and then I was brought to the student and
he showed me this meteorite. It had a beautiful fusion crust - a nice
layer of glass - and the rock had broken so you could look inside (see
meteorite image).

It was still quite possible it was something that had lain in the
desert for a long time, but in hindsight it was indeed part of our

Very gradually we started finding bigger pieces, and at the end the pieces we were finding were chicken-egg size.

What did you find when you analysed the meteorites?

[The meteorites belong to a known type, but they are] different
from the ones that have been recovered before, in the sense that
[they're] very fragile and very dark, because there's lots of carbon.
It's material that was heated so much that part of the rock became
fluid but not the whole rock. It illustrates what happens in a certain
phase of planet evolution before things get all molten (see Magma oceans sloshed across early asteroids).

We can now say with certainty that this dark variety corresponds to
F-class asteroids. There are many ideas about how these rocks formed,
so we're hoping that this meteorite will be able to differentiate
between them. That's sort of a next step in the study.

Do you think you'll be able to recover more such meteorites in the future?

I really hope this would happen again sometime somewhere.
Asteroids of this size hit the Earth about once a year, but for
astronomers to see the object coming in, it has to move through the
area of searches [by astronomical surveys], and that's only a small
part of the sky, so we have to be lucky for this to happen. In the
future, when more [astronomical surveys] come online, maybe our chances
will improve.

Asteroid tracked from space to Earth

© Nature

meteorite from an unusually well-tracked asteroid lies in the Nubian
Desert in northern Sudan. The deep black color tells researchers that
the rock is rich in carbon.

They saw it coming, and
they got what was coming to them. For the first time, researchers not
only detected an asteroid in space, but also tracked its progress and
then collected its debris after it crashed to Earth.

The car-sized asteroid, dubbed 2008 TC3, landed in northern
Sudan on October 7, 2008, scientists report in the March 25 Nature. The
study combines for one asteroid data that are usually separate:
Comparing data from observations of the asteroid in while it was space
with analysis of its meteorite fragments on Earth will yield new
insights into asteroids, the scientists say.

Small asteroids like 2008 TC3 are fairly common, with
about one asteroid impacting Earth each year. But these small asteroids
are usually not spotted until they enter the Earth's atmosphere. "It's
like when bugs splatter on the windshield. You don't see the bug until
it's too late," says physicist and study coauthor Mark Boslough of
Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M. Bigger asteroids are
easier to spot but are much less common. "You'd see a baseball coming
towards the windshield much sooner," Boslough says. And it's hard to
detect the small asteroids because even powerful telescopes can only
scan a small portion of the sky each night.

Scientists got lucky when they spotted 2008 TC3 using the
Catalina Sky Survey telescope atop Mount Lemmon north of Tucson, Ariz.
"It just so happened that the asteroid was coming from the direction
that the telescope was pointed in," says astronomer and study coauthor
Peter Jenniskens of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif.

As 2008 TC3 hurtled through space, researchers studied the
spectra of sunlight reflected from its surface to get information about
the asteroid's mineral composition. The spectra showed that the
asteroid was likely to come from the mysterious F-class of asteroids, a
class only observed in space but not yet found as a meteorite on

Monitoring 2008 TC3's progress, researchers correctly
predicted that it would impact the Nubian Desert of northern Sudan
about 19 hours after it was first spotted. Eyewitnesses reported seeing
a fireball as the asteroid exploded over the desert.

Jenniskens and 45 students and staff from the University of
Khartoum in Sudan searched for remnants along the asteroid's projected
path. The recovery team eventually found about 47 meteorites from 2008

When the researchers got the meteorites back to the lab, they
were in for a surprise. "The recovered meteorites were unlike anything
in our collections up to that point," Jenniskens says.

Studying the ratio of oxygen isotopes revealed that the
meteorites were of the rare ureilite category. "This is the first time
that ureilites were linked to F-class asteroids," comments astronomer
David Nesvorny of the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo.
Researchers had previously thought ureilite meteorites came only from
S-class asteroids.

Following 2008 TC3 also gave the researchers the opportunity
to test their asteroid tracking devices. If a dangerously large
asteroid was on a collision course with Earth, scientists would want to
know that everything worked, Boslough says.

US: Pasco County, Florida residents report what felt like an earthquake

Hudson - The house was shaking.

Tina Newman knew what it was. An earthquake. She's been through them
before, while touring Universal Studios in California decades ago and
then again recently in Costa Rica.

This time, she was in her house on Donzi Drive in Sea Pines.
The walls, the ground, the couch she sat on. They shook. Her dog, a
Pomeranian mix named Wyly, jumped straight up. It was about 8:30
Thursday morning. The quaking lasted for about 15 seconds or so, Newman

She called her fiance, who was driving to work.

"Frank, did you feel that?" she said.

He said no and, to Newman's ire, it seemed like he didn't believe her.

So she began a quest.

"I'm not nuts," she said.

Newman knew she couldn't have been the only person in all of
Pasco County to feel it. She called the Sheriff's Office. Officers had
gotten another call about it.

"I was so happy," she said.

Newman, 66, talked to neighbors and called friends. Some of
them felt it, too. Over in Port Richey, a friend's loose change rattled
on her kitchen counter.

Then Newman's fiance called back.

"I guess he had been making fun of me," she said, validated, "and then his secretary piped up and said she felt it, too."

But what exactly caused the tremors isn't certain. The National
Weather Service station in Tampa Bay hadn't heard anything about it.
Don Blakeman, an earthquake analyst at the National Earthquake
Information Center out of Colorado, said there definitely was not an
earthquake in this part of Florida.

"Florida has the least amount of earthquakes in the United States," Blakeman said. "It almost never happens."

But he didn't deny the rumblings.

"I don't doubt they felt something," he said.

He said it was most likely an explosion or a military plane.

The Pasco County Sheriff's Office sent a bomb squad to Hudson
to investigate, but didn't find anything, said spokesman Kevin Doll.

Staff Sgt. Patrice Clarke with MacDill Air Force Base said
there are jets flying into Tampa from all over the country for a large
air show this weekend.

So that could have been it.

But people who felt the tremor - sliding glass doors rattling,
windows vibrating - said they didn't hear any sound; no sonic boom.

Newman said there is a mine close to where she lives, but she
checked it out and it isn't active. She thought it could have had
something to do with the Space Shuttle returning, but it wasn't
scheduled for Thursday. She made calls and researched online and now
she thinks what happened is this: There were some earthquakes near
Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, she said, and believes those
vibrations traveled and were felt here.

"I know what an earthquake feels like," she said, sticking firm to her story. "This old lady is NOT losing it."

Comet Chemistry Explains Tunguska event

A better understanding of the chemistry of comets may finally explain the 1908 exposion over an isolated part of Russia.

© Unknown

30 June 1908, a bolide streaked across the skies above Lake Baikal near
the border of Russia and Mongolia. Seconds later, a huge explosion
above the taiga some 600 kilometres to the northeast flattened an area
of forest the size of Luxembourg and went on to scorch trees for
hundreds of kilometres around.

The detonation took place in a more or less uninhabited part
of Russia called Tunguska but the explosion lit up skies across the
northern hemisphere for three nights, interfered with the Earth's
magnetic field and triggered strong seismic and acoustic waves that
shook the entire planet.

Despite a century of study, many aspects of the Tunguska event
are still unexplained. For example, the explosion released more energy
than a thousand Hiroshima-type atom bombs and yet left no crater. A
similar-sized object is thought to have hit North America some 12 000
years ago, triggering the megafaunal extinction and widespread cooling.
And yet the Tunguska event seems to have left our climate intact.

Now a new analysis by Edward Drobyshevski of the
Russian Academy of Sciences in St Petersburg Russia claims to have
solved these problems. Drobyshevski concludes that the object that hit in 1908 was a comet (as have many scientists before him). But unlike the others, he has been able to calculate that this comet hit the Earth's atmosphere almost at a tangent and broke apart.

The larger part of this comet skipped off the atmosphere, back into an
Earth-crossing orbit (we should expect to find it nearby, predicts
Drobyshevski).The smaller part rapidly heated up above Russia before
exploding in the atmosphere over Tunguska.

The key to why it left so little lasting damage is the nature
of the explosion, says Drobyshevski. And the key to that is our
improved understanding of the chemical make up of comets. He
says the comet would have had a high hydrogen peroxide content and this
would have dissociated explosively as it heated up to produce oxygen
and water, breaking the comet apart.
It was this explosion that devastated Tunguska.

"Significantly, the energy of the chemical explosion is substantially
lower than the kinetic energy of the body," says Drobyshevski.

This explains the comet's relatively benign affect on the
planet and solves many of mysteries associated with the event, he says.

Interesting idea - why should all cometary impacts be head on affairs? If correct, it looks like we've had a lucky escape, this time.

Reference: Tunguska-1908 and Similar Events in Light of the New Explosive Cosmogony of Minor Bodies, Link.

US: Streaking lights, explosions reported all along East Coast

Were they meteors? A comet? UFOs?

People from Maryland to Hampton Roads heard loud explosions and saw brilliant, streaking lights in the sky Sunday night.

There was no immediate explanation, the National Weather Service office
in Wakefield said. The Virginia Beach 911 center had numerous calls
waiting just before 10 p.m., a supervisor said.

The Weather Service said reports were made from Dorchester
County, Md., to the Virginia/North Carolina border. People said they
saw a streak in the sky and heard an explosion.

"It was orange, like a fireball," said Steve Wagner, who lives
in the Great Bridge area of Chesapeake and said what he saw was too
close to be a shooting star. Wagner was outside cooking with family
when he saw the streak. He said he went inside when his daughter
called, then heard an explosion that sounded like thunder.

Chris Wamsley, a meteorologist with the National Weather
Service's Wakefield office, said there could be various causes of the
explosions and lights. A team of people is looking into what happened,
he said.

Lindsey Hosek of the Great Neck area of Virginia Beach
was jogging along the water with her dog when the sky lit up, she said.

"The bright light at first terrified me because I thought
somebody was shining a light on me, and then I saw it, and I was in
complete awe because it was so beautiful," she said.

Then she saw something that looked like a comet moving low
toward the ground; it was blue in front followed by orange and appeared
to be the shape and size of a refrigerator.

"It was just so low. It was like where a bird should be," she said. "It was definitely heading downward."

She was on the phone with a friend a minute later when she heard an explosion.

Kenneth Martin of Chesapeake's South Norfolk neighborhood said he saw what appeared to be lightning, then the sky turned blue.

Then, he said, a white ball of fire shot close to the ground and appeared to burn out. He said he's sure it was a meteor.

"It was so vivid in the sky, blinking," he said. "It was the strangest thing I've ever seen."

No damage was reported, the Weather Service said.

US: Something Weird Explodes Over Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, DC, etc.

What the hell blew up in the skies over the Maryland-to-North Carolina
Atlantic coast last night? Thousands of people supposedly saw
terrifying Light Monsters floating down from the Heavens, and then
heard horrific booms and thunder and such, and ... well it almost
sounds like a summer thunderstorm, SCARY, but it is not summer, or
something? Global Warming? Let's quickly & cheaply examine the
frightful evidence.

* WAVY is investigating the loud boom and bright flash in the
sky witnessed by hundreds of thousands of people around 9:40 Sunday
night. People from Maryland to North Carolina have called 10 On Your
Side and wavy.com reporting the flash. [WAVY.com]

* Reports of a bright light and in some places, an
explosion-like sound, poured into law-enforcement offices across
eastern Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina last night. "The phone is
ringing off the hook," said meteorologist Sonia Mark at the National
Weather Service's Wakefield station. She said Suffolk police were
looking into "reports of great balls of fire landing on the ground." [Times Dispatch]

* Were they meteors? A comet? UFOs? People from Maryland to Hampton
Roads heard loud explosions and saw brilliant, streaking lights in the
sky Sunday night. There was no immediate explanation, the National
Weather Service office in Wakefield said. The Virginia Beach 911 center
had numerous calls waiting just before 10 p.m., a supervisor said. The
Weather Service said reports were made from Dorchester County, Md., to
the Virginia/North Carolina border. People said they saw a streak in
the sky and heard an explosion. [HamptonRoads.com]

* Emergency crews fanned out across the city looking for
whatever caused a loud explosion Sunday night. At around 9:45 911
dispatchers started receiving calls from people reporting a light in
the sky followed by a loud boom. Some reported that the explosion
caused their homes to shake. However, emergency crews could find no
evidence of any kind of explosion. No injuries, fires or damage were
reported. The National Weather Service had few answers. Jennifer
McNatt, a meteorologist said the service had been in touch with the
Navy, Air Force and NASA, but none of those organizations had any
unusual activity to report. [WVEC.com]

UK: Did you spot unusual lights in sky?

What were the bizarre domes of light spotted over Grimsby?

The Grimsby Telegraph has been contacted by people eager to find an answer to strange occurrences in the sky.

Two witnesses told similar stories of what they had seen - and both
discount familiar lights in the sky, such as the beam being shone from
LA's on the Riverhead, Chinese lanterns or fireworks.

Fifteen-year-old Emma Broadbent, a pupil at Hereford
School, was visiting a friend's house in Laceby, at about 7.45pm last
Monday, when she saw what she describes as a "dome" of light in the

She said: "It was very clear in the sky, and I was pointing out a star in the sky when I saw a flash.

"It was like a dome, protractor shaped, which met the horizon.
It was grey on the inside and brighter on the outside. Had I not been
looking in that direction I would have missed it.

"It seemed to cover the field behind Morrisons, just off Laceby Road, which was to my left at the time.

"We pulled over and waited for a moment. Then there was this second flash about five minutes later which covered Bradley Woods."

However, this was not Emma's first close encounter - she also
saw a strange light in the sky with her mother at Christmas time close
to the Bradley Inn.

Mum Sharon (46) said it was unlikely to be a Chinese paper
lantern, which often makes headlines as being mistaken for alien craft.

She said, "It was definitely much bigger than that. It was
salmon coloured, and at first seemed to move across the sky slowly.
Then it shot upwards into the sky and was gone within seconds!"

Meanwhile, Nige Allison (35), from Grimsby's Wybers Wood, was
driving with his four daughters, having visited his mother's house.

He said: "We were close to the Click 'Em Inn, near Brookenby,
when we saw the flashes. We don't know what time the first one was, but
the second we know was at 8.15pm, and a third at 8.17pm, because my
daughter was trying to time them, to see if it was lightning.

"My daughters are aged between six and 15. They were a bit worried at first."

Can you help?

Do you know what the mysterious flashes in the night sky were? Contact Conrad Emmett in the Grimsby Telegraph newsroom on (01472) 372236 or leave a comment on the bottom of this story.

Virginia, US: Emails about the mystery flash in the sky

Emails received to the WAVY Newsroom:

9:51 p.m. - Jamie in Virginia Beach: boom heard at 9:42 pm; shook the house

9:55 p.m. - Jim in Virginia Beach: Hello, we heard a loud boom and the ground shook
a little at about 21:48, the same noise was heard by my son's friend
who lives in Bayside. We have no clue as to the origin of the noise nor
it's damage. I pray it is not serious. Respectfully.

10:16 p.m. - Bernard in Virginia Beach: Just wanted to let you
guys know that we our house also shook. We live off of centerville in
virginia beach on the chesapeake line.

10:28 p.m. - Duane in Williamsburg: Subject- house shaking in williamsburg. I saw a flare flying through the air about
45 minutes ago. It should have landed between big bethel road and Hardy
cash drive. Maybe close to comander sheppard/simple farm road. This was
unusual. I stayed outside to listen for a noise, but on noise and
nothing else.

10:31 p.m. - Carl in Virginia Beach: IS THE WORLD ENDING???

10:41 p.m. - Kelly in Onley: I just saw the newsclip about the bright
light in the sky reported by several Hampton Roads and Williamsburg
residents. I live on the Eastern Shore of Virginia (Onley, VA) and also
witnessed the bright flashes and what appeared to be a fireball falling from the sky.
I did not feel any rumble but could see the bright light and fireball
very clearly. Since we live in the country with no street lights, I
could see it vividly across the field. I saw three bright
flashes which appeared to be lightning and then the bright fireball
appeared. As it rapidly fell, the fire grew brighter and bigger.

I have no idea what I saw, but it sure was scary. My eyes are still
hurting from the extreme bright light and I keep seeing spots. I would
really like to know what it was I saw. Thank you.

10:44 p.m. - Robert in Sunbury, NC: At 9:38 PM, I watched a meteor cross over Sunbury, NC. It was traveling from the West towards the East. My wife and our friend also saw this event. Very exciting!!!

11:01 p.m. - Alan in Hampton: At approx. 9pm I had just walked up to my kitchen sink and thought I saw lightening outside...I
said to my wife, I just saw lightening and a minute later my dog who
has a doggie doors comes in and he was spooked! He went directly
upstairs which is what he does if he hears a loud noice etc... He is
ver skiddish. I thought this was very weird then they said on the news,
we do not know what is going on but they were getting reports!

11:06 p.m. - Kel in Norfolk: My Mom & I Both heard a LOUD Bang and felt a vibration or a Shake of the ground and house.

11:08 p.m. - Lou and Bill Pollard: My husband and I both heard a very large boom accompanied by rattling windows
for about 10 seconds tonight. At first because of the wind we thought
maybe there was a weather related reason, such as thunder. Then we
guessed it might be an explosion of some sort or a crash on the highway
just outside our neighborhood.

11:09 p.m. - Diana in Virginia Beach: At around 9:45 pm I was driving, almost to my house and saw the bright streak of light.
It lit up the whole area. I thought it was just lightening because it
branched out in the sky like lightening. Then I arrived at home, put
some stuff in the house and went back out to help my roommate who was
bringing stuff into the house too and that's when we both heard the explosion, but honestly, the noise was heard about 15 minutes after I saw the streak.
In fact I had just finished telling my roommate that I saw some strange
lightening when we heard the explosion. We thought it was fireworks or
something. But the noise occurred at least 10-15 minutes after the
light. Weird!

11:10 p.m. - Richard in Virginia Beach: At some time this
evening between about 9 and 10 I was lying in bed ready to go to sleep
when I heard a loud bang and my house shook.
It felt as if a car had hit the building. I went outside to investigate
and the winds had picked up but I couldn't see anything that may have
hit the house. I went back to bed. Then, as I was turning the channel
at 11 o'clock, I heard your story about the possible meteorite this
evening. I wonder if the sound I heard was a sonic boom that shook my
house. That certainly would fit with the idea of a meteorite as it
slows down through the atmosphere. Anyway, I thought you might like to
hear my story. Have a good night.

11:12 p.m. - Mike in Chesapeake: There was a loud boom that
literally shook my house Sun evening. It reminded me of several things
including; plane crash, sound barrier broke, transformmer blew up. I
understand that the noise was heard in a broad area. I just wanted to
give my opinion. I was in the Navy, stationed abourd an Air Craft
Carrier. I have seen/heard a plane break the sound barrier very close
to the ship. So close that windows broke in other airplanes. This sound
and subsequent shaking of my house reminded me of this.

11:13 p.m. - Kristine in Newport News: I am a CNU student and
around 9:45 or so a friend and I were standing outside of our dorm and
we saw a piece of something that was lit flying not far from our building. A few minutes after we saw it, there was a faint boom in the distance.

11:14 p.m. - Peggy in Virginia Beach: We saw a bright light, like a shooting star going
across the sky, it appeared to descend into the wooded area between
laskin rd and va beach blvd, immediatly followed by a very loud boom that shook our business, quite litterly. Shortly after that, maybe 2 min, their were marine helecopters flying overhead with spotlights. strange huh?

11:16 p.m. - Sandi in Virginia Beach: I am commenting on the flash seen
in the sky, my husband and I heard a big bang and our house shook and both our computers went crazy...
all these ads and pop ups showed up and started loading web sites on
it's own! One of the computers shut down. i live in virginia Beach in
the Great neck area!

11:17 p.m. - Lisa in Virginia Beach: I live in Larkspur off
Edwin Drive in va beach near Mt. Trashmore and my mom lives 1 mile
away, both of our houses shook at the same time, it felt like a tree
had fallen on our house. I lived in Japan and it felt like a mini
earthquake with a loud boom. I hope this helps I went outside after the sound in fear my childrens room had been hit by a tree due to wind and saw a white light across the sky near the Kempsville Golf Course.

11:19 p.m. - Jamie in Virginia Beach: I live in the Chimney Hill area
of Virginia Beach and was on my deck when the yard lit up like a
lightening flash so I glance up and saw a huge fireball go from West to East, with a very long tail extending halfway across the sky. About 60 seconds later there was a boom that
rattled my house and even shook the chair I was sitting in. As a fan of
astronomy, I am thrilled to have been so lucky enough to witness this.
It was amazing!

11:19 p.m. - Hoyte in Virginia Beach: I saw the meteor. That
is exactly what it was, I have seen video of meteors caught on tape and
that is exactly what I saw. Amazingly, there was a "boom" about 1-2 minutes after the sighting. I was in my backyard at the time taking a steak off the grill. The time was approximately 9:30 pm.

11:20 p.m. - Mark in Virginia Beach: We didn't see anything, but heard
what was some sort of explosion and our house shook. Our first instinct
was that maybe a tree fell on our house, but all was fine outside. We
were waiting to hear sirens/firetrucks/etc, assuming something near our
house exploded, but never did. We were a little dumbfounded. Then the 11:00 news came on, and lo and behold, we weren't imagining things!

11:28 p.m. - April in Chesapeake: I was driving down Joliff Road in
Chesapeake and thought I had seen lightening but as I looked up, beyond
the clouds, was a bright orange sky. Then soon after, a bright white light fell down through the clouds and looked as if it was going to hit the ground. Very strange incident. I'm curious to find out what it was!

11:58 p.m. - Viewer in Corolla, NC: From Corolla about 300 ft from the
beach. Light seen shortly after 9:30 PM tonight. Looked like debris,
the kind seen on 4th of July. Felt nothing, heard nothing, just saw the bright lite which seemed to explode in the end and disappear.

12:07 a.m. - Valerie in Virginia Beach: Hi, Saw the bright flash and then felt the boom.
It shook our house. We are in the Pembroke Meadows area off of
Indpendence Bllvd. and Witchduck Rd. I called my sister who was on the
road coming back from Lusby, Maryland. There were 2 sisters, brother in
law, 3 nephews, 2 nieces and my mother on the road. They had just
gotten off the I295 bypass and gotten on I64 East heading to Norfolk.
They all said they saw a big bluish/white ball with what look like
orange sparkling in the sky heading south in front of them falling
straight ahead down the highway. Then they saw a bright flash and felt a big boom. They said a few cars swerved in front of them. They said it was going along following the highway heading south.

5:12 a.m. - Becky in Virginia Beach: The time is correct, I was in bed
watching House when the whole house shook, including my bed. It woke my
husband up who had fell asleep in his chair in the living room. The
disturbance freaked out my 16 year old son who was in his room. He said
it made his over head light shake. I do not understand why one of the
numerous security video cameras throughout Hampton Roads did not catch
this? Or, no one has came forward yet. I am waiting to see one!

6:25 a.m. - Michelle in Hampton: As I was doing dishes last night i saw the bright flash
out of my kitchen window the noise wasnt really bad all i heard was
like thunder, my initial thought was lightning and thunder then i saw
what looked like a flare gun went off so i assumed it was just a very
bright firework. The fact that it may have been a meteor is very
amazing to me!

6:31 a.m. - Laura in Hardyville, Va: Hello, I live in
Middlesex County and around 9:37 pm on Sunday March 29, 2009 my husband
and I (who were in different parts of our house) saw a bright white flash of light.
I was also on the cell phone with our daughter who was in Gloucester VA
and she saw the same thing at the same time. At first, we thought it
was a power surge or maybe a storm approaching. We really never gave it
a second thought until we heard it on your 11:00 evening news. I can't
wait to hear more about this.

6:40 a.m. - Beth in Chesapeake: My son and I were inside the
house, so we didn't see the light, but we heard it clearly in Great
Bridge of Chesapeake, as well. It sounded like a tremendous thunderclap,
so I went online to look at the radar. Seeing no clouds near us, I
immediately looked outside to see if I saw fire or smoke from an
explosion. I saw nothing unusual at that time though, so we were also

6:40 a.m. - Rashel in Virginia Beach: The walls, the floor,
and even the beds shook. I thought a tree had fallen on our home. My
son's head was propped up on his headboard and he described how the
headboard shook his head. I ran outside thinking there was a tree on
the house or something worse only to see my neighbor out doing the
same. We were scared. Thanks for covering the story.

6:51 a.m. - Jen in Deltaville: Good Morning, We too heard a loud boom
(although distant) last night around 9:30. We were lying in bed so we
did not see anything, but we definitely heard something. We live in
Deltaville, about an hour and half from your station and main viewing
areas. I was glad to hear on your morning report that others also heard
the boom. Hopefully we'll soon learn what caused this.

7:32 a.m. - Daniel in Mattaponi: I saw the light in the sky
last night, I live in King and Queen County near West Point. I thought
it was a thunderstorm! Apparently not. It probably was a relatively
large meteor burning up in the atmosphere. If so, let's be glad it wasn't a bigger one.

Comment: See also:

Something Weird Explodes Over Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, DC, Etc.

US: Streaking lights, explosions reported all along East Coast

US: Streaking lights, explosions reported all along coast

If the fireball and explosion witnessed by residents along the
mid-Atlantic coast Sunday night was a meteor, it's likely that it
survived to hit the ground, an astronomy expert says.

The explosions occurred one to two minutes after the fireball
disappeared, which means that a meteor penetrated deep into the
atmosphere, said Alan MacRobert, senior editor of Sky and Telescope magazine. That makes it more likely that meteorites survived to hit the ground, although it is not certain.

MacRobert encouraged eyewitnesses to report what they saw at American Meteor Society, or at Spaceweather.com.
Scientists can predict where to look for meteorites on the ground "if
enough people can accurately reconstruct the flight path that they saw
in the sky, or if they can simply say 'It went behind that tree,' " he

S. Kent Blackwell, an amateur astronomer, was sky-watching in Pungo when the explosion occurred around 10 p.m. Sunday.

"This brilliant green meteor was probably two or three times
brighter than the full moon," Blackwell said. "Then it turned orange
with a white core and disappeared."

One to two minutes later, a loud low-frequency noise shook houses in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.

"It was a very ominous, low-frequency rumble," said Robert Hitt,
director of the Chesapeake planetarium, who lives in the Acredale
section of Virginia Beach. "The sound was quite different from what you
hear from thunder."

Sound is quite rare with fireballs, according to a fact sheet from the American Meteor Society, but there can be two kinds. One is a sonic boom
one to two minutes after the visible light, created by fireballs
usually brighter than magnitude -8. In comparison, the meteor society
says the North Star is magnitude 2.1 and a bright Venus is -4.4. The
full moon is -12.6 and the sun is -26.7.

The other kind of sound that can accompany fireballs is called
electrophonic. It occurs at the same time as the flash is seen and may
sound like a hiss, a sizzle or popping noise.

"Often, the witness of such sounds is located near some metal
object when the fireball occurs," according to the meteor society fact
sheet. "Additionally, those with a large amount of hair seem to have a better chance of hearing these sounds."

These sounds may be radio waves, but they have not been scientifically identified, it says.

Many Hampton Roads residents heard a boom, even though they were inside
and did not see the flash. One viewer, in an online comment to the
newspaper, reported thinking a tree had hit the house. Another said
window blinds rattled with the boom.

Most reports place the fireball and noise at around 9:50 p.m.,
but one local viewer reported seeing a brilliant flash of light at 2:30
a.m. while traveling between Elizabeth City and Virginia Beach.

No meteor showers are taking place at the moment. The next one is predicted for April 21-22.

The Virginia Beach 911 center had numerous calls waiting just before 10 p.m., a supervisor said.

The National Weather Service said reports were made from Dorchester County, Maryland., to the Virginia/North Carolina border.

Chris Wamsley, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Wakefield office, said a team is looking into what happened.

Lindsey Hosek of the Great Neck area of Virginia Beach was jogging along the water with her dog when the sky lit up, she said.

"The bright light at first terrified me because I thought
somebody was shining a light on me, and then I saw it, and I was in
complete awe because it was so beautiful," she said.

Then she saw something that looked like a comet moving low
toward the ground; it was blue in front followed by orange and appeared
to be the shape and size of a refrigerator.

"It was just so low. It was like where a bird should be," she said. "It was definitely heading downward."

In an e-mail to The Pilot, a reader reported seeing
something similar at 2:30 a.m. "The sky turned brilliant blue," wrote
Bobby Smith. "I've never seen anything like it. Here's the catch: I saw it at approximately 2:30 a.m. on Sunday morning on Route 17 coming to Virginia Beach from Elizabeth City."

The American Meteor Society seeks as much information as possible about
brightness, length across the sky, color, how long it lasted, direction
of travel and position in the sky as compared to constellations or even
trees and buildings. Although the sight was unusual, the American
Meteor Society reports that thousands
of fireballs occur in Earth's atmosphere each day, many during daylight
when they cannot be easily seen, others in remote locations.

Blackwell said the meteor was moving north-northeast between the
constellations Ursa Minor and Ursa Major. "I've been observing more
than 40 years but have never seen a meteor this bright," he said. "It
was absolutely spectacular!"

Mark Ost of Pungo, who was observing with Blackwell, posted this report on spaceweather.com:
"The fireball was approximately 36 to 40 degrees above the
horizon ... Assuming the speed of sound at 600 mph, I calculated the
distance to be 20 to 30 miles away."

Blackwell suspects that meteorites, if there were any, fell into the ocean, which would be disappointing.

"Heck, I wish it had landed in my driveway!" he said.

Pilot writer Patrick Wilson contributed to this report.

US: NUFORC Advisory - Dramatic Fireball Over Eastern U. S. at 21:44 hrs (EDT) on Sunday Night, March 29, 2009

NUFORC has received a number of telephone calls, as well as written
reports, of a dramatic fireball that was seen at approximately 21:44
hrs. (EDT) on Sunday night, March 29, 2009.

One witness in South Hill, Virginia, reported having been
witness to a large fireball, its apparent size larger than the apparent
size of the full Moon, in the eastern sky, which lasted for a few

The object generated a visible tail, according to this witness.

Other reports from Indianapolis, Indiana; White Lake, North Carolina;
Virginia Beach, Virgina; and Annapolis, Maryland. I suspect that more

My first guess would be that the object may have been a
dramatic meteor, but that is pure surmise, at this point. No "terminal
burst" has been reported for the object, yet, which is somewhat unusual
for a meteor that was as dramatic as reported, based on my experience.

US: Atlantic Coast Fireball could not have been body of Russian Rocket

Last night, March 29th around 9:45 pm EDT, people along the Atlantic
coast of the USA from Maryland to North Carolina witnessed bright
lights in the sky and heard thunderous booms. It was probably a
meteoritic bolide--a random asteroid hitting Earth's atmosphere and
exploding in flight.

Another possibility is being discussed as well: A spent Russian rocket
body reentered the atmosphere on March 29th. According to data
published by US Strategic Command, the rocket reentry happened near Taiwan (24° N, 125° E) more than two hours after the Atlantic Coast event.

Stay tuned for updates and more eyewitness reports.

US: Multiple Eyewitness Reports of Fireball Sightings off Atlantic Coast

On March 29th, 2009, at approximately 9:45 pm EDT, people along the
Atlantic coast of the USA between Maryland and North Carolina witnessed
bright lights in the sky and heard thunderous rumbles. It was probably
a meteoritic fireball--a small, random asteroid entering Earth's
atmosphere and exploding. Although the event was widely seen (and even
more widely heard), it was not widely photographed. Onlookers did not
have time to grab their cameras before the meteor disappeared.

Eyewitness Accounts:

Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Comments: Mark Ost: "I am an amateur astronomer. I witnessed
the fireball last night during an observing session. At approximately
2130 I witnessed the entry and what appeared to be an explosion of the
bolide. The fireball was approximately 36 to 40 degrees above the
horizon. I know this due to my telescope alignment and familiarity with
the location of Polaris. The bolide was traveling in a north east
direction. Initially the trace was the bright green of an ionization
trail. The bolide then turned brilliant white fringed with an orange
rim. I timed the arrival of the sound to two minutes after seeing the
object explode and extinguish itself. I am located in southern Virginia
Beach, Back Bay. Assuming the speed of sound at 600 mph, I calculated
the distance to be 20 to 30 miles (direct line of sight) away. The
event was also witnessed by Kent Blackwell, a very experienced amateur

Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Comments: Kent Blackwell: "At precisely 9:50pm EDT on Sunday, March 29,
2009 Mark Ost and I were observing the night sky with our telescopes.
Suddenly, the ground lit up a bright green color. Gazing skyward we saw
what appeared to be brilliant fireball meteor. As it moved across the
sky NNE between Ursa Minor and Ursa Major it turned from a green color
to a brilliant orange, with a white core. Two and a half minutes later
we heard a low pitch rumbling sound, which was more than likely from
the bolide meteor just witnessed. Many reports have come in from the
Tidewater, Virginia area residents who also saw the meteor. I've been observing more than forty years but have never seen a meteor this bright. It was absolutely spectacular!"

Location: on the Virginia-North Carolina state line

Comments: Ryan Rhodes: "I live on the VA/NC state line 27 km from the
coast in Chesapeake, VA. I am also a JPL Solar System Ambassador. I
both heard and the felt the explosion explosion last evening. There
were many calls to a local radio morning call in show (WNIS,
Norfolk, VA:). Reports from witnesses who actually saw the object agree
that it was and object in the sky which at first appeared yellow/orange
then turned blue. It was lost from sight as it went over the southern
horizon. The sky lit up shortly thereafter in a manner best described
as a lightning flash."

Location: Norfolk, Virginia

Comments: Ryan Rhodes: "I Live in Norfolk, VA right near the
Hampton Blvd Bridge. Last night around 9:45pm I was riding my bike over
the bridge when I saw an extremely bright light flashing across the
sky. My initial thought was that it was a flare or a meteor but it was
at too low an altitude. It looked like it was right over the tree tops.
The color of the light was White Blue and it was very much thicker than
any meteor I have ever seen. The light was flashing and flickering and
then it looked like it just burned out or disappeared. It was very
strange and still has me wondering."

Location: near Hampton Roads, Virginia

Comments: Joseph M Zawodny : "Sorry no photos or video, but I
did hear it. At first it sounded like distant thunder. With essentially
clear skies that was unlikely though. Thinking about it a bit more, I
concluded it sounded more like a sonic boom - the usual double
boom-boom. With so many military aircraft in the area around Hampton
Roads VA , I thought someone got a little careless too close to land."

Location: Chespeake, Virginia

Comments: Phyllis Goldstein: "I was riding in my car on my way
to work, riding on Moses Gramby Trail in Chespeake, Virginia, in the
direction of Dominion Road when something made me turn and look over my
left shoulder. I had the radio on so I did not hear any sound. What I
saw was a rapidly expanding bright red light (fireworks red) behind
(from my perspective) a long cloud. The edges were white and the major
part of the expanding red light rose toward the sky. The time was 9:43
PM. Because the road winds, I am not completely sure of exactly what
direction I saw the light, just generally also toward the North East.
It was instantaneous, and there were no lingering lights.

"Just a few minutes earlier I had just been admiring the night when I
walked out the door at 9:30 PM Eastern Daylight Savings Time. The area
where I live is extremely light polluted, and I was really admiring the
fact that I could actually see the Big Dipper toward the North East,
and the moon was illuminated partially by Earth Shine, toward the West.
There were a few very scattered clouds toward the East. I could also
see many more stars than usual, but being en route to work, could not
admire them for long.

"My daughter also saw the explosion toward the North East, she states
she saw a dark yellow flash of light and heard a rumble, like that of
cloud to cloud lightning. I theorized it was either a meteor, or some
sort major land explosion, like that of a volcano. But there are no active volcanoes around here!!"

Location: Virginia Beach, Virginia

Comments: Stephen Spencer: "Last night my wife and I happened to be
outside when there were about three bright flashes of light that lit up
the neighborhood here in Virginia Beach. Naturally the flashes made us
look up and we saw a bright bluish ball with a firey tail streaking in
an easterly direction. A few seconds later there was a tremendous boom
and long rumble that shook the ground. I don't think it was military, I
believe it was a meteor. It scared the dickens out of our dogs one of the which is deaf."

Comment: See: Atlantic Coast Fireball could not have been body of Russian Rocket?

Incoming? Subsurface ice on Mars exposed by recent impacts

© Data: Shane Byrne; base map: MOLA team

A map of mid-northern plains on Mars shows five sites where craters have excavated ice from a shallow subsurface layer.

are the most ubiquitous geologic features in our solar system. Roughly
1600 named craters (and countless lesser pits) scar the Moon's ancient
surfaces. On Earth, where wind and water continually wear down the
land, the census of confirmed impact craters stands at just 176.

Mars, a mixed bag of ancient and modern terrains, lies
somewhere in between. Over the years spacecraft have glimpsed
ever-finer features in the Martian landscape. These days, the HiRISE
camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) can pick out
objects only 0.3 metres in size; the High Resolution Stereo Camera on
the European Space Agency's Mars Express is no slouch either, with a
ground resolution of 2 metres.

So HiRISE researchers were elated, but not particularly
surprised, to discover some small, freshly gouged craters in images
taken in 2008. Seen at five sites over a latitude range of 43° to 56°
north, the excavations are typically 3 to 6 metres across and a third
to two-thirds of a metre deep. One cluster must have appeared sometime
between June and August, and a somewhat larger pit showed up between
January and September.

© NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

sometime between January and September 2008, this fresh crater has
dredged up barely buried water ice and splashed it onto the Martian
surface. The HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter
recorded this colour close-up image on 1 November 2008. The scene is
about 30 metres across.

What did astound the team
were splashes of white seen in and around a handful of these
craterlets. Could it be water ice? Colleagues operating the
spacecraft's CRISM instrument soon confirmed, for the one case large
enough to yield a spectrum, that it was! Apparently fist-sized
impactors had punched into a layer of ice hidden by a topping of dust
about a third of a metre deep.

Disappearing act

In the months that followed, these snowy splashes gradually
faded from view. Water ice isn't stable at the craters' latitudes, so
most likely it gradually sublimated, or vaporised, into the atmosphere,
leaving behind a veneer of any dust that had been mixed with it.

The disappearing act might also be due in part to a coating of
dust blown in from the atmosphere. Either way, notes HiRISE
investigator Shane Byrne of the University of Arizona, the icy deposits
had to be at least a couple of inches (several centimetres) thick, and
they couldn't have been unearthed from more than a foot or two (0.3-0.6
m) down.

Byrne announced these findings on Friday at the Lunar and
Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas. He points out
that prior surveys, particularly one done by the neutron spectrometer
aboard NASA's Mars Odyssey orbiter, show that vast reservoirs of ice
lay barely buried across most of the planet's polar and mid-latitude

So close

But scientists are only now realising just how near the surface
the ice lies - and how easily it can be reached. When NASA's Phoenix
lander dropped onto a northern polar plain last May, its braking engine
blew off a few inches of loose dirt and revealed slabs of nearly pure

The irony in all this is that the Viking 2 lander, which
arrived in September 1976, sits just 800 km southeast of the
ice-splashed craterlet shown above, and scientists now realise that a
layer of water ice almost certainly lies not far beneath its footpads.

"It's probably just tens of centimetres down," says HiRISE
team leader Alfred McEwen. Had Viking's sampling scoop been able to dig
a little deeper, he adds, "we might have sampled ice on Mars 30 years

Courtesy of Sky and Telescope magazine

A comet may have caused widespread large mammal extinctions 12,900 years ago

The big bang theory's back. But this time the theory doesn't involve the cosmos, just a comet.

Some scientists hypothesize that relatively recently in our geological
history a comet collided with Earth. And they're not talking about the
collision 65 million years ago that did in the dinosaurs. They're
talking about a collision 12,900 years ago, which did away with woolly
mammoths, saber-tooth tigers and giant sloths, among some three dozen
large mammals.

Tuesday, at 8 p.m., PBS, Channel 2 airs Last Extinction. The hour-long NOVA-produced
program features commentary from several scientists, including Peter
Schultz, professor of geological sciences at Brown.

"This is like a CSI mystery," he says. "We're still
picking up pieces and analyzing them. We think something happened and
it's still a debate what exactly happened."

Scientists postulate that a comet struck Earth, probably in
North America. The impact would have been equivalent to several nuclear
bombs. There would have been widespread fire, the destruction of many
plants and the death of animals that lived off them. Then, scientists
say, there was a small ice age.

There's "a major climate change and some animals don't make
the change," the show reports. Humans, obviously, made the change, but
needed to bundle up. The temperature on Earth, according to geologic
records, dropped 18 degrees in two years.

The basis for the show and its theory is scientific research, coupled with scientific interpretation.

"It has generated quite a bit of controversy in the field, some
of it not necessarily polite," says David Fastovsky, a professor of
sciences at URI, who specializes in the study of dinosaur extinction.
"But that's OK."

Fastovsky is not a participant in the show. However, he is receptive to what it says.

"I don't reject the theory out of hand. As a scientist, I am interested. But I can't say the theory is without criticism."

As a basis for their theory, scientists used the Greenland ice
sheet, which the show calls "a frozen library of information of the
Earth's history." Snow captured in a glacier, scientists say, reflects
the atmospheric conditions of a given year, including temperature and
particulate matter.

And what's discovered in the ice in Greenland is also
discovered in the ground of North America, a geological layer known as
the "Black Mat." In it, scientists found iridium, an element rarely
found on earth, yet found in elevated levels in the Black Mat at some
50 sites across North America. Iridium, which is often an indicator of
meteors and comets, is the same element that was found in the
geological layer correlating with the extinction of the dinosaurs 65
million years ago.

And, more tellingly, the Black Mat also contains hexagonally
shaped microscopic diamonds, which don't occur naturally on earth,
scientists say. These diamonds are formed only by a high-pressure blast
caused by an extraterrestrial force, such as a comet collision.

"This raises the bar a bit," Schultz says. "The discovery of
hexagonal nanodiamonds softens the criticism and makes the story much
more interesting."

The comet-collision theory was first formally presented two
years ago. Before that, some scientists theorized that humans, namely
the Clovis people who used stone-tipped spears, may have hunted woolly
mammoths and other large mammals to extinction. But the Last Extinction
show dismisses that idea. The number of humans was too few and the size
of North America was too great. And the hunting theory doesn't explain
the temperature change in the earth and the sudden appearance of
iridium and nanodiamonds.

The comet-collision theory offers an explanation, but it has a shortcoming: Where's the crater?

Answering this question is Schultz's primary role in the
program. He offers two theories why there's no12,900-year-old crater on

Well, the comet could have broken up upon entering the earth's
atmosphere, Schultz says. A big comet could become millions of small
fragments, which would have relatively little impact on the Earth.

"The Earth would recover from this very easily, just a little
bit of rain and a little bit of weather and you'd lose the evidence,"
Schultz says in the program.

The second explanation Schultz offers is that the comet
collided with a glacier. The comet broke up on impact, and so did the

"You lose the evidence," Schultz says in the program. "The ice acted as this flak jacket."

All scientists aren't completely embracing either explanation, according to Fastovsky. The comet break-up theory has a weakness.

"If you destroy the comet too much, then its catastrophic
effect becomes undone," Fastovsky says. "You can't break it up too

And the glacier explanation defies science, according to Fastovsky.

"Science has to be testable. That is a fundamental criterion in
science. If this impact occurred on land, but all traces of it are
gone, then it can't be supported and it's not science."

This is not to say that Fastovsky doesn't like the comet-collision theory, just that it needs more research.

"The theory that an asteroid killed the dinosaurs was first
seen as implausible or absurd. But as time went on, the data showed the
theory was correct. So, right now we're at 'Wow, that's interesting.
Let's get more data.' "

So that's what scientists are doing, Schultz says, gathering
more data. A scientific theory, he says, must be based on indisputable
proof, not popularity.

"This isn't American Idol. This is a case of investigation."

And further investigation will take time. In the meantime,
Schultz says the scientific suspicion that a comet collided with the
Earth relatively recently should give us pause.

"If this was a comet and it was big, it would suggest we need
to worry about comets as well. Comets are like a long-distance relative
coming to your house unannounced. They are hiding out there in the
solar system."

Maybe the next time a comet makes an unwelcome visit to earth,
Schultz says, scientists may have developed some sort of defensive
response to keep it from entering our atmosphere. But right now, we
don't know when the next comet could come.

"It won't be tomorrow. But maybe that's what the dinosaurs
said the day before. This means a sudden self-awareness of the human
race. We can't control the weather on Earth or in the solar system. In
this case, it would be hard rain. Objects from space hitting the earth
I'd call hard rain."

US: Mysterious flash/boom rocks eastern seaboard, including firsthand reports

A mysterious flash of light, followed by a loud boom was reported by
thousands of people from Maryland through North Carolina, prompting
many calls to local 911 centers. The event also received massive media
attention. So far, authorities have only been able to rule out that it
wasn't a meteorological event. The following are some of the reports
that were coming into the Mutual UFO Network headquarters:

Richmond, Virginia - 9:45-10:05 p.m. -
Two witnesses observed what they described as resembling a green meteor
shoot down from the sky toward the ground. The first witness' husband
came outside to see what she was looking at. He looked in the opposite
direction from where his wife had spotted the object, but nothing was
seen. He continued to scan the night sky when he saw a bright white orb
appear in the western sky, shooting horizontally from right to left for
a couple of seconds, before vanishing.

Chesapeake, Virginia - 9:30 p.m. -
Witness observed a flash in the sky followed with a loud boom unlike
the jets they have in the area. Within a few seconds a second boom was
heard, but it was not as loud as the first. The witness indicated he
later heard several similar reports over his local television news.

Virginia Beach, Virginia - (time not provided)
- Witness was driving home when he noticed what appeared to be
lightning-like flashes in the sky above his car. He stopped the car to
get out to have a better look. The whole night sky lit up a bluish
color and he saw something burning, followed by large orange sparks
falling from behind the object's path of travel. It was followed by a
large boom, then disappeared.

Other reports from Sunday evening

Martinsburg, WV - 3/29/2009 - A hospital
employee had just stepped outside, with a co-worker, for a cigarette
break. Both noticed what looked like a "falling star". However, the
object was brilliant and illuminated the parking lot. The object was
described as having a blue/green trail following behind it. The witness
estimated the object to be the size of a small car and brilliant white
in color, with a blue "aura" around it. The witness claimed it flew
extremely close to the ground with absolutely no sound.

Chicago, Illinois - 3/29/2009 - A father
and son were driving home at approximately 11:30 p.m. (CST), when the
noticed a bright circular light in the western sky. The object had a
red pulsating light, and was not moving when first observed. They drove
to a different location to get a better look, and indicated the object
moved very little. The witness observed the light for approximately 45
minutes before it moved further west until vanishing from sight.

Unknown object lights up sky in western Canada

People across western Canada - including in Saskatoon - saw an unknown
bright object fly through the sky early Tuesday morning.

The object appeared at around 6:30 a.m., according to one
witness who was out for a jog on Saskatoon streets. He said it looked
like a "lit match" going across the sky from east to west.

Another witness, Cheryl Cook-Taylor, was on her way to work in North Battleford when she saw it.

"It kind of glowed green, and it looked like it was falling
very, very quickly," she said. "It just kind of reminded me of a
falling star or something."

Cook-Taylor said she was sorry to have missed the
meteor that made national headlines last November when it streaked
across the prairie sky, "so it's kind of neat I saw it this time. I
guess it's good to be up that early in the morning."

The object was also seen in Calgary, where witness Donna
Thompson described what she saw as "a meteor breaking up" in an e-mail
sent to the Calgary Herald.

Thompson, who said she was driving on Highway 2 southbound between Olds
and Calgary, said she saw the object at about 6:33 a.m. east of the
highway. The flash lasted for about two seconds, Thompson said in her
e-mail, before dispersing "like fireworks going off."

One account said the object was travelling roughly in a north-to-south direction east of the downtown core.

Canada: Strange object in the sky

At first he thought it was a UFO, then he thought it was a meteor, but
whatever it was Vernon Chiefmoon has never seen anything like it.

Chiefmoon was driving to work Tuesday morning around 6:30 a.m.
and caught a white flash through the sky out of the corner of his eye.

"It looked like it was heading over downtown. I wanted to take
a picture but suddenly it turned into a green fireball and suddenly
exploded into pieces and disappeared," he told Metro.

"I have never seen anything like it."

Chiefmoon said he has seen meteors and shooting stars before but this was different.

"It gave me an eerie feeling. I thought I was the only one who
seen it but the traffic on Crowchild sort of came to a halt and it
seemed everyone was watching," he added.

There has been no confirmation of what the object was at this time.

Canada: Fireball streaks across early-morning sky in Edmonton

Early risers might have seen a rainbow-like light dash across the the sky Tuesday morning.

At about 6:30 a.m., Andy Topma was parked outside his workplace at 4770
94th Ave., sipping coffee, when he noticed a bright green flash outside
his left car window.

"It was screaming along the sky," Topma said. "As it went
farther away, it actually started to change colour. It looked like it
was changing to a yellow or red or orange."

From where I was sitting, it looked like it might have hit the ground."

Although he said it only lasted about two seconds - "It happened so
fast, it was unbelievable" - he said anybody glancing in the right
direction, southeast, would have seen it.

"It was confirmed. There was a bright object, a fireball most
likely," said Frank Florian, director of space sciences at Telus World
of Science. "Unfortunately it happened early this morning, so not too
many people saw it, unlike the one that fell in Saskatchewan in
November around 5:30 p.m."

More fireballs are spotted in the spring than any other time
of year, Florian said. Although he could not pinpoint the reason, he
said the Earth might just be annually passing through an area flush
with orbiting material.

Canada: Residents in Alberta and Saskatchewan spot brilliant fireball in morning sky

Calgary - People in Alberta and Saskatchewan spotted a brilliant green fireball streak across the sky early Tuesday morning.

University of Calgary geologist Alan Hildebrand says about a dozen
witnesses have reported the sight to the Canadian Fireball Reporting

He says the meteorite, weighing between 10 and 100 kilograms, broke into pieces southeast of Calgary about 6:30 a.m. local time.

He says it likely burned up before hitting the ground.

Last November, a rare 10-tonne meteorite as bright as the sun left
thousands of pieces scattered in a farming area east of the
Saskatchewan-Alberta boundary.

Canada: Fireball leaves 'great glow' in Alberta

Some early risers in Alberta got a glimpse of a fireball streaking across the sky Tuesday morning.

University of Calgary geologist Alan Hildebrand said about a dozen
witnesses reported the sight to the Canadian Fireball Reporting Centre.

A meteor, weighing between 10 and 100 kilograms, broke into
pieces southeast of Calgary about 6:30 a.m. local time and likely
burned up before hitting the ground, said Hildebrand.

Roger Kunkel was driving from Raymond to Lethbridge just after
6:30 a.m. Tuesday when he saw a "great glow" in the sky coming from the
southeast and heading north.

"Sort of a blue and then breaking up into pieces. It was like
you could almost go out into the field and find it, it was so close. It
was a beautiful sight."

Callers who left messages on CBC Calgary's traffic
line seemed to have differing opinions on which direction the fireball
was heading.

"It kind of disintegrated. It was travelling north to south.
Very bright. I actually thought it was a plane taking off from the
airport and then bits started falling off. Really quite an amazing
sight," said one man.

Another said he saw a "flurry of meteorites flying around," travelling in a southeasterly direction.

"Pretty wonderful way to start a Tuesday morning," he said.

People also called CBC Edmonton to say they saw a fireball in the sky.

On Nov. 20, thousands of people on the Prairies spotted a
fireball that lit up the skies across Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Fragments of the huge meteorite were found near the border city of


P.F.S. said...

Today Oct 8, 2011 Meteor Shower. Nov 8, 2011 Asteriod.


This will be a very close call i pray it is only that. Discovered on December 28, 2005 by Robert McMillan of the Spacewatch Program A potentially hazardous Asteroid known as 2005 YU55.

This Asteroid some what Large 400 meter-sized type – C, will pass by the Earth right between our moon and Earth. On November 8, 2011.

The people on Earth have not seen a Asteroid of this size in advance. One this big Has not impacted Earth in over at least 4 thousand years.

Most Objects that have a diameters over 45 meters or 147.637 ft strike the Earth approximately once every thousand years or so. Lying flat everything for hundreds of miles.

Like the TUNGUSKA 1908 SIBERIA, RUSSIA CRASH OR Tunguska Explosion. This one did not even hit the Earth with its full Impact, it burst high in the air above the ground plowing it apart into many smaller parts. Making thousands of very deep holes in the Russian forests. Many of them in dense forest far from any roads or towns.

One 400 Meters 1,312.3 ft in diameter like this one YU55 weighing millions of tons would if impacted Earth on land would darken all of the Earth not for just days but much longer.

It would change the weather not seen on Earth in over thousands of years a massive climate change to say the least.

Asteroids in our Asteroid Belt that is between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars do have collisions and some do turn into meteoroids many in the past thousands of years have come into the Earth's Atmosphere. Many of thousands of them make it into Meteorites the signs are all over the Earth, craters of all sizes.

The World and NASA will watch this one very closely.
Most likely more Earthquakes and the Oceans Tide will be strongly affected just from a near miss.

The Lord’s Little Helper
Paul Felix Schott

Anonymous said...

that was great!