The Associated Press
Wed, 30 Dec 2009 13:50 EST
Russia is considering sending a spacecraft to a large asteroid to knock
it off its path and prevent its collision with Earth - a collision NASA
considers highly unlikely - the head of the country's space agency said
Anatoly Perminov said the space agency will hold a meeting
soon to assess a mission to Apophis, telling Golos Rossii radio that it
would invite NASA, the European Space Agency, the Chinese space agency
and others to join the project once it is finalized.
When the 270-meter (885-foot) asteroid was first discovered in
2004, astronomers estimated the chances of it smashing into Earth in
its first flyby in 2029 were as high as 1-in-37, but have since lowered
Further studies ruled out the possibility of an impact
in 2029, when the asteroid is expected to come no closer than 18,300
miles (29,450 kilometres) above Earth's surface, but they indicated a
small possibility of a hit on subsequent encounters.
In October, NASA lowered the odds that Apophis could hit Earth
in 2036 from a 1-in-45,000 as earlier thought to a 1-in-250,000 chance
after researchers recalculated the asteroid's path. It said another
close encounter in 2068 will involve a 1-in-330,000 chance of impact.
"It wasn't anything to worry about before. Now it's even less
so," said Steve Chesley, an astronomer with the Near Earth Object
Program at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Without mentioning NASA conclusions, Perminov said that he
heard from a scientist that Apophis is getting closer and may hit the
planet. "I don't remember exactly, but it seems to me it could hit the
Earth by 2032," Perminov said.
"People's lives are at stake. We should pay several hundred
million dollars and build a system that would allow to prevent a
collision, rather than sit and wait for it to happen and kill hundreds
of thousands of people," Perminov said.
Scientists have long theorized about asteroid deflection
strategies. Some have proposed sending a probe to circle around a
dangerous asteroid to gradually change its trajectory. Others suggested
sending a spacecraft to collide with the asteroid and alter its
momentum, or using nuclear weapons to hit it.
Perminov wouldn't disclose any details of the project, saying
they still need to be worked out. But he said the mission wouldn't
require any nuclear explosions.
Hollywood action films Deep Impact and Armageddon,
have featured space missions scrambling to avoid catastrophic
collisions. In both movies space crews use nuclear bombs in an attempt
to prevent collisions.
"Calculations show that it's possible to create a special
purpose spacecraft within the time we have, which would help avoid the
collision without destroying it (the asteroid) and without detonating
any nuclear charges," Perminov said. "The threat of collision can be
Boris Shustov, the director of the Institute of Astronomy
under the Russian Academy of Sciences, hailed Perminov's statement as a
signal that officials had come to recognize the danger posed by
"Apophis is just a symbolic example, there are many other dangerous objects we know little about," he said, according to RIA Novosti news agency.
is wrong with this picture? We are being told that the chance of
Apophis hitting Earth is 1-in-250,000 - yet the Russians are
considering spending the money to send it off course. That means one of
two things: either the odds are much higher than we are told, or there
is something else of concern out there and Apophis is just the cover story.
England: Whole valley lights up in a semi-circle - nothing seen
UK UFO Sightings
Wed, 30 Dec 2009 17:43 EST
Posted: December 30, 2009
Location of Sighting: County Durham A688 between Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor
Date of Sighting: 30/12/2009
Witness Statement: I was driving towards
Spennymoor this morning and had passed Bishop Auckland, and was passed
the Park Head hotel, up hte hill, almost to the Petrol Station (on the
right) when the whole valley on my left lit up in a huge semi-circle
arc shape, with a huge bright light...(to be honest, expected a huge
explosion after it, but nothing happened, except for me being terrified
Fri, 01 Jan 2010 00:00 EST
Nazdrovia! Nothing like starting off 2010 with a little talk of
Armageddon (the movie). Rumors were flying around the Internet just
before the New Year that the Russians are planning a mission to divert
the asteroid 99942 Apophis away from Earth collision.
Nazdrovia! Nothing like starting off 2010 with a
little talk of Armageddon (the movie). Rumors were flying around the
Internet just before the New Year that the Russians are planning a
mission to divert the asteroid 99942 Apophis away from Earth collision.
Apophis is a real asteroid. It was discovered in 2004.
Although not terribly big, about 270 meters (885 feet) in diameter, if
it did collide with Earth, there would probably be a massive explosion
in the atmosphere. If that happened to be over a populated area, there
could be a lot of damage. However, there's a lot of ifs in there. IF
Apophis has an orbit that gets close enough to Earth. IF the angle of
collision is steep enough to cause destruction of the asteroid. IF the
collision area is not over water or unpopulated land. And Finally, IF
the explosion or rain of meteorites is close enough to the surface of
At discovery, Apophis was classified as a Near Earth Object
(NEO), meaning that its orbit roughly intersects that of Earth.
Original calculations of orbit put the chances of collision at 2.7
percent in 2029. That's close enough for giving it some thought.
However, on second look, the orbital intersection was put at 18,000
miles (29,000 km)...close, but no catastrophe. The chances of catching
Apophis on the rebound (in 2036), which takes into account the effects
of passing near Earth's gravitational field, were adjusted from
1-in-45,000 to 1-in-250,000.
These figures have been out for some time, so if the current
story wasn't given a sendoff by Anatoly Perminov, the head of the
Russian space program (Roscosmos), probably nobody would have paid
attention. NASA didn't pay (public) attention anyway, as it's already
decided Apophis and Earth collision is a non-issue.
The timing of the story, just before the New Year, suggests a
little of the Russian bear tweaking the beak of the U.S. eagle. There's
a long history of Russia's space program staking out 'first-mover'
territory, only to be met with stony disdain from the NASA folks. In
this case, Perminov's remarks make it clear this is a Russian plan in
the making. (Some people do remember the famous plans of the Soviet
Much more quietly, the European Space Agency (ESA) has also
been considering the launch of a craft to crash into Apophis to see if
an object its size can be moved from orbit. There's some consensus in
the space agency community (this includes China, India, Brazil and
others) that thinking about how to handle a potential asteroid or comet
collision is something worth doing. Nobody, however, is actually ready
to put up the money for any experimental efforts.
There are several thousand known NEO's, none of which
currently poses a real threat to Earth. There may be other celestial
bodies out there that we haven't discovered yet. There are
(underfunded) programs in place in several countries to attempt the
cataloging of NEO asteroids, but their studies are years away from
completion. In the meantime, asteroid collisions are mostly in the
domain of Hollywood movies and geopolitics. Nazdrovia!
Comment: 2029? How about the other NEO's that can come at any time? Sounds like they are practicing for something sooner!
Sat, 02 Jan 2010 15:55 EST
The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) is tracking a comet that is about to make a perilous close approach to the sun.
Will the icy visitor survive? Click here for the latest image.
The comet was discovered by Australian amateur astronomer Alan Watson in images taken by NASA's STEREO-A spacecraft.
Click here for the movie and here for labels.
Quadrantid Meteor Shower Peaks on January 3rd
Sat, 02 Jan 2010 16:01 EST
The annual Quadrantid meteor shower peaks on Jan. 3rd around 1900 UT (2
pm EST) when Earth passes through a stream of debris from shattered
comet 2003 EH1. The timing of this northern shower favors observers in
eastern Europe and Asia. Bright moonlight will interfere with the
display, which can reach 100+ meteors per hour under ideal conditions.
In North America, where the peak occurs in daylight, it may be possible to hear the shower on meteor radar. Tune into Space Weather Radio for live echoes.
South Wales Echo/Wales Online
Tue, 05 Jan 2010 13:30 EST
A Grandfather rushed to grab his video camera after seeing what he
thought was a UFO racing through the skies above Pontyclun.
Brian Howells, 64, caught just under a minute of film on Sunday evening in his back garden.
After locking up his summer house, he turned around to walk
back into his house - and was startled by the sight of a strange shape
in the sky.
Mr Howells, who lives with his wife Mary and son Stephen, saw what he thought was orange flames coming from the object.
He said: "I looked up to the sky and couldn't believe my eyes.
"It was about 5.50pm so it was fairly dark, and I saw this big ball of fire moving quite quickly and silently.
"I called Mary to have a look and then grabbed my video camera."
But as the couple had just returned from a holiday in Belgium, there was only 40 seconds left on the tape to capture any film.
"First of all, we thought it was a plane on fire," said Mr Howells, a retired manager at an upholstery firm.
"We are on the flight path from Cardiff Airport, so it's nothing unusual to see planes coming overhead.
"But as there were flames coming out of the side and back, Mary and I panicked and thought the plane was in trouble."
So he phoned Cardiff International Airport to ask whether there had been any emergencies in the area.
The security department had not had any reports, but told him to try South Wales Police and ask them.
A local police officer visited Mr Howells to see the footage,
and got in touch with RAF Kinloss in Scotland, which tracks all objects
in the sky. They identified it as a meteor.
When Mr Howells told his 10-year-old granddaughter Jessica,
who lives with his daughter Angela and her four-year-old brother Jack
in Hereford, the young sci-fi fan didn't believe what her grandad was
He said: "Jessica is mad on Doctor Who, and she kept saying, 'You're fibbing Bamps!' - she was gobsmacked."
But despite the spooky goings-on above his garden, Mr Howells said he was sceptical about there being life in outer space.
"I think there's always an explanation for UFO sightings," he said.
"I've got a telescope and I often have a peep out of it at the
stars, but this is the first time I've seen anything like this. I
believe in God, but not aliens."
A spokesperson for South Wales Police said: "At around 6pm on
January 3, South Wales Police received a call from a member of the
public in Pontyclun reporting a large ball of fire in the sky.
"Officers contacted the RAF who confirmed there has been
meteorite activity at the time of the call from the member of the
Meteor showers are quite common in the first days of a New
Year. Quadrantid showers occur on January 3 and 4 every year and are
quite visible to the naked eye.
Brian Spink from the Swansea Astronomical Society said: "They
are very sharp showers and for amateurs to see them they'd have to be
somewhere without street lighting."
Secretary of Cardiff's Astronomical Society, Dave Powell said
that meteors - or shooting stars as they are often known as - are
shards of debris burning up in the atmosphere at great speed and can
often been seen up to 100 times per hour.
Argentina: Not A UFO - The Mendoza Bolide
Wed, 06 Jan 2010 17:47 EST
Monday, January 4 at 1:37 a.m., an unusual object was reported over
Rama Caída (Mendoza). While tagged by many as a UFO, the Observatorio
Astronómico Instituto Copernico found that it was a slow-moving bolide
flying a southwest-northeast trajectory and having a visual magnitude
Not a UFO, but a lovely image nonetheless.
Thu, 07 Jan 2010 11:24 EST
Australian Aboriginal 'Dreaming' story has helped experts uncover a
meteorite impact crater in the outback of the Northern Territory.
Duane Hamacher, an astrophysicist studying Aboriginal
astronomy at Sydney's Macquarie University, used Google Maps to search
for the signs of impact craters in areas related to Aboriginal stories
of stars or stones falling from the sky.
One story, from the folklore of the Arrernte people, is about
a star falling to Earth at a site called Puka. This led to a search on
Google Maps of Palm Valley, about 130 km southwest of Alice Springs.
Here Hamacher discovered what looked like a crater, which he confirmed
with surveys in the field in September 2009.
The crater is 280 m in diameter and about 30 m deep. Magnetic
and gravitational data collected from the site show the crater is
bowl-shaped below the surface and was likely caused by a meteorite a
few metres in diameter.
"There is no other way to explain this than as a cosmic
impact," said Hamacher. "It couldn't have been erosion and there is no
volcanic activity in the area."
Macquarie University co-worker, Craig O'Neill, added
that a tiny amount of 'shocked quartz' had also been found at the site.
"These were very rare, but only form if a rock has experienced a shock
blast like that from a nuclear bomb or meteorite impact," he said.
The research is described in papers Hamacher is preparing for
submission to the journals Archaeoastronomy and Meteoritics and
Despite the link to the Dreaming story, weathering and the
absence of meteorite fragments suggest that the crater is millions of
years old and humans could not possibly have witnessed the event,
Another crater at Gosse's Bluff, 170 km west of Alice Springs,
is 140 million years old, and is also the subject of an Arrernte
Dreaming story about a "cosmic baby" which fell to Earth.
Instead, Hamacher thinks Arrernte Aborigines may have learned
to recognise craters from more recent impacts and then deduced the
origin of the Palm Valley and Gosse's Bluff craters. One more recent
example of craters created by an impact are the Henbury craters, 70 km
from Palm Valley and just 4,000 years old.
He noted that his theory is speculation and the presence of the Palm
Valley crater near to the origin of the Arrernte story could simply be
Hamacher's comparison of known craters and Aboriginal stories
about cosmic impacts have not yet uncovered conclusive evidence that
meteorite impacts have been witnessed and incorporated into oral
But he has found documented evidence of the Henbury craters
being referred to as "chindu china waru chingi yabu" by Aboriginal
elders, which he said roughly translates as "Sun walk fire devil rock".
The Parks and Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory
notes in its 2002 management plan for the Henbury craters, that it is
aware of related mythologies, but cannot share them, because they are
considered sacred and secret by the Aboriginal custodians of the site.
Hamacher said that he thinks it is possible that a direct link
will be found and that further research into Dreaming stories could
help uncover new meteorite impact sites. He hopes to return to the area
to talk to Aboriginal elders about their stories.
Fri, 08 Jan 2010 20:27 EST
A meteor crashing through the Earth's atmosphere could be responsible
for sightings of a fireball over Montreal Thursday night, astronomers
Montrealer Humberto Dramasino witnessed the sight as he was driving home in the city's St-Laurent district around 7:30 p.m.
"I saw a fireball just below the clouds," Dramasino said. "It
was losing pieces in the air while it was flying and it was very, very
The spectacle lasted no more than a few seconds, Dramasino said.
Montreal-based astronomer Andrew Fazekas, who runs the website
thenightskyguy.com, confirmed the description of the object matched
that of a meteor.
Fazekas said he received reports of the fireball from at least
five others, including from as far away as Saint-Eustache, about 30
kilometres north of Montreal.
Meteors are not unusual but the size of the fireball witnessed over Montreal is less common, Fazekas said.
"Meteors happen every night, they tend to be about the size of a grain of sand though," he said.
"When you see something that looks like a ball that seems to be on
fire, with smoke trailing behind it - those tend to be much larger like
a baseball, basketball size, even the size of a tricycle.
"These rocks tend to produce a very spectacular sight," Fazekas said.
Fazekas said the reports were even more unusual, because of the heavy cloud cover over the region Thursday night.
"That is very rare because most of these meteors, even the ones
that produce fireballs are very high up - many kilometres above our
heads," he said.
Fazekas said he would transmit the reports of the sighting to
the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ont., which monitors
meteors across Canada.
Sun, 25 Oct 2009 01:20 EDT
next small step for man - and giant leap for mankind - now seems
increasingly likely to be bootfall on a lump of rock and metal more
than a million miles from Earth.
Even as a rocket designed to help carry astronauts back to the Moon
awaits take-off in Florida this week, asteroids have been singled out
as the favoured destination for man's return to outer space.
An expert panel appointed by President Barack Obama to assess
America's future spaceflight programme last week recommended bypassing
the Moon in favour of a mission that sounds as if it is straight out of
The target would be an as yet-unidentified asteroid -
one of the countless ancient pieces of debris from the dawn of the
solar system that still circle the sun. It might measure just 500 yards
across, with a surface area no greater than the Vatican City.
That stop would be a stepping stone towards the ultimate goal
of landing a man on Mars, the report suggested. But to achieve any such
ambition, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) will
need an extra $3 billion a year, on top of the $99 billion budgeted for
the next decade, the panel warned.
Weather permitting, the agency will on Tuesday launch the
super-slim Ares 1-X rocket for an unmanned two-minute test flight. The
rocket was originally conceived as a replacement for the space shuttle,
which is almost obsolete and will be decommissioned soon. it was also
intended as a possible first step to taking American astronauts back to
the Moon, after a gap that is already nearly 40 years.
The project could soon be cancelled, however. Instead, the
experts have advised the White House to turn to private companies to
carry cargo and astronauts through low-Earth orbits - including
supplying the International Space Station (ISS) - and allow Nasa to
focus its attention focussed on a further-flung final frontier.
That would be a crucial stage in the fast-developing global
space race. In the near future, Russia will be a major player as the
sole supplier of the ISS after the shuttle is decommissioned.
China is working on plans to develop its own space station by
2020, followed by a possible lunar trip, and India hopes to launch a
manned spaceflight by 2015. No other state is close to pursuing its own
human space operations.
Thomas Jones, a science author and former Nasa Shuttle
astronaut who has conducted a series of spacewalks, is an enthusiastic
cheerleader for "mission asteroid".
"It's exciting and exhilerating, and also very promising for
scientific research as asteroids are the raw materials for our planets,
left over from the time when the solar system was formed," he told The Sunday Telegraph.
Mr Jones, whose latest book Planetology: Unlocking the Secrets of the
Solar System was published last year, listed the advantages of
switching our attention to asteroids, which have almost no
gravitiational field and are likely to be rich in minerals.
Raw materials such as water, nitrogen and phosphorus could be
extracted and transported much more easily than any recovered from the
Moon, where gravity is much greater. These resources could be crucial
for supporting onward missions to Mars.
Reaching an asteroid - probably one on an orbit somewhere
between Earth and Mars - could re-establish America's leadership in the
space race. Forty years ago, Neil Amstrong's step on to the Moon - that
famous "giant leap for mankind" - confirmed that US had surpassed the
Sovet Union, formerly the frontrunners in space exploration.
Setting foot on an asteroid may be more complex than landing
on the lunar surface. A specially designed landing craft would be
required which would in effect "dock" with the asteroid - slowly
approaching its surface until it touches, then firing harpoon-type
tethers into the ground to hold it in contact, like tent pegs, in the
almost weightless environment.
Such a step may not just be a matter of human exploration but
also of human survival as scientists believe it is only a matter of
time, even if that is measured in millenia, before one such space
object will be found to be on a collision course with Earth.
A strike by a medium-sized asteroid could wipe out mankind, so
the information that would be garnered by landing on one would be
crucial to developing a method of diverting one in the future.
All of this is dependant on securing extra funding for an
agency that the panel last week described as "at a tipping
point...primarily due to mismatch of goals and resources".
The experts, led by Norman Augustine, former chief executive
of Lockheed Martin, delivered a stark warning in the first sentence of
its its 157-page report. "The US human spaceflight programme appears to
be on an unsustainable trajectory," they declared.
Although the Ares 1-X will be test-launched this week as part
of the current Constellation programme to send man back to the Moon,
the panel recommends abandoning the rocket as its development is so far
behind schedule, despite the $8 billion already invested in it.
Instead, they propose Nasa adopts a "flexible path" approach
to more ambitious forays to the final frontier - including fly-bys of
the Moon and Mars as well as asteroid visits.
Nasa administrator Charles Bolden said he would meet Mr Obama later this year to discuss the report.
The President is thought to be sceptical about the cost of the
space programme, but gave fresh heart to space advocates in a speech
about science on Friday in which he declared that innovation was in the
DNA of Americans.
Jeff Foust, an aerospace analyst and commentator, said the
priority for Nasa was to develop a "sustainable" human presence in
space after the prohibitively costly programme of the 1960s.
"We reached the Moon 40 years ago, but it was so expensive
that all we could basically do was go there, do some science and
leave," he said. "Now we are looking at a series of stepping stone
missions, learning what we can along the way."
He predicted that man might be able to visit an asteroid by
the mid-2020s, aim for a mission to one of the Martian moons about 2030
and then a few years later aim for the holy grail of space exploration
- a trip to the Red Planet itself.
Mr Foust, who edits and publishes the respected Space Review,
spoke to The Sunday Telegraph from a meeting of commercial operators at
the the world's first private spaceport in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
The mood there was predictably upbeat after the Augustine
commission's backing for private space businesses to replace Nasa's
role in low-Earth operations. But not everybody supported a historic
shift in the skies.
"The Constellation programme is one we're committed to and
very proud of," said Arizona Democratic congresswoman Gabrielle
Giffords, whose husband is a Nasa shuttle pilot. "I don't want to bet
the farm for human space exploration and the safety of our astronauts
on unproven commercial businesses."
Alaska: Meteor lights up Muldoon
Channel 2 News
Sun, 10 Jan 2010 06:48 EST
Anchorage -- People watching the skies over Muldoon saw something unusual Sunday morning.
Tower officials at Merrill Field say a bright object, caught on a
Federal Aviation Administration weather webcam, fell from the sky east
Elmendorf Air Force Base and NORAD confirm it was a meteor,
streaking through the sky and crashing into the Chugach Mountains. They
say we're in the midst of a meteor shower -- the third one this week.
The Orange County Register
Mon, 11 Jan 2010 12:22 EST
Doug Peltz, a science teacher at LePort Upper Elementary & Jr.
High, says he saw a bright fireball (meteor) Sunday night from Irvine
and is wondering whether others saw the same thing. He's reported the
sighting to Orange County Astronomers, one of the country's largest
amateur astronomy groups. (Numerous other readers say they saw
something. Check Comments below.)
Peltz said in an email that, "At 9:39 p.m. (Sunday, Jan. 10),
from East Irvine (Portola Springs), I just witnessed the brightest
fireball I've ever seen! It lit up the whole sky, such that my wife at
first thought it was lightning.
"Definitely bright blue in color, and it streaked from between
Castor & Pollux (Gemini) and Mars. Tracing the path backwards, it
seemed to me that its radiant point was perhaps the constellation
Auriga. I even heard a crackling sound as it streaked.
"Did anyone else witness this? I'd imaging it was
bright enough to definitely show up on nearby surveillance cameras;
it'(d) be great if someone happened to capture it on film!"
Tue, 12 Jan 2010 03:30 EST
On Wednesday (Jan. 13), an object called 2010 AL30 will fly by Earth at a distance of 130,000 km (80,000 miles). That's only one-third of the way from here to the moon.
Astronomers will be able to observe it shining with a brightness of a
14th magnitude star as it dashes through the constellations of Orion,
Taurus, and Pisces (further details about the orbit of 2010 AL30 can be
found on NASA's Solar System Dynamics website).
This small object is cataloged as a 10 meter-wide asteroid and there's
no chance it will impact Earth, but it does provide astronomers with an
What makes this near-Earth object (NEO) special is that it has
an orbital period of almost exactly one year. This fact has led some
scientists to speculate that 2010 AL30 could be a man made object and
not an asteroid. After all, there's a lot of space junk up there,
there's every possibility that it could be a spent rocket booster or
some other spacecraft artifact.
But it could just be coincidence that the NEO has the same orbital period as Earth and that it's just another asteroid.
According to Alan W. Harris,
Senior Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute, apart from
2010 AL30's coincidental orbital period, there is nothing else to
suggest that it isn't a naturally occurring near-Earth asteroid.
"[2010 AL30 is] unlikely to be artificial, its orbit doesn't
resemble any useful spacecraft trajectory, and its encounter velocity
with the Earth is not unusually low," Harris said in The Minor Planet Mailing List.
Harris also points out that 2010 AL30 has a "perfectly ordinary
Earth-crossing orbit." In other words: it looks like any other
In reply, Andrea Boattini of the Catalina Sky Survey made the interesting point
that 2010 AL30 is a great example of how much of a warning we'd have
for an object of this size on an impact trajectory. After all, the
discovery was only announced on Jan. 11, two days before its Earth encounter.
It is worth noting however, even if 2010 AL30 did hit
Earth, it would most likely explode high in the atmosphere (with the
energy of a small nuclear bomb), posing little danger to anyone on the
ground. Impacts of this size occur on an annual basis.
The discovery of this 10 meter wide object is testament to the
increasing capabilities of the international community of asteroid
hunters. When 2010 AL30 does make its closest approach on Jan. 13, a
more detailed look at this small visitor can be carried out, verifying
whether it is indeed an asteroid or man made object. However, it would
appear that the consensus is that it's a natural inhabitant of our
solar system, passing safely through our neighborhood, providing
asteroid hunters with an interesting target to study.
Sources: Spaceweather.com, Remanzacco Observatory
Thu, 06 Nov 2008 00:40 EST
(meteorobs) Nov 6, 2008 Starksboro, Vermont T
About 4:30 am in Starksboro Vermont on Thursday Nov 6, 2008 I was driving
north to work and my attention was drawn away from the road to the west
where I saw the longest ,brightest tail and a bright green ball that
exploded! It is dark on this highway and our airport in Burlington has very
little traffic. I walk out of my door in Lincoln Vermont at about 4:15 am
and have seen several bright shooting stars lately so I was not surprised at
what I saw but this was huge in the sky. When I entered the nearest town
there was a traffic light that was green at the time and I thought that it
was close to the size of the exploding ball I saw. I have no doubt of what I
saw but I am glad to hear others describing similar sightings. I was just
screaming with excitement - what a sight to see!
The above message is what I sent to Carl Hergenrother. The tail was going
across the sky not 'falling down'. It reminded me of a comet that I saw in
the Pasadena area back in the 1980's during the time when we were taking
trips to the desert to see Haley's comet. I saw the Perseid showers for the
first time then and have been looking up ever since! The explosion was a
real surprise that I did not expect to see.
(meteorobs) FL Keys meteor observation Fri Mar 13, 2009 12:11 am
We have several reports of a green to fireball meteor traveling west to east in
the upper Keys of Florida near the city if Islamorada
USCG Sector Key West
305-292-8739 - fax
(meteorobs) AMS Fireball Sightings Log, Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:31 pm
Regarding this entry in the AMS Fireball Sightings Log for 2008:
705d Dec 27 0155 PST Andrew Modesto California
NW45-SE30 -11 5 Blue/Green N N Y Delayed sonic boom
We need to contact "Andrew" in Modesto in order to interview him about his
observations, specifically about his comment "Delayed sonic boom". Rob Matson
is formulating a model for this fireball based upon all of these observers and
is needing a more specific time range for this "delay".
Do you retain the email address for these eye-witnesses?
Is there any way that we can contact this person?
With best regards,
(meteorobs) Various fireball reports, Fri Nov 21, 2008 2:21 am
It seems that in the last 6 months there has been more & more large bright
fireballs in the early evening hours. Many seem to occur when the sky is
still too bright from the setting Sun for good camera detection.
Or is this just my imagination?
----- Original Message -----
From: "Bruce McCurdy"
To: "Global Meteor Observing Forum"
Sent: 2008/11/20 21:35
Subject: (meteorobs) Various fireball reports
> Here is a collection of reports of tonight's fireball over Western
> Canada. Besides being fortunate enough to see it myself, I also polled our
> Thursday night adult astronomy class and wasn't surprised that one member
> the class saw it; this event will have been seen by thousands. For those
> the Edmonton area, she and I were interviewed by Global TV for their 11
> The phone at the science centre was ringing off the hook.
> www.spaceweather.com reports:
> SASKATCHEWAN FIREBALL: A brilliant green fireball startled onlookers
> western Canada on Nov. 20th at 5:30 pm MST when it split the evening sky
> exploded somewhere over Saskatchewan in a thunderous blue-white flash of
> light. The nature of the fireball is uncertain, but it was probably a
> asteroid disintegrating in Earth's atmosphere. Stay tuned for updates.
> CBC.ca has the following story, with many eyewitness accounts in the
> comments section.
> CTV.ca has their own story here (I shrunk it into a tiny URL):
> I received these comments in my Inbox from various sources:
> Just sitting here in my living room minding my own business at 17:27
> when a bright flash caught my eye out the picture window. I looked up and
> saw a second, probably brighter flash just above the eastern horizon,
> probably 100 degrees azimuth, only 5-10 degrees above the horizon at that
> point and dropping. It was an intense orange colour reminiscent of
> flickering firelight, but in my split second judgement possibly brighter
> than the Full Moon, certainly in that range. There are lots of reflections
> in my picture window, and by the time I finished going "holy $#!+" and
> stepped outside there was no evidence of any sort of persistent train.
> Within 30 seconds my telephone rang, and it was local RASCal Yves
> Lamarre who had been outside with his wife near their home in Sherwood
> 30 km east of me. They too had seen the fireball to _their_ east,
> even brighter than what I saw. They saw it a little higher in the sky
> it ended fairly near the horizon for them as well. She got the better look
> of the two, so I suggested that she write down the details of what she
> observed. Yves will forward it to the Astro list.
> No doubt we will be getting a lot of reports at the science
> centre/university about this one. There will be tons of eastbound traffic
> that time of day, such as Sherwood Park commuters. I hope that some of the
> fireball cameras will have caught it as well.
> In a word: WOW!!!
> Bruce McCurdy, Edmonton, AB
> I was just leaving my work in SE Edmonton just before 5:30PM. As I
> walked to my car the sky lit up like a long lighting flash. My view to the
> south and east was blocked by the building but it was pretty bright.
> guy in parking lot was also looking around. I thought that was strange. I
> got in the car and headed home. About two minutes later my cell rings. One
> our sales people is on the phone telling me he just saw a fireball that
> appeared to be heading straight down. He's near Leduc on Hiway 39. I ask
> this just a couple minutes ago, he says yes. I tell him about the flash.
> at home now and the TV news has lots of reports of this thing. I hope
> are pictures of this.
> Geoff Robertson, Edmonton, AB
> Anyone else see the HUGE fireball over Edmonton tonight? Saw it at
> driving home from work. Started about 20 deg above the W horizon, heading
> few deg S of W, tracked it until obscured by buildings so it may have made
> it to earth. Large head, very bright, at least 1-3 deg across at its peak,
> thought it might have been a plane on fire!
> Tim Dixon, Edmonton. AB
> My name is Greg and I met you a few years back watching the Leonids at
> blackfoot. Called Lance Taylor as my heartbeat was slowing down after the
> show tonight... He suggested I get you the details of my fireball
> Fireball started directly overhead - travelled to about 95-100 degrees
> (just south of due east.) I was located at intersection of Roper Road /
> 50st facing east. Watched the whole show through 3 color changes, when it
> finally broke up into orange chunks about 10 degrees over the horizon.
> Could swear I heard a roar... might just have been my blood pressure
> I have reported to AMS and IMO.
> Greg Scratchley, Edmonton, AB
> WOW just like Bruce said.
> Today at 05:27 pm, my wife and I were heading west into a walkway on
> east side of Heritage Hills in Sherwood Park, when she turned around, as I
> had stopped to let my dog do his thing, and noticed a fireball moving at a
> shallow angle from approximately 40 degrees to the northeast. Based on
> location, my wife noticed this fireball as it was travelling somewhere
> Cassiopeia, near Leo. The sky to the north from there was obstructed by a
> two story home. She described it a red to yellow fireball with a tail
> would have measured about two feet, when holding her arms out at shoulder
> height to get a sense of the length of that ball. She said at the tail
> of it was somewhat of a white tip. As it headed from the northeast
> to the east it disappeared behind a two story home some 100 feet east of
> We were standing downhill from this house, which would place us about 15
> feet below the level plane in front of that house. Its then that I turned
> around and with her saw a bright white flash, followed by darkness
> I called Bruce right after checking what time it was and he asked if we
> had seen a trail of smoke, but we had not. Bruce was also fortunate
> to have been looking east when this event occured.
> I wished I had been facing east to see the whole event. Well next
> Yves Lamarre, Sherwood Park, AB
> On my way home from work, travelling north on Groat at around 5:30 pm
> and as I was turning west on 107 Ave, the sky to the northeast ( the only
> part of the sky in my field of view at that particular moment) flashed
> twice, once bright and longer, the other less bright and shorter. I
> thinking, "Odd time of year for lightning. Or maybe it was a fireball." I
> looked around as much as I could safely do in the middle of traffic, but
> didn't see anything else.
> Dave Cleary, Edmonton, AB
> At about 6:27 I was taking a picture of Jupiter and Venus and saw the
> ground light up with what looked like two flashes. I looked up but saw
> nothing in the sky.
> Tenho Tuomi, Saskatoon, SK
> Did any one see a fireball this evening?
> I was laying on the couch reading (well..ok watching Judge Judy) and
> noticed the sky outside light up..
> It was so quick I thought I must have imagined it.
> About 10 minutes later my daughter called from work and said she saw
> sky light up and a friend of hers said she saw fire in the sky.
> So the really weird thing here is the two of us saw a fireball from
> inside a building.
> Jeff Swick, Saskatoon, SK
> There was caller to radio station CKRM (Regina) from a lady who says
> saw a fireball. She did not use the term fireball, but her description was
> clear. She gave no direction or duration info, but she said she was
> travelling on Highway 6, near Wilcox, SK at the time. Her description also
> mentioned it "hitting the ground", FWIW.
> Anonymous, Wilcox, SK
> hmm. more fireball news... we have a video clip of it 56 second, 4mb
> from a camcorder.
> We went looking through the MIAC site and came across a newer reporting
> form with a fax number for David Pattison at the University of Calgary...
> does this sound right?
> We are waiting for the observer to forward details and his permission
> be contacted by MIAC. You may actually see this on spaceweather as
> canon A510 camera on movie mode, north to south
> 53 degrees 32' 54.3" N and 113 degrees 28' 37.1" W elev. 665m
> Anonymous, Edmonton
> More to come, no doubt.
(meteorobs) Observation May 29/30 2008
Here's my report for May 29/30. This was a brief meteor session
covering the hour around midnight, following some casual observations
with scopes. Despite good sky conditions and a mag 6.5 sky, The
session had mostly dim meteors without anything noteworthy.
But the highlight came on my way back home. As I waited for a
traffic light to change, a magnitude -6 or -7 (!) fireball quickly
got my attention even with all the city light pollution. It started
about halfway up in the north, moved rather slowly and ended low in
the north-east. This was one of the most vividly multi-colored meteor
that I've even seen!!! Starting green and then turning deep blue and
then PURPLE!!!!! The end had a dramatic break-up of at least 4-5
orange colored pieces before fading away. Talk about a nice way to
end a beautiful night :0)
DATE: May 29/30 2008
BEGIN: 0255 UT (2255 EDT) END: 0430 UT (0030 EDT)
OBSERVER: Pierre Martin (MARPI)
LOCATION: Long: -76 29' West; Lat: 45 23' North Elevation: 400 ft
City & Province: Bootland Farm, Ontario, CANADA
RECORDING METHOD: talking clock/tape recorder, plotting
OBSERVED SHOWERS:_______________________________radiant position
ANT (Antihelions)_________________________________17:36 -23
OBSERVING PERIODS: 0 = none seen; / = shower not observed
0255-0430___1508+09___0.92___1.00___6.48___7___1 = 8
Note: The first column (Period UT) refers to observing periods broken
down as close as possible to one hour of true observing, in Universal
Time. The second column (Field) is the area in in the sky where I
centered my field of view. The third column (TEFF) represents
effective observing time (corrected for breaks or any time not spent
looking at the sky). The column (LM) is the average naked eye
limiting magnitude, determined by triangle star counts. All following
columns indicate the number of meteors for each shower observed.
Note: Magnitude -8 is comparable to a quarter moon, magnitude -4 with
the planet Venus, magnitude -1 with the brightest star Sirius,
magnitude +2 to +3 with most average naked eye stars and magnitude +6
to +7 are the faintest stars the naked eye can see under typical dark
conditions. A meteor of at least magnitude -3 is considered a
fireball. The above table contains the magnitudes from all observed
meteors, and the average (last column) for showers.
SKY OBSCURED (FOV) (UT): None
Dead time: 39.74 min (incl breaks and plotting time)
Breaks (UT): 3:16-46, 3:50-58
(meteorobs) Forwarded fireball report from Virginia, Wed Aug 6, 2008 9:50 am
Interesting had a report from an NJAA member at ~ the same time
We saw a massive fireball last night: wanted to give you the
information and find out if you heard about it.
We were driving S on Hwy 87, near the Catskills. At approx. 10pm, a
huge fireball went across our view, going E to W. It looked like it
flared for a moment, dimmed and changed trajectory, then flared
again. The fireball was blue-green and the tail was yellow-orange,
and the ghost stayed in the air for a second or two.
It was awesome.
-------------- Original message --------------
From: Thomas Ashcraft
> I am forwarding this report that was sent to me by an observer in
> Virginia. - Thomas Ashcraft
> I saw and heard(!) a bright fireball from Yorktown, Va on 04 Aug 2008 at
> 0159 UT. Does someone collect these types of sightings? I don't know
> if anyone is interested, but the particulars follow:
> My location: 76d 33m 22.5s W; +37d 16m 06.3s N; 3m elevation (Google Earth)
> Time: Aug 3, 2008 at 9:59 EDT (2008 Aug 04 0159 UT) - give or take 1
> I had just finished setting up a TeleVue sdf 4" refractor at a road-side
> pull-off from the Colonial Parkway to work on the Astronomical League's
> Double Star observing program, and was getting some eyepieces laid out.
> I try to avoid looking at bright lights so I can get dark adapted, and
> was annoyed that something was shining a bright light at me. With my
> head turned away, I saw enough light to see my shadow - I though it was
> a Park Ranger shining a spot or a car pulling into the turn off. Then I
> figured the illumination was coming from too high an angle - my shadow
> was cast down into my eyepiece box. When I turned, I heard a sizzling
> sound and saw two broken trails of meteor light, nearly colinear, but
> they were separate white and bright green streaks. Each trail was
> broken - dashes of varying lengths of green along one path or white
> along the other line.
> Since this illuminated my surroundings better than the full moon, I'd
> estimate it at brighter than -10 magnitude. The sections were running
> next to each other, reminiscent of the Shuttle re-entry breakup over
> Texas a few years ago. No post-event trails (smoke) were seen. When I
> turned, the light had been in progress for just a second or two
> (impression - not measured). The meteor path I witnessed ran below the
> W of Cassiopeia and into Camelopardalis. Afterward, I ran Starry Night
> and estimate the fireball was seen from Az = 38 deg, El = 23 deg over to
> down and northward at Az = 11 deg, El = 16 deg as it continued to break
> up. It must have originated much higher and more eastward. There is a
> body of water just about 90 yards away in that direction (York River),
> followed by more land (Gloucester shore is 2.5 miles east), and then the
> Chesapeake Bay (17 miles away). I did not see impact, as it appeared to
> burn out at 16 deg elevation.
> I'm confused by the audible report. I've heard just one fireball in the
> past, but that was more than 20 years ago. That one was more of a pop
> or bang as opposed to this fairly soft sizzle sound. The sound vs light
> speeds also would indicate this was nearby, but the sound quit before
> the visual faded. I heard the sound as I turned around - so it was
> delayed from me being cognizant of the light by only a few (< about 2?)
> seconds. This is by impression - not by timing. No photo or video
> records were made.
> Please forward as you see fit.
> Mark Croom
> mark.a.croom (at) nasa.gov
(meteorobs) Another Green Meteor?
* To: Meteor Observers Mailing List <email@example.com>
* Subject: (meteorobs) Another Green Meteor?
* From: "Gary W. Kronk" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
* Date: Wed, 1 Apr 1998 16:18:23 -0600
* Reply-To: email@example.com
* Sender: owner-meteorobs
While driving home last night I spotted a green meteor of my own. I don't
know if it is related to the central Arkansas meteor, unless the final
position of the meteor was given incorrectly by that observer. I haven't
done any calculations to check where my meteor would be located in central
Arkansas skies, or whether it would even be visible.
I was driving home from work heading south on a straight road that is
oriented due north to due south. The green meteor appeared near the top of
my windshield, but I am not sure if I saw the beginning or just the point
from where is appeared from behind the roof of my car. It was not directly
in front of me, but was slightly off to my right. Its motion was slow and
it moved toward the horizon, while drifting a little to the right. When
just above the treetops it fragmented into about a half dozen pieces. At
that point I was right at my driveway and pulled in. I quickly got out of
the car, but noted no train in that direction.
--The time was very close to 7:15 p.m.
--The meteor passed just slightly left of Sirius and was definitely
brighter than that star.
--The meteor maintained a green color even when far below the tinting at
the top of my windshield.
--From where I sit, the top of the windshield lets me see everything up to
about 35 degrees above the horizon.
--The tops of the trees extend up to about 10 degrees above the horizon.
--An estimate from my driveway to about the spot in the road where I think
I first saw the meteor is about 2-4 seconds (This is rough because I didn't
break fast enough last night and almost missed the driveway thanks to the
Micah A. Hanks
The Gralien Report
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 09:17 EST
the wake of the the horrific Hatian Earthquake that occurred yesterday,
news sources have been alerting people around the world to the
extremities of the disaster at hand. Please take time today to send
thoughts and prayers to those who have been devastated by this terrible
act of nature, and consider helping with relief efforts in some
capacity, for which coordination will begin in the days to come.
In the meantime, while damage repair takes place here on Terra Firma, Space.com
reported on a series of two "strange near-Earth objects" that drifted
close to home in the wee hours Wednesday morning. Due to several
strange elements pertaining to the object's path (at present, it is
believed to be an asteroid), there was nonetheless speculation that it
may have been "artificial," likely a satellite or portion of some other
man-made craft sent into orbit in the past.
Those of you who own amateur skywatching equipment haven't
missed your opportunity yet, however. 2010 AL30, as the object has been
called, "is not the only space rock passing relatively close by Earth
this week," the website confirms. "Another recently discovered object,
known as 2010 AG30, will zip by the planet on Thursday. But that
asteroid is about 43 feet (13 meters) wide, and will pass by at a
comfortable distance of about 650,000 miles (1 million km) from Earth,
NASA scientists said."
Sightings of such objects no doubt lend themselves to
theories and speculation involving UFOs. For instance, back in 2006, an
unusual (and unidentified) object seen orbiting near the Space Shuttle
caused so much concern that a landing was postponed temporarily. The
report read as follows:
No one knows what it is - the mysterious gray round objectSpace Shuttle program manager Wayne Hale later suggested
orbiting near the space shuttle Atlantis at an altitude of 187 nautical
miles. Flight controllers first noticed the object early this morning
at 2:45 AM, and were so concerned they had the shuttle crew delay
stowing the KU TV antenna so the crew could downlink more video of the
it was merely a plastic bag that escaped from the shuttle's cargo bay.
Nonetheless, wording such as, "What is it? Is it something benign?" as
used around the same time by Fox News, can appear to indicate more than
Numerous videos showing various reflective debris in space has
been likened to seas of UFOs swimming around our space operations in
the past, although NASA presently denies that UFO craft are often
witnessed during spacewalks and other activities while in orbit.
Nonetheless, there are also the many reports issued by astronauts over
the years pertaining to strange objects seen outside Earth's
atmosphere, as shown in the videos below, the first of which features
Gordon Cooper, who claimed to see "hundreds" of high altitude craft
over a day and a half period, as well as a film being made of a small
Similarly, Buzz Aldrin described encountering UFOs in space:
At present, the 2010 AL30 is believed to be an asteroid;
however, aside from sporadic referrals to it being a "space rock",
NASA's official responses have been carefully worded to indicate that
the object, whatever it may be, remains unidentified.
The Associated Press
Wed, 18 Nov 2009 15:25 EST
basketball-sized chunk of ice crashed through the roof of a family's
Colorado home after apparently falling from an airplane passing
overhead. Danelle Hagan and her 9-year-old daughter were at home in
Brush on Saturday when they heard the kitchen ceiling come crashing
down. They were not injured.
"I hear a huge, what sounded like an explosion. And I look
over and my kitchen is basically in shambles," Hagan told KMGH-TV in
Denver. "It was very terrifying."
The Federal Aviation Administration was sending investigators
to the home to investigate whether the ice came from an airplane. The
Hagans put some of the ice in their freezer.
FAA spokesman Mike Fergus said Wednesday the ice chunk appears
to be "Rime ice," which can build up on the outside of a plane's
fuselage when it flies through cold and wet air.
Fergus says that it doesn't appear the ice was "blue ice," which comes from an airplane's toilet.
After investigators determine whether the ice came from a plane, Fergus
said they'll look at which planes are in the area at the time to see if
it's possible to tell which craft dropped the ice.
Fergus said that in cases of falling blue ice, FAA
investigators would inspect any plane that was in the area to make sure
it doesn't have a dangerous pressure leak. He said that ice falls from airplanes are alarming, but extremely rare.
He said the chances of getting hit by ice from a plane is "on the magnitude of a lightning strike."
Hagan's family is staying out of the house until it's repaired because
the crash loosened some asbestos. She says people were in the kitchen
just before the ice fell, so they're just glad to be OK.
"If we had been in that kitchen, it would have been devastating," Hagan said.
Comment: Extremely rare?
August 2007: Mysterious icy chunk smashes through roof in California
May 2007: Mysterious Chunk Of Ice Falls To Earth
January 2007: Car-destroying chunk may be icy meteor
January 2007: Ice Chunk Crashes Through Delaware Co. Home
April 2006: Ice crashes through college gym - No one is injured by the 2-foot chunk and no one knows yet where it came from
December 2005: Mysterious Ice Chunk Breaks Hole in Roof
December 2005: Ice chunk falls from sky in Japan
The Denver Channel
Fri, 15 Jan 2010 13:48 EST
It Wasn't A Bird. Was It A Plane? A Massive Piece Of Hail? An Ice Comet?
Brush, Colorado -- The mystery continues in Brush after something fell from the sky and crashed through Danelle Hagan's kitchen.
Initially, most involved thought it came from a plane, likely that
so-called "blue ice" that sometimes falls from commercial airliners.
There are now several new theories, including the possibility it may have been an "ice comet."
The Discovery Channel is investigating that possibility for an upcoming show set to air this spring.
Construction crews are working to restore Hagan's kitchen. It's
an older home, so restoration crews had to clean up some asbestos
before crews could start rebuilding.
It happened two months ago, on Nov. 14. Hagan and her
8-year-old daughter were at home in the living room when they heard
what they thought was an explosion in the kitchen. It turns out a
basketball-sized chunk of ice crashed through her kitchen ceiling --
destroying everything in its path.
Neither Hagan nor her daughter were injured.
Hagan saved a piece of the ice and put it in her freezer.
"And I assumed when the FAA came out to pick up the ice, along with
reviewing the radar, that it would be very clear-cut. And instead,
we've had about two months of the run-around at this point," said a
She believes a plane caused the damage.
Others, like renowned University of Denver astronomy professor
Dr. Robert Stencel, believe it may have been a massive piece of hail
known as megachryo meteorites. Stencel says it could be the product of
large scale climate changes. He says high atmospheric convection could
keep a chunk of ice above the clouds for a long period of time.
"We can probably rule out anything extraterrestrial. An icy
body in space is moving fairly fast relative to Earth. And encountering
our atmosphere -- it would burn up much like meteorites do. So the
chances of an ice ball reaching the ground, it would have to start out
enormously huge -- and we would see that coming on radar," said
Hagan and her insurance agent believe the only logical explanation is that it came from a commercial airliner.
"All the evidence leads to it coming from a commercial aircraft
flying into DIA on the approach corridor over northeastern Colorado and
specifically Ft. Morgan and Brush," said Allan Goetz with Goetz
Brush does sit right below the primary approach corridor for
air traffic into DIA coming from many cities in the Northeast and upper
The FAA did not return 7NEWS phone calls Friday, but a
spokesman has said in the past its findings up to this point have been
Hagan doesn't believe the FAA has ever tested the ice to
determine whether it includes human waste or chemicals that would prove
it is "blue ice."
"This is not an act of God. This is a mechanical failure," said Goetz.
Hagan has been out of her home for two months, living in a rental property.
"It was a weird Christmas this year. I have a 9-year-old now. We would just like to know what happened," said Hagan.
Meteor Flashing Through Utah Skies On November 18, 2009 (Another video)
Wed, 18 Nov 2009 19:53 EST
Latest Worldwide Meteor/Meteorite News
Tue, 07 Apr 2009 20:01 EDT
Bolide's duration was apprx. 1 second ending in a single brilliant
explosion bright enough to be visible goodly distances and likely well
into Nevada. Near Yuba City's Eastern portion of Zenith.Estimated
magnitude to be 3/4 full moon. Light curve is a clean single very large
pulse. No post explosion products noted on this first filming by the
PDT = April 7, 2009 at 0359:31
Examination of Handyavi frame records shows what appears to be a
single piece may have been discharged a short distance from the point
of explosion which became bright then faded out. Slow frame rate does
not allow good tracking of post explosion by-products.
Speculation on this unusual event....
The extremely steep & sharp light curve suggests this fireball
did not burn up. It may have just blown itself apart which would
account for the one or two(?) visible light particles afterward.
Pictures and updates:
Larry Stange, YCSentinel
Related? from Texas:
Do you have a guess to the source of your fireball. The reason I am
asking is I just had a second major bolide a few mintues ago since
This one this evening was very green with a bright terminal
burst.The one saturday night was white and about a third of the way
through it's flight it exploded and there was a stream of debris,with
about 8 luminus bodies, following the main fireball.
Both look to me to be earth grazers, my guess is the radiant is
somewhere between Virgo and Ophiuchus, maybe some where in the area of
Serpens Caput.This best I can pin it down at this time.Anyone have any
guesses to the source active?
Thomas DormanHorizon City,Texas--- On Tue, 4/7/09
Related? from California:
I am wondering if this is the same sighting I saw last night. 9:18 pm
(or shortly thereafter as I was on the phone at that time to my office and mentioned it....)
I am in Southern California... I was heading south on the 5 fwy
from the city of Orange... Large GREEN fireball heading from north to
south.... seemed to slow down and got brighter just before it send
out... very impressive to be so bright with the moon at 3/4 and being
in the middle of the lights of the city...
National Geographic News
Wed, 13 Jan 2010 11:44 EST
Like a modern-day Icarus, this newfound comet learned the hard way what happens when you fly too close to the sun.
Amateur astronomer Alan Watson discovered the small comet while pouring
over pictures taken in December 2009 by NASA's Solar Terrestrial
Relations Observatory, or STEREO. (See pictures of the sun taken by spacecraft.)
The space agency's orbiting Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO)
then witnessed the bright, unnamed comet get vaporized on January 3.
(Related picture: "Sun Probe Spies New Periodic Comet.")
SOHO was able to watch the comet plunging toward the sun thanks to its
occulting disk, seen as an opaque circle at the center of the images.
The disk creates an artificial solar eclipse, blocking out direct glare
from the sun to reveal the fainter solar corona and surrounding stars,
planets, and other objects.
Zooming in from the left, as seen by SOHO, the comet starts to
dissolve as it nears the sun, and it never reappears from behind the
Astronomers think the comet must have been one of the
so-called Kreutz sungrazers, a family of bright comets with orbits that
take them within 50,000 to 300,000 miles (80,470 to 482,800 kilometers)
of the sun's surface.
"There were particularly spectacular Kreutz sungrazers in
1843, 1880, and 1882, and again in 1963, 1965, and 1970," comet expert
Brian Marsden, director emeritus of the International Astronomical
Union's Minor Planet Center, said in an email.
The comets are named after Heinrich Kreutz, a German astronomer who studied the 19th-century sungrazers, Marsden said.
If the comets aren't destroyed outright by their close solar
encounters, the Kreutz members can break into smaller fragments that go
on to become new sungrazers.
"In 1967 I demonstrated that it was almost certain that the
1882 and 1965 members had broken off from each other at their previous
approach to the sun," Marsden said.
And since 1979, sun-watching space missions have been keeping
an eye on the latest additions to and subtractions from the Kreutz
"SOHO in particular has recorded some 1,500 of them since
1996," Marsden said. "One about this bright appears about once a year."
Mon, 18 Jan 2010 16:41 EST
Something awfully curious is happening 250 million miles away in the
asteroid belt. Nothing quite like it has ever been seen before.
There's a newly discovered object that superficially looks like a comet but lives among the asteroids.
The distinction? Comets swoop along elliptical orbits close in
to the sun and grow long gaseous and dusty tails as ices sublimate off
their solid nucleus and release dust. But asteroids are mostly in more
circular orbits and are not normally expected to be as volatile as
The puzzling object was discovered on January 6 by the Lincoln
Near-Earth Asteroid Research (LINEAR) sky survey. The object appears to
be in an orbit inside the main asteroid belt -- not a place where
comets dwell. A member of the asteroid belt has never before been seen
erupting a "tail."
One possibility is that we are witnessing a never-before-seen collision between two asteroids that ejected a dust plume.
Another possibility is that an asteroid containing ices experienced a
short-lived outburst. Or, a fragile icy and stony nucleus simply came
unglued and the remnants are being scattered by the pressure of the
(Or perhaps extraterrestrials are playing a real version of the popular 1980's arcade game Asteroids.) No doubt there will be many more observations of this strange object in the near future, so stay tuned.
Tue, 31 Mar 2009 04:33 EDT
About 6:34 am. on March 31, 2009, a white to greenish fireball flew
across the sky of Calgary, Alberta. From what I saw, the fireball was
going from the NW to the SE over Calgary before it broke apart and
burned out. 660 News covers the story as their phone lines were flooded
in with eye witnesses in morning rush hour traffic.
Mon, 18 Jan 2010 03:59 EST
Aucklanders thought aliens were about to land on Saturday night, while
others feared a comet was going to collide with the Earth.
A fiery orange object was seen over the city, and the Auckland
Observatory was besieged by calls from residents wanting to know what
It turned out the object was not a threat to life as
we know it, but the vapour trail of a plane, lit up by the sun which
was just below the horizon.
The observatory says the lights are quite common at this time of year.
Click here to view the video.
The Vike Factor (Into the Paranormal)
Mon, 18 Jan 2010 14:13 EST
Date: January 18, 2010
Time: Approx: 5:15 p.m.
Location of Sighting: Southern skies Manchester, Pennsylvania
Number of witnesses: 3
Number of Objects: 1
Shape of Objects: Ball.
Full Description of Event/Sighting: I'm
not sure what this was, or if it is even a UFO parse. I had my kids
with me sitting at the Giant parking lot, my oldest (9) in the front
seat. I see a falling ball of light to the south and just that second,
my son sees it too. He asks me if I seen that "planet fall from the
sky?" I told him I saw it too.
Basically this huge ball of light came out of nowhere
in the middle of the sky, fell very quickly to the Earth, then just
vanished. My friend who lives adjacent to York College in York City
seen this as well. I recently started inquiring if anyone else was
witness. I'm hoping I can figure something out soon.
Thu, 24 Sep 2009 10:47 EDT
The sight of the solar system's biggest planet being battered by the broken remains of a comet
in 1994 left a vivid reminder of our own planet's vulnerability. The
scars that remained after the series of giant impacts on Jupiter were
more prominent even than its great red spot, and remained visible for
This dramatic spectacle was enough to loosen government purse
strings, and the funding has supported telescope surveys to hunt down
asteroids that could wallop us. A decade and a half after comet
Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashed into Jupiter, those surveys have catalogued
more than 80 per cent of the near-Earth asteroids larger than 1
Now we have seen the results of the first exercise ever to
test plans for what to do if an asteroid is on collision course with
Earth (see Asteroid attack: Putting Earth's defences to the test), and they do not inspire confidence. We still have a long way to go before we can say we are prepared for this cosmic threat.
Improved early-warning capabilities are one cost-effective solution.
There are telescopes on the drawing board that could find objects as
small as 140 metres in diameter. That's a big advance on what we can do
now, even if objects 30 to 50 metres across are more numerous and
therefore arguably more dangerous.
More in-depth exercises are needed too, to hone our plans for
communication and coordination should a city find itself in the target
zone of an incoming asteroid.
Better still, of course, would be having the capability to
fend off dangerous asteroids. It has long been recognised that the
quick and dirty way to do this is to explode a nuclear bomb nearby to
blast the asteroid off-course. That means we should revisit the
international treaties that prohibit the launching of nukes into space,
and try to come up with carefully drafted wording to allow their use if
an asteroid threatens.
Whatever action is taken needs to be proportionate to the risk. The likelihood of being mashed by a skyscraper-sized object
is tiny compared to the risk of routine insults from hurricanes,
earthquakes and other natural disasters of entirely terrestrial origin.
Last year such events killed 236,000 people and caused damage worth $181 billion.
Resources are finite, and any plans to construct cosmic defences need
to be measured against down-to-earth goals. When assessing the case for
a better census of dangerous asteroids and their orbits, for example,
let's not forget that this could also help us understand how our solar
system came to be.
As far as preparing for doomsday, it's the terrestrial threats
that should be at the front of planners' minds. Blueprints for
evacuation and medical help to meet these threats will serve us equally
well if a city is ever unlucky enough to get pummelled by an impactor.
Twilight meteor reported Monday in Maryland
The Baltimore Sun
Tue, 19 Jan 2010 11:38 EST
The Tuesday morning mail contained the following report from a reader
in Reisterstown, Md. He and his wife spotted a bright meteor to their
south after sunset on Monday evening. The crescent moon and planet
Jupiter were visible in the southwest.
Here's his report, including a meteor photo he says resembles
what he saw. If anyone else spotted the same object, please leave us a
comment and describe what you saw. Please include the time, your
location, the direction you were looking, the direction of flight, the
object's approximate height above the horizon (in degrees, if possible;
zero degrees is on the horizon, 90 degrees is straight up) and anything
else you can remember.
Thanks, Henry. I don't think this was space debris
wife and I believe we saw a fireball meteor yesterday. It was at 5:38
Monday afternoon, January 18. It was twilight and only the moon and one
planet were visible in the sky, which was still blue and not yet black.
For about 3 to 5 seconds, the meteor descended down in the south,
looking from Reisterstown, MD towards the BWI area.
When I saw it, I said to my wife, "Look there!" And she
quickly turned her head and was able to see the trail. "What was that?"
she said, astonished. Usually, meteor don't last that long.
"We weren't sure if it was some space debris, a meteor or a firework. The smoke trail last about four minutes.
"I have enclosed a picture I found on the web that looks like
what I saw. I too saw a brilliant bluish area that shed off secondary
streams of light. Again, this is not my picture, but represents what I
"There was no sonic boom as in your report from a year or two
ago. Have other people seen this? - HenryJan. 18, 2010 meteor
re-entering the atmosphere. It seems to have been moving too rapidly.
And while it may have appeared to be descending over BWI, the meteor
was probably much higher and much farther from the observer than it
seemed. So it's likely observers in Southern Maryland, Virginia and
perhaps even North Carolina saw the same thing, slightly higher above
So, if you saw this thing, drop us a comment. Thanks.
Here (right) is a photo of the smoke trail left by last night's meteor,
used with permission from the photographer, Anthony Nugnes, of Silver
Spring, Md. (I increased the contrast a bit to make the trail more
clearly visible.) He writes:
"I consulted with William E. Smith (astronomy buff) ofProperty owners in Maryland with security cameras that
Bowie, MD and he stated the following: 'Good shots of the trail. Looks
like you've witnessed a bolide, a possible member of The Coma Berenicid
meteor shower which peaks tonight. (1/18)'"
face toward the west or southwest may want to check their tapes to see
if they caught the fireball. If so, send the video files along and I'll
post them. Thanks.
Here's another photo of the meteor's smoke trail. The snake-line shape is due to high-altitude winds blowing the smoke around.
It was taken by Tom Cinelli's wife (Tom, you need to give us
her name!). He said it was taken "using a zoom lens from our home in
Lothian, Md. at about 5:40 p.m. It was traveling west at say about 35
degrees above the horizon. Any idea of where it landed, or did it burn
up?" Tom asks.
No, but readers in southern Virginia say they saw it to their
northeast, which - since most observers in Maryland, Pa., and NJ put it
to their southwest -would place the meteor somewhere in northern
Viginia, I would guess.
Most of these things burn up as they come down, and nothing is ever found. But clearly not all.
The Vike Factor (Into the Paranormal)
Tue, 19 Jan 2010 18:58 EST
Date: January 18, 2010
Time: Approx: 5:40 p.m.
Location of Sighting: New Hope, PA.
Number of witnesses: two
Number of Objects: 1
Shape of Objects: Large Ball of fire falling from the sky.
Full Description of Event/Sighting: Hi
Brian, My friend and I were driving South on Route 202 in New Hope on
1/18/10, around 5:40 p.m., when all of a sudden I noticed a large ball
of fire falling from the sky directly in front of us. It was moving
quickly and seemed to burn out before hitting the ground. At first I
thought it was a plane and then I realized it was too small, but
definitely too large to be a falling star.
I quickly mentioned it to my friend who said she saw
it as well, but wasn't able to get the words out before I did. We
couldn't believe what we had seen. A minute later we saw a smoke trail
where the ball of fire had been. Was it a meteor? Please let me know if
anyone figures out what this sighting was. Thanks.
Date: January 18, 2010
Time: 5:37 p.m.
My husband, myself and Grandson also saw exactly what you
indicated last night at 5:37pm. I live in Newark, Delaware and was on
Rt. 4 driving home (right next to the new Barclays Credit Card Center)
and out of no where this huge ball of bright white light descended from
the sky very quickly and fell south west down. When I pulled up to my
sister's house (2 minutes later) we told her what happened and looked
outside and could see a smoke trail where this thing traveled.
I've been all over the internet last night, looking for anyone
else who witnessed this and this morning I found you. I know others
have had to see it and I'd sure like to know what we saw!
Anymore news please let me know.
Date: January 18, 2010
Time: Approx: 5:30 p.m.
Brian, I saw the falling ball of light too on January 18th. I
thought it was closer to 5:30 PM, but I'm not sure. I didn't have any
timepieces on me. I live in Collegeville, PA, and I saw it fall from
the sky west of me. It happened so fast, and no one else was around. I
started to doubt my own eyes. I waited to hear a sound, and I heard
nothing. I kept checking the news and I saw nothing about it.
I've never been on your website before. When I didn't see
anything on the news I began doing internet searches, and then your
website came up with a sighting.
Since nothing seems to have hit the ground I wonder if it was space junk burning up.
Date: January 18, 2010
Mr. Vike, My fiancé and I were walking Monday evening and saw
the ball of light that you described. My fiancé saw it a few seconds
before I did and he said he saw blue and green colors before it turned
a yellow color. I saw the yellow ball of light before it disappeared.
We couldn't believe our eyes and I wondered if anyone else saw it. When
I got to work I told a friend and she looked on the internet and found
your article. We live in Six Mile Run, PA.
It's about 10 miles from the town of Saxton and approximately
15 miles from Breezewood. According to the Baltimore Sun, there were
several sightings in Maryland. It's amazing to think we were in the
right place at the right time to see a rare occurrence such as this.
Jason Adams and Alex Trevino
Thu, 21 Jan 2010 02:50 EST
Lorton -- A meteorite, the size of a mango, punched through the ceiling of the Williamsburg Square Family Practice Office in Lorton.
Dr. Marc Gullani says, "Literally an explosion went off."
Dr. Frank Ciampi tells 9NEWS NOW he thought the book shelves fell down.
He says, "It came from the roof, through the fire wall through the ceiling and hit the ground right here."
The meteorite came down with such force, it pushed ceiling tile
underneath the carpet and cut into the concrete of the exam room.
9NEWS NOW went to the experts at the Smithsonian Museum of
Natural History, with the extraterrestrial particles inside a box. For
Meteorite Scientists Linda Welzenbach and Dr. Cory Corrigan, it was a
Dr. Welzenbach says, "As I recall, this will be the fourth fall in Virginia."
He adds, "It's got a fusion crust. This is what's happened when it's
passed the atmosphere, passing very quickly through the atmosphere."
A committee of planetary scientists are expected to officially recognize meterorite in Lorton.
The Baltimore Sun
Wed, 20 Jan 2010 22:59 EST
A Washington DC television station is reporting
an apparent meteorite fall in Lorton, Va. The space rock, which has
been taken to the Smithsonian Institution, crashed through the roof of
a dentist's office at around 5:45 p.m. on Monday, narrowly missing
patients and staff.
The reported time of the fall matches closely the time that
scores of people from New Jersey to southern Virginia reported they saw
a bright meteor fall, leaving a writhing smoke trail in the twilight
sky. The Baltimore Sun's WeatherBlog has received more than 100 reports of the fall from observers.
The story on the Web site of WUSA9 in Washington says the mango-sized
meteorite crashed through the roof and acoustical tiles of the
Williamsburg Square Family Practice office in Lorton. Dr. Frank Ciampi
told the station the crash was so loud he thought bookshelves had
Experts at the Smithsonian Institution's National
Museum of Natural History, interviewed by the station, confirmed the
fractured meteorite was a stony "chondrite" meteorite, with a dark
fusion crust formed by the heat of its passage through the atmosphere.
Professional meteorite hunter Steve Arnold
says he is on his way to Virginia. "I hope to find some other pieces,"
he said in email to the WeatherBlog. Arnold also took part in the
apparently unsuccessful hunt for fragments of the meteor that fell
somewhere along the Mason-Dixon line north of Baltimore last July 6. That fall was accompanied by a sonic boom that startled residents in Maryland and Pennsylvania.
The Smithsonian museum's Linda Welzenbach said the Lorton meteorite is
believed to be only the fourth confirmed meteorite fall in Virginia's
New Research Suggests that Near-Earth Encounters can "Shake" Asteroids
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Wed, 20 Jan 2010 17:00 EST
Cambridge, Massachusetts - For decades, astronomers have analyzed the
impact that asteroids could have on Earth. New research by MIT
Professor of Planetary Science Richard Binzel examines the opposite
scenario: that Earth has considerable influence on asteroids - and from
a distance much larger than previously thought. The finding helps
answer an elusive, decades-long question about where most meteorites
come from before they fall to Earth and also opens the door to a new
field study of asteroid seismology.
By analyzing telescopic measurements of near-Earth asteroids
(NEAs), or asteroids that come within 30 million miles of Earth, Binzel
has determined that if an NEA travels within a certain range of Earth,
roughly one-quarter of the distance between Earth and the moon, it can
experience a "seismic shake" strong enough to bring fresh material
called "regolith" to its surface. These rarely seen "fresh asteroids"
have long interested astronomers because their spectral fingerprints,
or how they reflect different wavelengths of light, match 80 percent of
all meteorites that fall to Earth, according to a paper by Binzel
appearing in the Jan. 21 issue of Nature. The paper suggests that Earth's gravitational pull and tidal forces create these seismic tremors.
By hypothesizing about the cause of the fresh surfaces of some NEAs,
Binzel and his colleagues have tried to solve a decades-long conundrum
about why these fresh asteroids are not seen in the main asteroid belt,
which is between Mars and Jupiter. They believe this is because the
fresh surfaces are the result of a close encounter with Earth, which
obviously wouldn't be the case with an object in the main asteroid
belt. Only those few objects that have ventured recently inside the
moon's orbital distance and have experienced a "fresh shake" match
freshly fallen meteorites measured in the laboratory, Binzel said.
Clark Chapman, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research
Institute in Colorado, believes Binzel's work is part of a "revolution
in asteroid science" over the past five years that considers the
possibility that something other than collisions can affect asteroid
How they did it: Binzel's team used a large NASA telescope in
Hawaii to collect information on NEAs, including a huge amount of
spectral fingerprint data. Analyzing this data, the group examined
where a sample of 95 NEAs had been during the past 500,000 years,
tracing their orbits to see how close they'd come to Earth. They
discovered that 75 NEAs in the sample had passed well inside the moon's
distance within the past 500,000 years, including all 20 fresh
asteroids in the sample.
Binzel next determined that an asteroid traveling within a
distance equal to 16 times the Earth's radius (about one-quarter of the
distance to the moon) appears to experience vibrations strong enough to
create fresh surface material. He reached that figure based on his
finding that about one-quarter of NEAs are fresh, as well as two known
facts - that the space weathering process that ages regolith can happen
in less than one million years, and that about one-quarter of NEAs come
within 16 Earth radii in one million years.
Before now, people thought an asteroid had to come within one to two Earth radii to undergo significant physical change.
Next steps: Many details about the shaking process remain
unknown, including what exactly it is about Earth that shakes the
asteroids, and why this happens from a distance as far away as 16 Earth
radii. What is certain is that the conditions depend on complex factors
such as the velocity and duration of the encounter, the asteroid's
shape and the nature of the preexisting regolith. "The exact trigger
distance depends on all those seismology factors that are the totally
new and interesting area for cutting edge research," Binzel said.
Further research might include computer simulations, ground
observations and sending probes to look at the surfaces of asteroids.
Binzel's next steps will be to try to discover counterexamples to his
findings or additional examples to support it. He may also investigate
whether other planets like Venus or Mars affect asteroids that venture
close to them.
Thu, 21 Jan 2010 07:25 EST
tiny asteroid that buzzed Earth last week highlighted our planet's
vulnerability to objects whose peculiar orbits put them in a game of
hide-and-seek with us.
An Earth-based telescope spotted the 10-metre space rock
hurtling our way just three days before a near miss on 13 January, when
it flew by at just one-third of the distance to the moon (see Object headed towards Earth an asteroid, not junk).
The asteroid is never expected to hit Earth and would burn up before
hitting the ground in any case. But its unusual orbit (see diagram)
seems ingeniously designed to evade our surveys. It is likely that a
handful of objects large enough to cause harm are hiding under similar
Large asteroids are relatively easy to spot because they reflect the most sunlight. But smaller asteroids - which can still damage Earth
if they span at least 30 to 50 metres - are usually too dim for
telescopes to detect except during brief close approaches to Earth. For
a typical near-Earth asteroid, these occurrences are a few years or
However, last week's unexpected visitor, called 2010 AL30,
kept far enough from Earth to be invisible for more than a century. The
prolonged avoidance occurred because the period of its solar orbit was
366 days - very close to Earth's year (though the close pass shifted
the space rock into a 390-day orbit). Like a slightly slower race car
that is periodically lapped by its competitor on a circular track, it
stays far from Earth for long stretches.
"2010 AL30 may become a sort of 'poster child' for hiding asteroids," says Alan Harris of the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Similar "synchronised" asteroids may be hiding with periods of
very close to two, three, four years and so on, Harris says. Those with
periods of about four years pose the greatest risk to Earth, because
they would be in sync with both Earth and Jupiter, says Timothy Spahr
of the Minor Planet Center
in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Such asteroids would be particularly
influenced by Jupiter's gravity, which could nudge them onto a
collision course with Earth.
Asteroids with non-synchronous orbits can also hide. Those
with orbits mostly interior to Earth's - called Aten asteroids - spend
most of their time in the glare of the sun as seen from Earth, so
telescopes have trouble spotting them.
But Atens would be easier to spot if a telescope were positioned closer to the sun - in an orbit near Venus's, say.
Such a telescope would also make it harder for asteroids to hide in
synchronised orbits, says Harris. He admits that the cost of such a
mission would be high, given the small fraction of asteroids likely to
be in synchronised orbits. "On the other hand, I suppose I'd rather
spend money on that than on strip-search scanners at airports to detect crotch-bombers, which constitute a similar level of cost and risk to society," he says. A US National Research Council report evaluating asteroid-hunting strategies, including the use of space telescopes, is due soon.
But even if no observatories are placed near Venus, the newly launched Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE)
could spot any big Earth-synchronised asteroids - those larger than 1
kilometre across. Large asteroids in orbits like 2010 AL30's, at about
Earth's distance from the sun or closer, would be warm and bright in
the infrared, making them "a piece of cake" for WISE to spot, Spahr
says. However, even WISE will only be able to spot a small fraction of
any mid-sized asteroids in these orbits, he says.
Despite our best efforts, the majority of hidden asteroids are
too small and dim to be detected until they are practically on top of
us - regardless of their orbits. "The sad part is, the bulk of the
population is invisible to us most of the time," Spahr says.
Thu, 21 Jan 2010 09:16 EST
Much later, after the hole in the roof had been fixed and the debris
cleaned up, after the cause of the damage finally had become clear,
Frank Ciampi wondered: What are the odds?
He is a doctor. He has worked for 18 years in the two-story
building in Lorton that houses the Williamsburg Square Family Practice,
in the 9500 block of Richmond Highway. He spends his days walking in
and out of examining rooms, seeing patients.
What are the chances, as he goes about his routine, that he'll get hit by a meteorite?
It almost happened.
"I was in my office doing charts," Ciampi recalled. It was
Monday, a little after 5:30 p.m. He was on the building's second floor.
"And I heard a loud boom, almost like a small explosion."
At first, he said, he thought a bookcase had toppled nextdoor.
"So I ran toward the office. And then I saw all the debris in the
hallway," he said.
The floor just outside examination room No. 2 -- about
10 feet from where Ciampi had been doing paperwork -- was littered with
small pieces of wood, plaster and insulation. Upon inspection, more
debris lay inside the room. He saw three chunks of stone on the floor
that together formed a rock about the size of a tennis ball, with a
glassy-smooth surface. Then he saw a hole about the size of the rock in
the tile ceiling, and a tear in the maroon carpet where the rock had
"The first thing we thought was maybe something had fallen from a plane," Ciampi said.
For most of the day, the 10 examination rooms used by Ciampi and two
other medical professionals in the practice had been occupied by
patients. Had the falling object crashed through the ceiling a little
earlier, it might have killed someone.
"I thank God," Ciampi said.
Later, he said, "I was up all night, wondering what it was." No
one else in the practice could figure it out, either. Then on Tuesday,
the office manager, Rhonda Lawrence, offered a suggestion from her
husband Jeffrey, who has a background in geology.
"Jeff said that maybe it was a meteorite," Ciampi said. "We didn't
think of that. You know, a meteorite -- that's not the first thing you
Cari Corrigan, a planetary scientist at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of Natural History, confirmed it.
"It's beautiful," she gushed on Wednesday, after examining the rock.
"The first thing we look at is what's called the fusion crust
on the outside," she said. "It's kind of a black, shiny coating,
because when it passes through the atmosphere, it's melting a little at
a time. So it's like an outer layer of glass, of melted rock."
That, plus flecks of metal in the rock, confirmed it had come from space, she said.
Corrigan said small meteorites hit Earth "fairly often." "We're
bombarded by stuff like that all the time," she said. Since most of the
planet's surface is uninhabited, most meteorites land a long, long way
from people. And most of those that do hit inhabited areas go
unnoticed, she said.
Every now and then, though, there's a landing like the one in
Lorton. She said the meteorite weighs just over a half pound and
probably was traveling about 220 mph when it hit the building.
If the folks at the medical practice want her to, Corrigan
said, she will submit the stone to the Meteorite Nomenclature
"They'll give it an official name and an official description
and it'll go on the books as being an official meteorite," she said. "I
would imagine it would be called the Lorton, Va., Meteorite, or
something like that."
Marc Gallini and Dr. Frank Ciampi are interviewed about a meteorite
strike at the Williamsburg Square Family Practice in Lorton, VA. Video
Fri, 22 Jan 2010 18:25 EST
Washington - The United States is doing little to defend the planet
against potentially devastating asteroids and is not doing the basic
searches that Congress has ordered, according to a report released on
While most of the really big and obvious threats are being
found, almost nothing is being done to find the smaller objects that
are arguably a more likely threat, the strongly worded report from the
National Academy of Sciences said.
"It means we are not looking for the small ones which can
cause huge damage on earth," astronomer Mike A'Hearn of the University
of Maryland, who helped chair the committee that wrote the report, said
in a telephone interview.
"Why has nothing been done? I don't know," added A'Hearn, who
was principal investigator of NASA'S 2005 Deep Impact mission to knock
open the comet 9P/Tempel.
He said it was not clear whether the administration of
President Barack Obama, who has declared his support for science but is
struggling with an economic downturn and budget deficits, would work
any harder to do more.
The United States spends about $4 million a year looking for
near-Earth objects, or NEOs, that might come too close. In 2005,
Congress ordered a broader survey to find 90 percent of near-Earth
objects 140 metres (460 feet) in diameter or greater.
Something this big could cause enormous regional damage.
But Congress has not funded this search and neither former President George W. Bush nor Obama have asked for it.
A'Hearn's committee made several recommendations.
"They are all expensive compared to what we are spending now.
Compared to other things the country is spending money on they aren't
expensive," he said.
"The minimal sensible program is probably two and a half times larger than the current program," he added.
To simply do what Congress asked in 2005 would likely cost $4 million, A'Hearn said.
And less than $1 million is being spent to study what could be
done if it looked like something destructive was headed toward the
Earth, the report found.
At the very least, civil defense measures should be planned,
A'Hearn said. "For an object up to 50 to 75 metres (164 to 246 feet),
civil defense is the right answer. You simply evacuate the area where
it going to hit," he said -- although he noted how difficult it is to
evacuate areas where hurricanes are bearing down.
An object that size would create the equivalent of a nuclear
explosion in the sky, blowing down trees, buildings and killing animals
and people underneath it.
Larger, more dangerous comets or asteroids could be deflected
or blown up, but it would take years of planning to do so. And no one
has systematically looked at the diplomacy and politics that would be
"It wouldn't be a dramatic change in defense department budget
to develop the capability to destroy near-Earth objects. On the other
hand, there may be other countries that might not trust us to do it
right," A'Hearn said.
Or a program could be interpreted as a weapons program and a
threat, so diplomacy would be needed to ensure international
cooperation and acceptance, A'Hearn said.
A'Hearn said he was not sure if Obama's declared support of
science would extend to this program, or whether new space agency
administrator Charlie Bolden would fight for it.
"The administration and the NASA administrator say nice words about science but it takes a while to implement things," he said.
Fri, 22 Jan 2010 16:27 EST
we ready to act if an asteroid or comet were to pose a threat to our
planet? No, says a new report from the National Research Council. Plus,
we don't have the resources in place to detect all the possible
dangerous objects out there. The report lays out options NASA could
follow to detect more near-Earth objects (NEOs) that could potentially
cross Earth's orbit, and says the $4 million the U.S. spends annually
to search for NEOs is insufficient to meet a congressionally mandated
requirement to detect NEOs that could threaten Earth. "To do what
Congress mandated NASA to do is going to take new technology, bigger
telescopes with wider fields," said Don Yeomans, Manager of NASA's Near
Earth Object Program Office, speaking at the American Geophysical Union
conference last month.
However, Yeomans said work is being done to improve the
quality and quantity of the search for potentially dangerous asteroids
and comets. "We have a long term goal to have three more 1.8 meter
telescopes," he said, "and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope with an
8.4 meter aperture in 2016. Once these new facilities are in place, the
data input will be like drinking from a fire hose, and the rate of
warnings will go up by a factor of 40."
But getting all these facilities, and more, online and running will take continued and additional funding.
Congress mandated in 2005 that NASA discover 90 percent of NEOs whose
diameter is 140 meters or greater by 2020, and asked the National
Research Council in 2008 to form a committee to determine the optimum
approach to doing so. In an interim report released last year, the
committee concluded that it was impossible for NASA to meet that goal,
since Congress has not appropriated new funds for the survey nor has
the administration asked for them.
But this issue isn't and shouldn't be strictly left to NASA, said
former astronaut Rusty Schweickart, also speaking at the AGU
conference. "There's the geopolitical misconception that NASA is taking
care of it," he said. "They aren't and this is an international issue."
Schweickart said making decisions on how to mitigate the threat once a
space rock already on the way is too late, and that all the decisions
of what will be done, and how, need to be made now. "The real issue
here is getting international cooperation, so we can - in a coordinated
way - decide what to do and act before it is too late," he said. "If we
procrastinate and argue about this, we'll argue our way past the point
of where it too late and we'll take the hit."
But this report deals with NASA, and committee from the NRC
lays out two approaches that would allow NASA to complete its goal soon
after the 2020 deadline; the approach chosen would depend on the
priority policymakers attach to spotting NEOs. If finishing NASA's
survey as close as possible to the original 2020 deadline is considered
most important, a mission using a space-based telescope conducted in
concert with observations from a suitable ground-based telescope is the
best approach, the report says. If conserving costs is deemed most
important, the use of a ground-based telescope only is preferable.
The report also recommends that NASA monitor for smaller objects, and
recommends that immediate action be taken to ensure the continued
operation of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, and support a
program at the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex. Although
these facilities cannot discover NEOs, they play an important role in
accurately determining the orbits and characterizing the properties of
Schweikart quoted Don Yeomans as saying the three most important things
about asteroid mitigation is to find them early, find them early and
find them early.
"We have the technology today to move an asteroid," Schweikart said.
"We just need time. It doesn't take a huge spacecraft to do the job of
altering an asteroid's course. It just takes time. And the earlier we
could send a spacecraft to either move or hit an asteroid, the less it
will cost. We could spend a few hundred million dollars to avoid a $4
But the report put out by the NRC stresses the methods for
asteroid/comet defense are new and still immature. The committee agreed
that with sufficient warning, a suite of four types of mitigation is
adequate to meet the threat from all NEOs, except the most energetic
- Civil defense (evacuation, sheltering in place, providing
emergency infrastructure) is a cost-effective mitigation measure for
saving lives from the smallest NEO impact events and is a necessary
part of mitigation for larger events.
- "Slow push" or "slow pull" methods use a spacecraft to exert
force on the target object to gradually change its orbit to avoid
collision with the Earth. This technique is practical only for small
NEOs (tens of meters to roughly 100 meters in diameter) or possibly for
medium-sized objects (hundreds of meters), but would likely require
decades of warning. Of the slow push/pull techniques, the gravity
tractor appears to be by far the closest to technological readiness.
- Kinetic methods, which fly a spacecraft into the NEO to
change its orbit, could defend against moderately sized objects (many
hundreds of meters to 1 kilometer in diameter), but also may require
decades of warning time.
- Nuclear explosions are the only current, practical means for
dealing with large NEOs (diameters greater than 1 kilometer) or as a
backup for smaller ones if other methods were to fail.
Although all of these methods are conceptually valid, none is now ready
to implement on short notice, the report says. Civil defense and
kinetic impactors are probably the closest to readiness, but even these
require additional study prior to reliance on them.
Fireball' seen falling over Buchans, Newfoundland, Canada
The Vike Factor (Into the Paranormal)
Sat, 23 Jan 2010 10:13 EST
Date: January 21, 2010
Time: 5:01 - 5:16 p.m.
Location of Sighting: Buchans, Newfoundland, Canada.
Number of witnesses: 5
Number of Objects: 1
Shape of Objects: Round Orange Ball.
Full Description of Event/Sighting:
Coming out of work, I looked up to the sky. At first it looked as if an
airplane had exploded and was plummeting to earth. It was in my mind a
'fireball'. There was a tail, like white exhaust. It declined at a
constant speed. I went to pick up my friend and we followed. At 5:16 is
was finally at the horizon. We have no idea what it was and wish to
find out. Unfortunately I had nothing on me at the time to take a photo
or video. If this can be explained, we would love to know. Thanks.
US: Bluish/Green Object Falling Out of the Sky Over San Diego, California
The Vike Factor (Into the Paranormal)
Sat, 23 Jan 2010 10:13 EST
Date: January 18, 2010
Time: Approx: 9:00 p.m.
Hi, I am from San Diego California and I saw a familiar light in the
sky falling. It was bluish/green and the time was about 9:00pm, it was
weird. I wonder what it was? A buddy and I were driving north bound and
we noticed this light falling extremely fast? Please let me know if you
find more details.
Hi Brian, thanks for taking an interest. It was January 18,
2010 at approximately 9:00pm. The falling object fell for about 1.5
seconds. I did not notice any trail behind it. Now that I remember the
passenger said he had seen it in the sky and that he thought it was a
But, that it just suddenly dropped, and that's when I
noticed (the driver). I was driving so I didn't see it until it was a
bright light and that's why it caught my attention. We couldn't hear
anything because we were inside a car driving and listening to music.
If you have any other questions please feel free to ask!
Thu, 21 Jan 2010 18:34 EST
small meteorite fell from the sky and crashed through the roof of a
doctor's office in Virginia, but luckily no one was hit, experts say.
The half-pound meteorite struck the Lorton, Va.-based office
of Dr. Frank Ciampi, a general practice physician, on Monday evening
while he was on the second floor of his two-story building.
"It went through the roof. It through one wall partition and
then passed through a particle board ceiling into the floor of an
examination room," said Linda Welzenbach, manager of the meteorite
collection at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, which
confirmed that the object was indeed a meteorite from outer space.
"It's not really big. It's about the size of your fist."
It may be small, but the space rock packed a big
wallop when it struck the doctor's office at up to 200 mph, Welzenbach
told SPACE.com. It broke apart when it hit the concrete floor of the
examination room, she added.
Witnesses described the crash as sounding like a bookshelf
falling over, she added. Ciampi's practice in Lorton is about 14 miles
south of the museum, which is in Washington, D.C.
"Apparently, it was quite loud," Welzenbach said.
No one in the office was hurt when the space rock fell. The
meteorite split into several pieces when it hit the ground floor,
Welzenbach said. But many people witnessed the brilliant fireball
created by the space rock as it streaked through the Earth's
atmosphere, she added.
A receptionist working in the office is married to a
geologist, who recognized the meteorite for what it was. The meteorite
was then carried by courier to the museum for confirmation, courtesy of
a local TV news station, Welzenbach said.
Welzenbach said the meteorite is a chondrite, typical of most
space rocks that fall to Earth. It is also a beautiful example of a
meteorite, she added.
"It's pretty, it's very fresh," added. "It's a shame that it broke on impact."
The meteorite is only the fourth reported to fall in Virginia.
The first documented crash in the state was reported in 1878, with the
most recent occurring in 1924, Welzenbach said.
The meteorite and its fragments may eventually be donated to the Smithsonian's collection, she added.
UK UFO Sightings
Tue, 26 Jan 2010 15:44 EST
Posted: January 25, 2010
Location of Sighting: Marlow Bucks
Date of Sighting: 24/1/10
Witness Statement: Having seen a ufo once
before when I was 16 and not reporting it witnessed with a mate, well
now 43 and I'm going to share this one with you. Location was Marlow
Park playground. It was my daughter aged 2 Jessie who said look, was
like a fire ball of orange light moving same speed as a plane it went
across the sky witnessed by a family and others in the park at the
time. I overheard two guys in the park saying try explaining that one
away!!! I just kept on focusing on it as the fire ball went off to a
dot in the distance. If anyone else saw it as well please report it as
well as I know it was witnessed by others.
I will report the other sighting I had one day but it
was long time ago more amazing it was a close encounter, as it was much
lower so I could see its shape lights ect. Keep looking and reporting!
Sun, 24 Jan 2010 16:44 EST
pummelling by icy comets could explain why Jupiter's two biggest moons
- apparently close kin - look so different inside.
At first glance, Ganymede and Callisto are virtually twins.
The colossal moons are similar in size and mass, and are a roughly
50:50 mixture of ice and rock.
However, visits by the Galileo spacecraft beginning in 1996
tell a different story. Ganymede's interior boasts a solid rock core
surrounded by a thick layer of ice, while ice and rock are still
mingled in parts of Callisto. That suggests Callisto was never warm
enough for its ice to melt and allow all of its rock to fall to the
centre and form a core.
Tides on moon
There is no shortage of explanations to account for this difference in
heat. The debris that formed Ganymede may have collided at higher
energies than the stuff that became Callisto, causing Ganymede to be
molten from the start. Or perhaps Ganymede once followed a different
orbit around Jupiter that raised tides on the moon, causing friction
that heated up the interior.
But the conditions in these scenarios must be just right to
reproduce the moons' interiors. "They're very restrictive stories,
because they're basically fine-tuning the models to get Ganymede to go
one way and Callisto the other," says Amy Barr of the Southwest
Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
Now Barr and Robin Canup, also of the Southwest Research
Institute, have come up with an alternative: the moons are different
because they were pummelled to differing degrees by wayward comets.
Comets would have bombarded the moons during what's known as
the "late heavy bombardment", a cataclysmic period between 3.9 and 3.8
billion years ago.
Barr and Canup modelled the effect of comet impacts and found
that the pressure of a shock wave can create a bowl-shaped region of
liquid water beneath the surface. Rock fragments in this water will
sink to the bottom of the liquid, and form a "blob" of rock that is
denser than the ice-rock mixture beneath it. Over thousands of years,
these rock blobs would slowly sink to the core of a moon.
Since Ganymede orbits Jupiter at almost half the distance of
Callisto, it would have experienced more collisions. That's because
Jupiter's gravity would have pulled in large quantities of passing
debris. As a result, the pair suggest, the less-battered Callisto was
not heated as much and the separation of ice and rock would have been
"The most attractive feature of their story is that it
[creates an effect] that really is a lot different," says David
Stevenson of Caltech. Extending the model to look at the interiors of
moons like Saturn's moon Titan, which has an interior structure between
that of Ganymede and Callisto, may be an interesting test, he adds.
The picture should become clear after 2026, when a pair of
orbiters planned by NASA and the European Space Agency, are due to
arrive at Jupiter to study the planet and its moons.
Journal reference: Nature Geoscience, DOI:10.1038/ngeo746
Space Daily / NASA JPL
Sun, 24 Jan 2010 19:56 EST
Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, has spotted its first
never-before-seen near-Earth asteroid, the first of hundreds it is
expected to find during its mission to map the whole sky in infrared
The near-Earth object, designated 2010 AB78, was discovered by
WISE Jan. 12. After the mission's sophisticated software picked out the
moving object against a background of stationary stars, researchers
followed up and confirmed the discovery with the University of Hawaii's
2.2-meter (88-inch) visible-light telescope near the summit of Mauna
The asteroid is currently about 158 million kilometers (98
million miles) from Earth. It is estimated to be roughly 1 kilometer
(0.6 miles) in diameter and circles the sun in an elliptical orbit
tilted to the plane of our solar system. The object comes as close to
the sun as Earth, but because of its tilted orbit, it is not thought to
pass near our planet. This asteroid does not pose any foreseeable
impact threat to Earth, but scientists will continue to monitor it.
WISE, which began its all-sky survey on Jan. 14, is
expected to find about 100-thousand previously undiscovered asteroids
in the Main Belt between Mars and Jupiter, and hundreds of new
near-Earth asteroids. It will also spot millions of new stars and
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 16:08 EST
Russia's proposal for an Armageddon-style mission
to deflect the space rock Apophis seemed bold, but it's not the only
one fretting about a catastrophic impact on Earth. The U.S. National
Research Council (NRC) released a new report that calls for an
international asteroid defense agency that can organize a proper
mission to counter possible asteroid threats, New Scientist reports.
The NRC repeats some grim facts about Earth's current lack of readiness
to deal with giant space rocks flying at it. Current sky surveys will
not be able to find 90 percent of near-Earth objects that are 460 feet
(140 m) or larger by 2020, as the U.S. Congress instructed NASA in 2005
to ensure they could. As always, a lack of funding has proved the main problem here.
An asteroid-hunting space telescope could go a long way toward playing
catch-up and reaching the survey goal by 2022, but at the hefty cost of
more than $1 billion.
Even if scientists spot a looming asteroid threat, few
immediate solutions exist. The NRC runs down past proposals that range
from "slow push" or "slow pull" gravity tractors
to small kinetic collisions by spacecraft that could nudge a space rock
off course -- assuming that there's decades to spare. But only nuclear
explosions stand ready as the current practical means for dealing with
the biggest threats in the form of space rocks greater than 1 km in
Still, several planned missions offer hope of not only studying asteroids for weaknesses, but even using them as a sort of "Plymouth Rock"
stepping stone to colonize Mars. Such missions could represent small
yet crucial steps toward generating interest in funding more asteroid
detection and deflection methods.
Keep in mind that the NRC's plans primarily cover large
asteroid threats. Plenty of smaller meteorites still fall to Earth
every year, including one that crashed through the roof of a doctor's
office in Virginia on Thursday. That culprit rock was identified by the
geologist husband of one of the office receptionists, SPACE.com notes.
Mon, 25 Jan 2010 23:51 EST
Top American boffins have warned that the US government's efforts to
prevent global apocalypse caused by meteor strike are inadequate. The
scientists add that nuclear weapons are the only practical means of
defence against large, planet-wrecker sized asteroids.
In a new report, the US National Research Council says that
so-called Near Earth Objects (NEOs) fall broadly speaking into three
First and most terrible are large NEOs bigger than 1km (eg
roughly Vatican sized and up) which would release energies in the
hundred-thousand-megaton range - more than a global nuclear war, and
with similarly catastrophic consequences for human civilisation or even
survival. NASA has got most of these NEOs logged in its databanks, but
not all - there are likely to be a few on orbits which only bring them
within observation at very long intervals.
Apart from planet-busting big jobs like these,
however, there are also a lot of quite hefty space boulders, snowballs
etc in the 140m+/cathedral size range. These, owing to their terrific
speed, would tend to cause destruction in the hundred-megaton range on
impact - equivalent to a limited nuclear bombardment.
NASA was ordered by the US Congress to log 90 per cent of
these medium-sized NEOs by 2020, and according to the National Research
Council analysts this simply isn't going to happen as things stand - in
large part because the politicians didn't assign any extra funds and
the administration has asked for none. The $4m per annum the US
currently spends on sky-search activities is seen as inadequate.
That said, the NRC's new report offers some alternative ways
ahead which could see most of the threatening space objects spotted -
either on time by 2020 using an expensive space-based telescope system,
or taking a bit longer using cheaper ground instruments. The boffins
also say that NASA should start scanning for smaller, 30-50m (ordinary
church) sized objects, as these would still be very nasty if they hit
in a populated area.
This much had already been mostly stated in a preliminary
report released last year, but the NRC boffins have now gone further
and taken a look at the various tactics humanity might use in the event
of a dangerous NEO being detected. There are many of these, some of
them quite delicate and refined - using the gravitational pull of a
spacecraft's own mass to minutely drag an asteroid off course, for
But "slow push/pull" methods like these are practical,
according to the NRC, only for smaller NEOs and "would likely require
decades of warning". Even "kinetic" plans where a spacecraft crashes
into an asteroid would only work on less potent sub-Vatican threats,
and again "may require decades of warning".
In the current state of human technology, the NRC warns, the only way to be sure is to nuke 'em from orbit:
Nuclear explosions are the only current, practical means
for dealing with large NEOs (diameters greater than 1 kilometer) or as
a backup for smaller ones if other methods were to fail.
It would seem that current plans
by President Obama to strive for "a world free of nuclear weapons"
would in the end - sooner or later - be a death warrant for humanity,
rather than its salvation.
UK UFO Sightings
Wed, 27 Jan 2010 13:57 EST
Posted: January 27, 2010
Location of Sighting: Littlehampton, West Sussex
Date of Sighting: 27th jan 2010
Witness Statement: Was standing outside
having a cigarette when I noticed a bright ball of light shoot across
the sky in front of me. It came from the west and was heading east. It
was too low in the sky to be a shooting star but was moving way to fast
to be a plane/jet. It made a noise for about 2 seconds at most but not
a jet engine sound it was more of a deep echo. I had a full 180 degree
view as it passed over but it seemed to disappear too early to be going
over the horizon. Must comment on the speed of it again have never seen
a plane of any sort going that speed before and the sound it made was
Sat, 30 Jan 2010 14:49 EST
John Blue Mountain Greenfire had just poured a cup of coffee and was
outside enjoying the evening air around 8 p.m. Wednesday when he saw
what he thought was an airplane on fire, heading toward Belgrade.
But while no fiery jetliner ever touched down at Gallatin
Field airport, a white fireball, a type of meteor, was reported over
Torrance, Calif., at 8:13 p.m. MST, traveling southeast, according to
the American Meteor Society's 2010 Fireball Sightings Table.
"I was really puzzled," said Greenfire, who lives on Sourdough
Road in southwest Bozeman. "All I saw was a ball of fire flying
northwest for three, maybe four seconds."
The Southern California report indicated the fireball was as bright as the full moon.
Joe Shaw, an electrical engineering professor at Montana State
University who watches the night sky, did not see the fireball, but
said it was possible "someone in Southern California could see it, and
we would see it also."
"I can't confirm it, but I certainly think it's within the
realm of reality," despite the discrepancies in the directions the
space objects were traveling, Shaw said. "It's an interesting
coincidence at the very least."
Cheryl Delaney, who lives in the Castlebar Apartments on North 25th Avenue, went so far as to call 911 to report the event.
"It looked like a jumbo jet on fire," Delaney said. "It flew right over my apartment."
She said it was "black as tar with fire dropping from the bottom."
Officers on duty, however, did not see the alleged fireball and
confirmed no airplanes were flying over the Bozeman area at that time,
according to 911 dispatchers.
The Vike Factor (Into the Paranormal)
Sun, 31 Jan 2010 09:37 EST
Posted: January 30, 2010
Date: January 31, 2010
Location of Sighting: Stevenson Ayrshire.
Number of witnesses: 2
Number of Objects: 1
Shape of Objects: Round possibly triangular.
Full Description of Event/Sighting: Large
triangular ball of flame coming from the SE heading west, thought it
was a plane, but when it got closer I then thought it was a helicopter,
then it dawned on me that it was neither, there was no noise from it
and it veered slightly west, how high up I do not know. Eventually it
seemed to gather more speed and either zoomed away or burnt out.