Wed, 01 Apr 2009 01:26 UTC
Washington - The flashing lights and booming sounds that were
attributed to a piece of orbiting space junk were not the result of a
man-made object, according to the United States Air Force.
In an e-mail sent to WTOP, Stefan Bocchino of the USAF Joint
Space Operations Center says the "bright light" seen over parts of the
East Coast Sunday night was not a result of a man-made space object.
The Joint Space Operations Center tracks more than 19,000 man-made objects in space, but no natural phenomena.
It was first believed that the lights and sounds were caused by
space junk related to the Russian rocket Soyuz docking with the
International Space Stations Saturday.
Geoff Chester, spokesman for the U.S. Naval
Observatory, was nearly sure the object was the rocket's booster tanks
for numbers of reasons. Whatever flashed through the sky followed the
exact path the space junk was traveling over the eastern seaboard.
Witnesses describe the flashes in the sky as being colored
with yellows and oranges. While fireballs usually throw sparks that
appear green followed by trains of blue and red. The loud explosion
accompanying the balls of fire in the sky also could be explained if
the object was a rocket tank with residual amounts of booster fuel.
The flashes and booms that people heard prompted calls to 911 and the National Weather Service late Sunday night.
According to WVEC.com, the calls were numerous enough for the
National Weather Service to release this statement late Sunday night:
"Numerous reports have been called in to this office and into
local law enforcement concerning what appeared to be flashes of light
in the sky over the Suffolk/Virginia Beach area. We are confident in
saying that this was not lightning...and have been in contact with
military and other government agencies to determine the cause. So
far...we have not seen or heard of any damage from this and will
continue to inquire as to the cause."
Thu, 02 Apr 2009 03:02 UTC
Keen observers of weather might have noticed something odd about the
flash of light and the subsequent loud rumble at around 10 o'clock on
Sunday night - something that might have tipped them off that it wasn't
just thunder and lightning.
A spokesman for the U.S. Naval Observatory said the official
belief now is that the brilliant flash, dimmed substantially on the
East End by the thick cloud cover, and the very loud and sustained
rumble that followed half a minute or more later were actually caused
by a large meteor, called a bolide, or fireball, streaking through the
earth's atmosphere and bursting apart.
"We were sitting watching television ... and from where I was
sitting I could see a bit of light," said Al Marino, who lives with his
wife, Eve, in the Northwest Woods section of East Hampton. "Then there
was a rumbling, not a boom at first, and then -
Like you wouldn't believe. And it went on and on. The house shook like I've never experienced."
The Marinos weren't the only ones to have noticed that the event was
something more than just thunder and lightning, even on a rainy night
that featured a smattering of both.
"That was like no lightning I've ever seen," said Michael
Agnese, who lives in Hampton Bays. Mr. Agnese was sitting in a car at
Ponquogue Beach when the flash lit up the clouds. "It was more, like,
all over, not just one spot. And the thunder was so loud I couldn't
In Sag Harbor, Dan and Teresa Loos noticed the flash and boom,
too. Ms. Loos thought it seemed odd but said her husband wrote it off
to the line of thunderstorms passing to the north at the time.
"The way the light was just didn't really seem like
lightning," Ms. Loos said. "And there was no noise," she added, for
some 30 seconds after the flash.
According to Geoff Chester, of the Naval Observatory, bolides
typically enter the atmosphere between 80 and 100 miles above the
earth, accounting for the long pause between the flash of light and the
subsequent sound associated with it. The sustained sound would likely
have been caused by the object, typically about the size of a large
suitcase or file cabinet, Mr. Chester said, breaking into pieces, with
each individual piece emitting a sonic boom as it was slowed by the
earth's atmosphere. Most "shooting stars" seen from the ground are the
result of particles smaller than a pea entering the atmosphere.
Mr. Chester said that at first his office had believed the
event was caused by a piece of a Russian rocket, which took a crew to
the International Space Station last Thursday, crashing back to earth.
But he said that space engineers now say the piece of the
rocket didn't re-enter the atmosphere until more than an hour later
than the event witnessed on the East Coast and was over the eastern
Along the Atlantic coast of Virginia and North Carolina, where the
weather was clear, the event was witnessed by hundreds of people as a
brilliantly bright shooting star arcing across the sky, fragmenting
into several pieces as it went.
Mr. Chester said that bolides are fairly common, with as many
as a dozen entering earth's atmosphere a day, but are witnessed by
people on only rare occasions. The most famous and widely witnessed
bolide event also took place in the Northeast: a 1992 meteor that
streaked across the sky from Kentucky to New York, one remnant landing
on and destroying a parked car in Peekskill. But even objects big
enough to be classified as a bolide often disintegrate before they
If there was any fragment that reached the planet surface on
Sunday, it likely landed in the ocean off North Carolina, Mr. Chester
Source: East Hampton Press
Sat, 04 Apr 2009 15:19 UTC
Thousands of people saw the Big Boom, the Big Bang, the
not-a-Russian-rocket-but-a-meteor as it blazed across the mid-Atlantic
sky on Sunday night.
But only one person has said he saw where it landed.
Joe Butler of Suffolk says he was driving south across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel when night turned briefly into day.
"The sky was light all of a sudden, like it was daytime," Butler
recalled on Friday. "There it was, coming right at my car. It was so
fast that I didn't even have time to think that I might have been in
"It shot right over my car, it went down in the water right between the two bridges."
Butler said he was near the tallest part of the bridge, near
Fisherman Island, where the northbound and southbound lanes separate
widely. The meteor, he said, splashed into the water between them.
"I was like, what in the world is going on?" Butler said. "My
daughter, she said, 'Wow, what was that, Daddy?' and I said, 'I don't
know, babe, I think that was a falling star.' "
The meteor flashed past Hampton Roads around 9:45 p.m. Sunday, briefly lighting up the landscape.
It was followed one to two minutes later by a sonic boom, which
experts said meant it had penetrated deep enough into the atmosphere to
An astronomer at the U.S. Naval Observatory identified the
object as a piece of space junk from a Russian rocket launched a few
However, on Tuesday the Joint Space Operations Center at
Vandenberg Air Force Base, which tracks 19,000 man-made pieces of space
debris, said it couldn't have been.
"The shape of it, it was just too perfect to be a piece of
junk. It looked just like a miniature comet, pretty much," he said. "It
was really, really white with blue flames. It was pretty wild."
Butler said he didn't hear the boom, only a whistling roar as
the object flew past. The wind-blown water was really choppy, he added,
but he could see the splash when it landed.
He saved the newspaper accounts for his 5-year-old daughter to read when she gets a little older.
Her main concern at the moment, he said, was whether dad had made a wish on the falling star.
Just for the record, no, he didn't.
All News Web
Sun, 05 Apr 2009 16:39 UTC
The last week has been a strange one for South Korea. Beginning on the
last day of March a series of deafening sonic booms have been heard
over the entire nation prompting many to believe they were under alien
attack. Now it appears that the deafening roars that set of car alarms
and had panicky pedestrians running for cover in sheer terror were
probably related to the North Korean satellite launch and the various
air forces monitoring the area.
None of that stopped virtually every newspaper in the country
reporting that Korea might be under UFO attack. Adding to the
strangeness of the week unusual lights or UFOs were seen over a number
of cities in the country. Internet sites crashed as people debated as
to whether South Korea was facing annihilation at the hands of ET's or
devastation as a result of North Korean missiles.
Underground nuclear tests were proposed by a few
commentators as the cause of the sound while others even suggested that
time travellers from the future may have arrived to save their
ancestors from destruction. Some talked of ancient prophecies coming to
As a doomsday mentality gripped the nation many felt
intrinsically that the world as they knew it was on the threshold of a
major change. Many local UFO research groups continue to suspect an ET
involvement in the weeks events.
Sources: Korea News, Korea Today, Asia Today, Chosun.com, Korean Economist
Comment: We here at SotT would like to propose that these sonic booms and lights in the sky could also have been meteorites.
There have been quite a few meteorites spotted world-wide in
the last year with a high percentage of these in the last few months.
Also, there have been several "sonic booms" heard, especially
in the United States, lately that have been attributed to meteorites;
and some "sonic booms" that are "unexplained" - which doesn't mean that
they were not from meteorites, it just means that nobody wanted to "go
It would seem likely, then, that the "sonic booms" heard in
South Korea could also have been caused by meteorites entering the
To read about the numerous reports on sonic booms heard around
the world, just put "sonic boom" (with quotation marks) in the search
engine at the top right of the page and it will bring up quite a number
of them. Also, you may want to search the word "explosion" (without the
quotation marks) to bring up a few more.
With the world's people in a shocked and chaotic mentally,
brought about purposefully by the psychopaths who are running it, how
easy it will be to get them to believe that an incoming comet/meteor is
a missile shot by whomever the psychopaths want the people to believe
Sun, 05 Apr 2009 04:13 UTC
Planetary scientists are all set to turn noise from the data obtained
by NASA/ESA LISA satellites' mission into useful information about the
mass of near-Earth asteroids.
LISA is on a mission to detect gravitational waves - a warping
of the space/time continuum that scientists hope to see directly for
the first time.
Slated for launch no earlier than 2018, LISA will include
three satellites connected by laser beams. The distance between the
satellites should change as a gravitational wave passes.
Einstein's General Theory of Relativity predicts that
gravitational waves from exploding stars or colliding black holes
ripple across the universe, causing other bodies to wobble like
driftwood in a motorboat's wake.
In 2006, planetary scientists realized that Near Earth
Asteroids (NEAs) also would make the spacecraft wobble as they passed
nearby, creating a distinct signature in the data being collected.
Pasquale Tricarico, a scientist at the Tucson-based Planetary
Science Institute, expanded on that work to predict the number of
asteroid encounters LISA can expect and how those encounters can be
used to determine the mass of passing asteroids.
According to Tricarico, LISA can expect to see one or two
known near-Earth asteroids a year, and a total of around ten during the
expected mission lifetime.
When an encounter with a known asteroid shows up in the data, scientists will already know its trajectory.
"So from the signal, we can indirectly measure the asteroid's
mass because that's the only uncertainty in the equation," Tricarico
"These mass measurements are important because we only know
the mass of asteroids that have been visited by spacecraft or the mass
of a few binary asteroids observed from Earth," he added.
"We always wonder about the porosity, the density, and this will give us measurements from additional asteroids," he explained.
If a known asteroid passes one of the satellites and doesn't
leave a signature, "that allows us to put an upper limit on the mass of
that asteroid," Tricarico added.
Tricarico also has predicted the number of potential encounters with smaller, unknown NEAs.
If LISA starts detecting five asteroids a year instead of two
or three, this could modify theories concerning the distribution of
sizes in the NEA population.
Mon, 06 Apr 2009 09:18 UTC
Security cameras in Northern Ireland may shed some light on the cause of a massive fireball in the sky on Sunday.
The shooting star was reported at about 1230 BST by people living as far apart as Donegal and Cork.
David Moore chairman of Astronomy Ireland said they were
fairly certain it was a rock from space which could have landed
somewhere in Ireland.
He said they were very keen to hear from anyone who has footage of what is suspected to be a meteor falling.
"We're fairly certain that it was a rock from space, a meteor which may have dropped a meteorite," he said.
"We are asking people to send in their reports, so we can triangulate on the path and figure out did it land on Ireland?"
The last time a meteorite was seen over Ireland was in 1999 over Carlow
and there was a similar event over the skies of Northern Ireland 30
Mr Moore said that no pictures had yet come to light of the incident, as it only lasted a few seconds.
But, he said, security cameras often captured such explosions in the sky.
"What can happen is security cameras that are filming in car
parks or outdoors can catch these shooting stars, these fireballs,
accidentally. So if anybody has any footage of that, we would be
delighted to see it.
"We think...it came from the west across the centre of
Ireland, which means everybody would have seen it. We have reports from
Cork and even from up as far as Donegal."
He said security cameras in Northern Ireland facing towards the south probably would have picked it up.
Anyone who saw it is asked to contact the Astronomy Ireland website on www.astronomy.ie.
"We will publish a report there in a few days," said Mr Moore.
"We will also predict where any meteorite might have fallen, as
we did with Carlow in 1999. A lady found the meteorite in a small
"They will look like melted rocks, probably not very large. We
are looking for objects that would fit, in that particular case, in a
mug. But they could be larger."
HBCC UFO Research
Sun, 05 Apr 2009 16:45 UTC
Posted: April 5, 2009
Date: March 28, 2009
Time: Approx: 10:50 p.m.
Full Description of Event/Sighting: I am
one of the sceptics who was inquisitive enough to Google next day to
see if there was any reportings. Amazingly, almost identical report
from Cleland which had been sited earlier in month, only this time we
saw it from north of the village. Orange, round, firey then burning out
to ash colour with smoke trail and again travelling quickly towards
Chapelhall, as previous witness reported.
By the end of the sighting, approx 3/4 mins we went
from inside house to garden, expecting to hear a bang or whatever?
Again I am/was a non believer.
primary job is to quickly alert astronomers about new gamma-ray bursts
- powerful explosions from distant dying stars. "But Swift's rapid
response and flexibility allow us to perform other science while the
spacecraft is waiting for gamma-ray bursts to occur," said presenter
Geronimo Villanueva, a planetary scientist at NASA's Goddard Space
Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.
From its orbital perch, Swift can view targets using ultraviolet
wavelengths, visible light, and X rays -- and it's the only observatory
that sees them at the same time. Between bursts, astronomers task Swift
to survey the entire sky at X-ray wavelengths, monitor exploding stars,
image galaxies, and study comets.
Comets are clumps of frozen gases mixed with dust sometimes called
"dirty snowballs." These icy bodies cast off gas and dust whenever they
venture near the sun. Most recently, Swift observed Comet Lulin as part
of a study led by Jenny Carter at the University of Leicester, U.K.
Lulin was faintly visible to the naked eye when it passed 38 million
miles from Earth --- or about 160 times farther than the moon - in late
Other comets captured by Swift include
73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 (SW3) -- a fragmenting comet that passed
Earth in 2006 -- and 8P/Tuttle, which rounded the sun in January 2008.
"One of my projects is to work out the composition of Tuttle by
studying the gases that surround it," Villanueva said. Swift's
Ultraviolet/Optical Telescope includes a device called a grism that can
separate wavelengths in ultraviolet light in much the same way as a
prism spreads sunlight into colors. "Swift's grism covers a 'sweet
spot' where many key comet gases strongly emit."
Swift also detects X rays from comets. The X rays arise through a
process called charge exchange, as fast-moving ions emitted by the sun
snatch electrons from neutral comet gases. Because this interaction
occurs over such a large region, cometary X-ray emission can reach
powers as high as a billion watts.
Comets provide excellent laboratories to explore this process, which
may play an important role in young planetary systems and other places
where hot and cold gases collide. Cometary X rays also serve as a way
to probe conditions in solar ions streaming through the solar system
(the solar wind).
Comet Lulin provides the best example of cometary X rays Swift
has seen so far. "Lulin produced a lot of gas and very little dust,
which reflects sunlight and makes comets much brighter," said team
member Stefan Immler, also at Goddard. This low dust content made Lulin
faint enough that Swift could simultaneously image the comet in
ultraviolet and X rays.
"The problem with many comets is that we often cannot use all of
Swift's instruments because they are simply too bright," Villanueva
explained. Comet 17P/Holmes, which underwent a surprising outburst in
October 2007, shed a lot of dust. "But we never detected X rays from
Holmes, and it was too bright to study its ultraviolet spectrum."
Neither SW3 nor Tuttle could be imaged in X rays with Swift, although
NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory detected both comets. They each
produced much less water than Comet Lulin, which was gushing out nearly
800 gallons of water a second when Swift observed it.
"Someone calculated that's equivalent to $17,000 of bottled water each second," Villanueva added, smiling.
Pittsburgh UFO Examiner
Tue, 07 Apr 2009 16:27 UTC
Plevna, Montana - 4/6/2009
- A fireball was observed streaking at a steep angle towards the earth,
approximately two miles south of Plevna. The object appeared to be a
brilliant fireball, with a streak of fire trailing behind it. The
object was observed for one-to-two minutes, dimmed in intensity,
growing brighter, then dim again before disappearing over the horizon.
What is unusual about this sighting is what happened next. The object suddenly reappeared, and shot back up into the sky, following the same path as when it had descended. Witnesses reported that the object was traveling at a high rate of speed in both directions.
Englewood, Colorado - 4/6/2009
- Witness was driving during the late afternoon when he noticed an
approaching disc-shaped object in the sky. The object appeared to
alternate in shape, and seemed to be drifting with, or coasting on, the
wind. The witness further described the object as having a metallic
outer shell, gun-gray in color, but not shiny. The object further
seemed to change color as it rose and fell while continuing a
south-southwest path until finally disappearing from sight.
Tue, 07 Apr 2009 11:31 UTC
A "unique" micrometeorite found in Antarctica is challenging ideas about how planets can form.
Detailed analysis has shown that the sample, known as MM40, has a
chemical composition unlike any other fragment of fallen space rock.
This, say experts, raises questions about where it originated in the Solar System and how it was created.
It also means that astrochemists must expand their list of the combinations of materials in planetary crusts.
The detailed analysis of MM04 was led by Matthieu Gounelle from the
Laboratory of Mineralogy and Cosmochemistry at the French Natural
Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
(PNAS), the analysis revealed the "unique" chemical composition of MM04
despite it being only 150 microns across as its widest point - about
half the width of a written full stop.
Dr Caroline Smith, curator of meteorites at the Natural
History Museum, London, UK, said the sample was important because of
the role that the study of meteorites played in our understanding of
Solar System and planetary formation.
MM04 was a basaltic achondritic micrometeorite, said Dr Smith.
Achondritic meteorites were formed when the Solar System's
planets were coming into being. The substances in such meteorites and
the processes they have undergone can give clues about how the larger
bodies were formed.
By contrast, chondritic meteorites were formed during the the
Solar System's early days before material had accreted into planets.
They have not been altered by the melting and re-crystalisation that
has utterly transformed the nature of, say, Earth rocks.
Dr Mahesh Anand, an astrochemist from the department of Earth
& Environmental Sciences at the Open University, said: "It is
fascinating as to how much information can be retrieved about the
processes involved in planetary formation from tiny fragments of
extra-terrestrial material that routinely arrive on Earth anonymously."
For Dr Smith, the excitement of MM04 lay in the mystery of its origins.
"We have basaltic meteorites that are thought to come from an
asteroid called 4 Vesta and we also have basaltic meteorites from the
Moon and Mars," said Dr Smith.
"But [MM04's] chemistry does not match any of those places," she said. "It has to be from somewhere else."
While its ultimate origins are a mystery it does have
implications for the ways that astrochemists thought planets could be
formed. The analysis of MM04 showed that the "inventory" of such
processes must be expanded, said Dr Smith.
"Micrometeorites are often seen as the 'poor man's space
probe'," said Dr Smith "They land on Earth fortuitously and we do not
have to spend millions of dollars or euros on a robotic mission to get
First Coast News
Wed, 08 Apr 2009 16:43 UTC
Jacksonville, Florida - A number of First Coast News viewers say they saw something spectacular in the sky Tuesday night.
"An asteroid just went blazing through our backyard in Neptune Beach,"
wrote Ralph. "It was low and had a long fire tail. [It] looked like it
was going to hit a house."
Julia in St. Augustine saw something similar over State Road 206.
"It looked like a fire ball, which was flying through the sky,
then suddenly, it exploded into smaller rocks," wrote Julia. "The
smaller fragments may have landed somewhere west of Crescent Beach.
Once in a lifetime sight!"
People in Middleburg saw it as well.
very large and very low," said Christean Ramage. "It was trailing fire
behind it and was white hot in the front. After watching it for about 5
seconds, it evaporated and disappeared before my eyes. I have never
heard or seen of one so low and large, so at first I thought it was a
bomb or missile (especially after all of this North Korean news)."
Cindy Hawkins just pulled into the driveway of her Middleburg home with her children.
"I looked up and saw the light blueish green darting across the
sky," she said. "I told my kids it was a shooting star, ( I had never
seen one before), and we better make a wish; so much for my wish for
Korean Discovers Comet for First Time
The Korea Times
Wed, 08 Apr 2009 17:27 UTC
An amateur stargazer has discovered a new comet, becoming the first South Korean to do so, science authorities said Wednesday.
Yi Dae-am, who heads the Yongwol Insectarium in Gangwon Province, found
the comet, named as Yi-SWAN C/2009 F6, using a 90 millimeter telescope
and a digital camera on March 26.
Yi discovered the comet almost simultaneously with American
astronomer Robert Mason, who found the comet in pictures taken from the
SWAN (Solar Wind ANisotropies) solar observation instrument on the
Solar Heliospheric Observatory spacecraft from March 29 to April 4.
The International Astronomical Union (IAU) gave credit to both men in naming the comet Yi-SWAN.
Aside of running the insect museum, Yi is an also a part-time
astronomer who has a personal observatory in the slopes of Mt. Taehwa,
''Yi found the comet in two pictures he took from his SLR
digital camera and telescope around 5 a.m., locating a bright, blue
green celestial object. The finding was immediately reported to the
IAU, which confirmed they were images of a previously unidentified
comet,'' said an official from the Korea Astronomy and Space Science
''Yi, becoming the first Korean to discover a comet,
represents the growth in the country's astronomer population, amateur
or professional, and will hopefully contribute in increasing public
Yi-SWAN is one of more brightest comets found at present, with a magnitude of 8.5 allowing it to be seen by small telescopes. The comet is currently in the constellation Cassiopeia, but is expected to move to Perseus by the middle of this month.
The comet is expected to move within 1.27 astronomical units of
the sun around May 8, the closest it will ever get, and its brightness
is not expected to change from its current 8.5 magnitude, scientists
England: Did you see a meteor?
Rutland & Stamford Mercury
Wed, 08 Apr 2009 17:33 UTC
A meteor has been spotted above Rutland.
Andrew Shirley, of Willow Close in Uppingham, spotted the bright light above the town on Sunday at about 8.10pm.
Back in October there were other reports of a similar sighting over the town.
Did you see Sunday's meteor? Contact the newsdesk on 01572 758888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Comment: There was also a fireball seen in Ireland on Sunday at 1230 BST.
José A. Martínez
Tue, 07 Apr 2009 13:43 UTC
At 6:45 a.m., employees of the Public Buildings Authority (Autoridad de
Edificios Públicos--A.E.P.) witnessed a luminous object crossing the
horizon from West to East along the southern shore between Lajas and
Guánica. According to the workers, the brilliant object resembled
"acetylene light". Upon reaching a certain distance, the object
shattered in two and fell into the sea. We cannot dismiss the
possibility of an aerolith that broke up after reaching a certain
altitude, being subjected to drastic temperature changes that resulted
in a mid-air explosion.
I will continue looking into this matter with other
potential witnesses to the case. Meanwhile, I have already contacted
the Puerto Rican Police's Joint Rapid Response Force (Fuerza Unida de
Rapida Reaccion - F.U.R.A) to see if they have any details on the case.
More information to come.
Comment: For those who are unfamiliar with the term "aerolith", it is a meteorite consisting mainly of stony matter.
HBCC UFO Research
Mon, 13 Apr 2009 16:06 UTC
Posted: April 13, 2009
Date: March 22, 2009
Time: 1:12 a.m.
Number of witnesses: 2
Number of objects: 2
Shape of objects: Fireball oval looking glowing shape constantly orange
Weather Conditions: Prior to rain
Description: Bronson and Chad. We were
walking over Chevron Island, which is located in Goldcoast Q.L.D.
Australia. We suddenly saw a fireball oval shape moving smoothly and
rapidly but slow enough to have a very good look at. One travelled
north until out of sight, straight after another followed and
disappeared above us. It was the most amazing thing we have ever seen
and it has changed our lives forever. For everybody else who saw this
incident please email email@example.com
E-mail address left in at request of witness.
A. Drew Muscente
Cornell Daily Sun
Wed, 15 Apr 2009 22:36 UTC
On Feb. 28, sky-watchers at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia
sighted an unexpected guest: an asteroid heading directly toward the
Earth. From the uncharted reaches of space, the asteroid zoomed toward
the planet at 12 miles per second, forcing physicists to scramble for
their calculators and crunch the numbers. Within minutes, the
astronomers calculated the asteroid's size, mass, speed and vector.
At approximately 69 ft. to 154 ft. in diameter, Asteroid 2009
DD45 posed a serious threat to the planet, and despite global
surveillance, no one saw it coming. A similar asteroid destroyed 800
square miles of Siberian forest in the early twentieth century.
In response to similar near-Earth encounters, Congress is
currently investigating the possibility of a new mandate that would
require astronomers to identify and analyze all 140 meter near-Earth
objects by 2020. The most recent Congressional mandate required
astronomers to identify all 1000 meter near-Earth objects by 2012.
"In the future, we're going to have hundreds of thousands to
look at, but only thousands will be threatening," explained Prof.
Joseph Burns, planetary sciences.
According to Burns, in past years, similar asteroids
repeatedly passed near the planet, but due to the development of modern
surveying technology, scientists and politicians express increasing
desire to identify possible threats.
"We have an incomplete sample of everything out
there," he said. "What we're doing now is building a couple of large
As Burns described, astronomers rely on two methods of
surveillance: telescopes and spacecraft. Though costly, Burns
explained, spacecraft surveillance provides indispensible accuracy and
For instance, in conjunction with the Cassini Imaging Science
Subsystem at NASA, Burns studies the characteristics of Saturn's rings.
Since 2004, the unmanned spacecraft Cassini has orbited the giant
planet, taking detailed images of the rings and the stars. In that
time, the images revealed the movement of the ring as Saturn rotates on
Last week, the position of Cassini, the sun, and the ring
created a surprising image, showing that the outer layer of an inner
ring forms an unexplained curve. Scientists believe the rings possess a
consistent thickness of 10 meters, but these new images indicate an
unexplained characteristic. With future images and research, Burns
hopes to account for this fact.
"It's like looking at a sunset," he described. "The sun casts a shadow that reveals the vertical undulations of the ring."
Due to Cassini's optimal placement in orbit, the team surveyed an ambiguous structure.
However, due to the financial and technical limitations of
space travel, astronomers rely upon optical, infrared, and radio
telescopes to identify near-Earth objects.
"Short of spaceships, telescopes are the only way to get
information," explained Prof. Donald Campbell, radio and radar
astronomy. Campbell is director of the Cornell's National Astronomy and
Ionosphere Center, which operates the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto
"It's the world's most powerful radar," he said. "Optical
telescopes cannot resolve these objects. It's used for radio
The Arecibo telescope possesses a diameter of 305 meters and a
depth of 51 meters, covering an area of 18 acres. Comprised of aluminum
plates, the telescope sends pulses of energy in the form of radio
wavelengths into space, detecting variations in spatial impact. These
variations allow astronomer to construct multi-dimensional models of
"We can measure the speed and velocity with great precision,
which allows us to predict the orbit into the future," he explained.
"We can also make images of the object. It allows us a much greater
understanding of the object."
In 2007, as the National Science Foundation threatened to
limit funding to Arecibo, Campbell testified before Congress, relating
Arecibo's continued importance toward identifying near-Earth objects.
"What they wanted to do was to reduce the cost, the level of
funding," he explained. "Arecibo is by far the best instrument on the
planet to study near-Earth asteroids. If we lost funding it would be a
tremendous loss for asteroid science."
In recent years, global efforts have pushed to construct new telescopes, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.
"There's a lot of activity going on in the area," Campbell affirmed.
Fri, 17 Apr 2009 21:33 UTC
If an asteroid is on a collision course with Earth, the best way to
avoid a global catastrophe could be to attach a long tether with a
weight at the end to deflect its orbit, a U.S. scientist has suggested.
David French, a doctoral candidate in aerospace engineering at
North Carolina State University, said that by attaching ballast and a
tether to asteroids "you change the object's center of mass,
effectively changing the object's orbit and allowing it to pass by the
Earth, rather than impacting it."
NASA has identified over 1,000 of potentially dangerous objects nearing the Earth, and the number is growing.
"While none of these objects is currently projected to hit Earth in the
near future, slight changes in the orbits of these bodies, which could
be caused by the gravitational pull of other objects, push from the
solar wind, or some other effect could cause an intersection," French
French said that while his solution sounds far-fetched, it
compares favorably with other methods, which include painting the
asteroid to change the effect sunlight has on its orbit or using
Thu, 16 Apr 2009 17:10 UTC
odds of encountering a tsunami kicked up by an asteroid strike have
just plummeted. Best to hope, though, that you're not underneath the
almighty splash such an impact could create.
Small impactors hit us far more frequently than larger ones: a
200-metre asteroid hits Earth about every 10,000 years on average,
while 10-kilometre objects like the one that probably killed off the
dinosaurs strike every 100 million years. Much of the worry over
asteroids has centred on the more likely event of a smaller one
splashing down in the ocean and triggering a powerful tsunami.
Now simulations to be presented at an asteroid hazard
conference in Granada, Spain, this month suggest that small asteroids
do not after all pose a major tsunami threat.
Comment: Asteroids that do not strike in the ocean pose a different kind of threat.
Galen Gisler of the University of Oslo, Norway,
and colleagues used software originally written to simulate the effects
of underwater nuclear explosions to hurl a virtual 200-metre asteroid
into an ocean 5 kilometres deep. The impact initially sends waves
hundreds of metres high spreading from the impact site. However, the
very height of the waves makes them prone to collapse even in very deep
water: they start breaking immediately, like ordinary waves on a beach.
By the time they are 30 kilometres from the impact site, they
have shrunk to a height of less than 60 metres. The team did not
simulate the waves' propagation much further, but extrapolating the
shrinkage suggests heights of less than 10 metres by the time they have
travelled 1000 kilometres.
That might not seem very reassuring. Tsunamis with open ocean heights
of less than a metre can still be very damaging because they rise up as
they come ashore and penetrate far inland, but this is related to their
long wavelengths and characteristic periods of 8 minutes or more.
Asteroid waves would have shorter wavelengths and periods of less than
2 minutes, says Gisler, and so far less penetrating power.
Steven Ward of the University of California, Santa Cruz, has
conducted his own simulations and suspects methods in Gisler's
calculations meant to smooth away errors are accidentally damping down
the waves. Ward's own results suggest much slower wave decay. Gisler
responds that his simulations are more realistic, pointing out that
previous modelling leaves out fine-scale turbulent motion that helps
dissipate wave energy.
A strike near a populated coastline would undoubtedly cause
major damage, however. "You don't want to be close to one of these
things," says Gisler. "Local effects will include hurricane-force winds
and enormous amounts of water falling directly from the sky." His
simulations suggest that a 200-metre
asteroid would make a splash of billions of tonnes of water, which
would descend at up to 300 metres per second within about 20 kilometres
of the impact site.
Brian Toon of the Universityof Colorado in Boulder says we should
continue surveying for asteroids. "We probably have quite a while
before we're going to get hit by a significantly sized [asteroid]," he
says. "But nevertheless one of these is going to come at us."
Comment: For an in-depth study read: Meteorites, Asteroids, and Comets: Damages, Disasters, Injuries, Deaths, and Very Close Calls.
Fri, 17 Apr 2009 20:56 UTC
A cosmic visitor created a brief spectacle over the pre-dawn Wise County skies Friday.
Most likely a meteor plummeting to earth in a blaze of glory, the
fireball streaked down on an easterly arc roughly above U.S. Route 58
down toward what appeared to be a destination in the Tacoma area, at
least from the perspective of White Oak Road atop the Tacoma Mountain
Road ridgeline, looking south.
The fiery falling object was witnessed shortly before 6:30
a.m., or roughly a half-hour before sunrise. Daybreak motorists on U.S.
58 would have had a nice view of an unusual event during their morning
commute, the fireball breaking apart into two pieces before flaming out
in the same instant at what appeared to be just a few hundred feet
above the terrain.
The Wise County Sheriff's Dispatch Center said no
citizens reported having their breakfast rudely interrupted by a
smoldering stone smashing through a ceiling or finding a car windshield
inexplicably spiderwebbed. So whatever was left of the likely meteor -
tiny pieces or even tinier particles for the most part - splattered
harmlessly onto field or forest.
Dr. Lucian Undrieu, a native of Romania and a professor of
physics at the University of Virginia's College at Wise, said a meteor
is an object that disintegrates in the atmosphere, and a meteorite
actually strikes the ground. Because it flamed out, the object was most
likely a meteor, he said.
"There are probably two (meteorites) per day all over the globe," Undrieu said.
A little-known fact is that the Earth's mass grows by an estimated 40,000 tons annually from stuff that falls from space.
Undrieu said for a meteor to have survived so close to the
ground, it would have been about one meter in diameter when entering
the atmosphere, or more or less a yard thick.
Breaking into two pieces an instant before flaming out was
likely the final incineration of Friday's meteor, Undrieu said, so
little more than stardust would have sprinkled onto the ground. Also,
appearing to fall over the Tacoma area would have been deceiving to the
White Oak Road witness, he said, because the object could have been far
Although he teaches physics, Undrieu said he occasionally teaches an introductory astronomy course at UVa-Wise.
"I take great pleasure in teaching it," he said, and expressed
a hint of envy for those early birds who might have witnessed Friday's
sky spectacle of a meteoroidal kind.
Sun, 19 Apr 2009 18:08 UTC
Posted: April 19, 2009
Date: March 31 2009
Number of witnesses: 5
Number of objects: 1
Shape of objects: Round
Weather Conditions: Night Sky, clear
Description: Standing out front of my
partners parents house admiring his mothers new car in Browns Plains,
we noticed an object in the sky, which seemed very bright, a lot
brighter than the rest of the sky, it seemed to be travelling in a
straight line heading north west, as it got closer it became very
bright and looked like it was on fire.. we all freaked out as we
thought it was a plane, maybe a huge shooting star.. Then it looked
like a couple of pieces of it broke off which were fire looking round
objects and stayed still in the sky burning so bright you could not
miss it. All of a sudden it started moving back in the direction it
came from and we finally lost sight of it!!
It was in sight for about five minutes or so, we do have a little footage of it on a mobile phone but not that great..
Did anyone else see this and what was it??
Mon, 20 Apr 2009 20:03 UTC
Waco - Residents from Waco to Madison County reported seeing a flaming
object streaking through the western Central Texas sky Monday morning,
but there is no confirmation yet what the object may have been.
One resident reported to KBTX-TV she saw the object above the Kroger store in College Station.
Another reported seeing it while driving on Wellborn Road in College Station.
A resident also saw it in Madison County.
Robinson ISD Special Education Director Kay Carter was driving from
Houston to Waco Monday morning and was driving north on the loop just
past University in College Station when she saw the fireball.
"It came into view at the top left of my windshield coming
down at about a 45 degree angle. It was bright white with a tail behind
it. It was about a fist to 1 ½ fists above the horizon and to the right
of my windshield when it flashed out very suddenly," she said in an
e-mail to News 10.
"It probably lasted about a second. My first thought was a
shooting star but much closer than usual. It was much larger than usual
shooting stars," she said.
In February, a bright fireball and a window-rattling explosion
startled residents as a pickup-truck-size meteor plunged to Earth and
shattered in a show that was visible from the West area in northern
McLennan County all the way to Austin.
Pieces of the meteor have since been recovered in the West area.
Mon, 20 Apr 2009 21:25 UTC
April 2nd, ham radio operator Stan Nelson of Roswell, New Mexico, was
listening to the radar's signals when the International Space Station
and a meteor passed through the beam in quick succession.
The slowly descending tone at the beginning of the soundtrack
is the radar's doppler-shifted reflection from the ISS. It sounds like
the whistle of a train racing past a stationary bystander. Indeed, the
basic physics of the doppler shift is the same in both cases.
The rapidly descending tone near the end of the soundtrack is the
radar's doppler-shifted reflection from a meteor. Because meteors
travel through space some two to ten times faster than Earth-orbiting
spacecraft, their radar reflections are much more sharply doppler
Click on the dynamic spectrum to listen.
On April 22nd you might hear both kinds of reflections as Lyrid meteors
and various Earth-orbiting satellites pass over the radar facility. Tune in!
Mon, 20 Apr 2009 18:22 UTC
A mysterious "boom" that resounded across Vancouver, Washington early Friday may have been an extraterrestrial wake-up call, theorizes a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Vancouver.
"I can't think of any other explanation, other than a fairly
substantial gravel quarry explosion," said Jeff Wynn, research
geophysicist with the Cascades Volcano Observatory.
Local gravel quarries reported no activity, especially at 6 a.m.
Several online readers last week offered theories about the
noise, which some reported rattling windows and spooking animals. But,
in a story on Saturday, experts ruled out some of the obvious theories.
It wasn't a thunderclap. It wasn't a volcanic eruption. As far as
emergency managers know, nothing exploded on the ground.
Wynn said Monday he's reasonably confident that it was
a relatively large meteorite known as a bolide blowing apart in the
atmosphere miles above Vancouver. He said these arrivals are surprisingly common, though normally not in such a densely populated urban area where it's experienced by so many people.
People generally reported the noise in an area of no more than about 10 miles, from west Vancouver to Hazel Dell and Orchards.
"A relatively small object could do that," Wynn said. The object was
probably "on the order of maybe a foot when it hit the upper
atmosphere. It was probably pretty close to vertical" to be heard in
such a confined area.
If it was any bigger?
"Portland wouldn't be here," he said.
Wynn personally studied the landscape impacted by an
iron-nickel object that crashed down in a remote area of Saudi Arabia
in 1863. It had "all the effects of a Hiroshima-scale atom bomb except
one: no radiation," he wrote in an e-mail.
The objects enter our atmosphere at mind-bending speed - 7 to
25 kilometers a second, Wynn said - which causes air to stack up in
front and a vacuum behind. When the bolide breaks apart, its
now-exponentially larger surface area creates a blindingly bright flash
and a sonic boom.
Wynn recalled witnessing one by happenstance while in the midst of a fierce sandstorm on the Arabian Peninsula in 1994.
He had bundled up against the storm inside his Land Cruiser,
pulled a thick sleeping bag over his head and had his eyes shut. The
flash penetrated the total darkness.
Depending on the size, composition and angle of entry, space
rocks can do worse than create a loud noise or an interesting flash.
A bolide that detonated over the Siberian Taiga on June 30,
1908, leveled a forest the size of Rhode Island, Wynn said. Sixty
kilometers south of the detonation point, a man in a remote trading
post was assembling barrels with his back to the action.
"The first thing he knew, the back of his homespun wool shirt
caught on fire," Wynn said. "As he pulled the shirt off, the concussion
blast hit him and knocked him end over tea kettle."
Wynn said the man's wife, spotting her husband laying
half-naked and unconscious at the base of a tree, lugged him inside
their cabin and nursed him back to health.
In the case of the Vancouver boom, he said, the object had to
be much smaller and composed of stony material rather than dense iron.
"If people find pieces of this thing on the ground, it will have a burned and pitted look," he said.
Wynn downplayed the chance that it was a sonic boom from an
early-morning military operation, both because a spokesman for the
Oregon Air National Guard discounted it and because the area affected
was more confined than what Wynn would expect from a sonic boom from an
"The idea that it would be a sonic boom from a military
aircraft is pretty darn small now," he said. "It's a huge waste of
energy, and you'd only do that if you're trying to chase someone down
and shoot them."
Wed, 22 Apr 2009 15:25 UTC
It's clear a 170-pound black boulder doesn't belong embedded half-a-foot into a sandy loam field north of Livingston.
The puzzle is whether it fell from the sky -- a meteorite on a
collision course with Earth. Or if the giant rock was abandoned 10 feet
off the road for some unknown reason, coincidentally about the same
time residents saw a fireball burning in the Central Valley sky.
The missing piece of information should be known in a few weeks, if not sooner.
Jerry McAlwee, the self-described rock hound who found the boulder with
a friend, hopes it's an extraterrestrial discovery. And even if it's
not, the suspense is worth the time and effort.
"It's kind of a CSI-type thing," he said Tuesday. "If it's not
a meteorite, I don't know how to explain some of the things (about the
For example, magnets stick to most of its surface. Part of its crust is melted and smooth. The grass is stained around it.
McAlwee, 40, lives in Sunnyvale but helps his girlfriend
maintain five acres and a house about 100 yards from Highway 99. Along
with a friend, Tim Mihalko, he was extending a fence on Sycamore
Surrounded by grass, Mihalko thought he'd stumbled on a tree
stump. As he made a closer pass with a ride-on mower, he realized it
was a rock about the size of a microwave.
He called over McAlwee, who wasn't sure what to make of it.
The last time he had mowed the field was early December. The object
wasn't there. It would've mangled his mower blade.
After pondering a few theories, he wondered if it could be the remnants of the fireball seen in the night sky Dec. 27.
Several people in the state saw a tomato-green fireball flying
northwest through the Central Valley. It sparked interest among
meteorite hunters. A few are said to have spent some time scouring the
Meteorite researchers put the landing, if there was one,
somewhere near the north Merced County line. No one has yet announced
that they've discovered any pieces of it.
It remains to be seen whether this is from that event or some coincidence.
McAlwee sent a walnut-size sample to Eric Whichman, a San Diego resident who runs meteoritesusa.com.
Whichman said he will run preliminary tests to see if it
contains nickel and iron, two minerals found in chondrites, the
most-common kind of meteorite.
He'll also look for round mineral patches called chondrules. If both those pan out, he'll ship the sample to a lab for tests.
"We're taking a wait-and-see attitude," Whichman said.
Based on the photos alone, he's skeptical that it's a
meteorite. If he was forced to make an immediate judgment, he'd say
it's not a space rock.
If it turns out to be a meteorite, he said he'll visit Merced as soon as he can.
If it's not, he still wants to spend some time looking for any meteorite left by the fireball.
Regardless of how this mystery turns out, McAlwee looks at discovering the rock with a philosophical bent.
"Everyone lives between their alarm clock and their next meal,"
he said. "It broadens your idea of what might be the context of
In other words, between a rock and a starred space.
Thu, 23 Apr 2009 19:58 UTC
On Tuesday night a UFO was seen blazing over Salford Precinct at around
10pm. Eye witness, Rachel, has described it as "a bright orange light,
like a fire ball moving at a steady space. It was really weird".
It wasn't the sun by any chance? There's been similar
spottings in Irlam a few nights before and all over Geater Manchester
recently. There was even an 'encounter' in Eccles last year.
Rachel has logged the alien visitors on the UK UFO
Sightings website and asked for any other witnesses. If anyone else saw
the 'bright orange light' please register it at UK UFO Sightings.
Sun, 26 Apr 2009 18:09 UTC
An official with the Coconino County National Forest Service has
reported a "very large" meteor crashed overnight in the area of
Schnebly Hill near Flagstaff.
The news alert, sent out by the sheriff's office, reported
that when the meteor impacted the ground, authorities received multiple
calls and reports of a "car-size ball of flame."
More details as they become available.
April 7th 2009 Fireball Sighting Report in Florida, USA
Sun, 26 Apr 2009 04:49 UTC
Date: April 7th 2009 Fireball Sighting Reports
Time Of Sighting: 21:45
Report: My children and I just pulled into our drive way as I put my
hand on the door of the car to open it I saw a light greenish blue
color and thought someone had shot off fireworks it was small at first
then it was getting a longer and longer shape and the color was
changing to a yellow color and it was also getting wider. The tail was
white and getting longer then the front turned white. Then it got red
and really big exploded and disappered quickly.
Name: Cindy Hawkins
Location: 2430 Cosmos Ave. Middleburg, Fl 32068
Direction Of Travel: West South West
Altitude: 1000′ ?
Angle of Decent In Degrees: 45 ?
Color of Fireball: Light Teal then Yellow then White then Red
Brightness: Bright like fire works
Duration: 15 Seconds maybe more
Sonic Boom: No
Crackling Static Sound: No
Whizzing or Whooshing Sound: No
Have A Meteorite: No
Mon, 20 Apr 2009 04:57 UTC