03 February 2013

February 2013

Year of the Comet: Third comet set to make appearance in April 2013

2013 could be the Year of the Comet. Comet Pan-STARRS is set to become a naked eye object in March, followed by possibly-Great Comet ISON in November. Now we must add to that list green Comet Lemmon (C/2012 F6). "Comet Lemmon is putting on a great show for us down in the southern hemisphere," reports John Drummond, who sent us a picture from Gisborne, New Zealand: "I took the picture on Jan. 23rd using a 41 cm (16 in) Meade reflector," says Drummond. "It is a stack of twenty 1 minute exposures."

© John Drummond
That much time was required for a good view of the comet's approximately 7th-magnitude coma ("coma"=cloud of gas surrounding the comet's nucleus). Lemmon's green color comes from the gases that make up its coma. Jets spewing from the comet's nucleus contain cyanogen (CN: a poisonous gas found in many comets) and diatomic carbon (C2). Both substances glow green when illuminated by sunlight in the near-vacuum of space. Discovered on March 23rd 2012 by the Mount Lemmon survey in Arizona, Comet Lemmon is on an elliptical orbit with a period of almost 11,000 years. This is its first visit to the inner solar system in a very long time.

The comet is brightening as it approaches the sun; light curves suggest that it will reach 2nd or 3rd magnitude, similar to the stars in the Big Dipper, in late March when it approaches the sun at about the same distance as Venus (0.7 AU). Northern hemisphere observers will get their first good look at the comet in early April; until then it is a target exclusively for astronomers in the southern hemisphere. - Space Weather

'Loud boom' alarms residents in Springfield, Missouri

People in several counties in our viewing area wondering "what was that sound?"

Dozens of you have let us know about a "loud boom" or explosion between 6:30 and 8:30 Saturday night.

KSPR has received reports about it from Mount Vernon, Nixa, Ozark, Aurora, and Reeds Spring but so far authorities say they've been unable to determine the source of the blast.

We can rule out an earthquake, the last one recorded anywhere near the Ozarks was more than 12 hours ago near Oklahoma City.

Comment: This was probably another overhead airburst from a meteor or cometary atmospheric explosion. As readers can see, these are happening all over the world on a daily basis now, and in ever-increasing numbers...


Can you hear meteors?

Meteor Shower
© EarthSky Org
Is it possible to hear a meteor as it streaks past? Some report hearing meteors with a sizzling sound - like bacon frying. There might be a scientific explanation ... Sometimes, after a meteor shower, people report hearing the meteors. Some exceptionally bright meteors have been reported as being accompanied by a low hissing sound - like bacon sizzling. For years, professional astronomers dismissed the notion of sounds from meteors as fiction. Typically, a meteor burns up about 100 kilometers - or 60 miles - above the Earth's surface. Because sound travels so much more slowly than light does, the rumblings of a particularly large meteor shouldn't be heard for several minutes after the meteor's sighting. A meteor 100 kilometers high would boom about five minutes after it appears. Such an object is called a "sonic" meteor. The noise it makes is related to the sonic boom caused by a faster-than-sound aircraft.

Meteor Shower_1
© Susan Jensen 2013 Quadrantid meteor by EarthSky Facebook friend Susan Jensen in Odessa, Washington.
But what about meteors that seem to make a sound at the same time you are seeing them? These meteors would be seen and heard simultaneously. Is this possible? Astronomers now say it is possible. They speak of "electrophonic meteors." The explanation is that meteors give off very low frequency radio waves, which travel at the speed of light. Even though you can't directly hear radio waves, these waves can cause physical objects on the Earth's surface to vibrate. The radio waves cause a sound - which our ears might interpret as the sizzle of a meteor shooting by.

Bright fireball streaks across Nova Scotia sky, 8 February 2013

08 February 2013 - Mike, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada 2:15 Atlantic Time
2-3 seconds duration. South-West direction. Bright green color, as bright as the moon.
08 February 2013 - Justin Gale, New Germany, Nova Scotia, Canada 2:15 Atlantic Time
1-2 seconds duration. South-East direction. Bright blue like an arc welder with a red tail. Near the brightness of the sun. No fragments. It streaked across the entire view of the sky and burned out just before hitting the horizon.

Meteorite fragments found near Sri Lanka's parliament?

Meteorite Fragment
© The Island
Investigations were underway to check the authenticity of claims that several fragments suspected to be from a meteorite had fallen into a home garden near Parliament at Battaramulla yesterday morning, Colombo University, Prof. Chandana Jayaratne said.

The unusual fragments were first seen by the domestic worker, who removed them. Subsequently, the house owner called the Moratuwa University and contacted Prof. Chandana Jayaratne.

Prof. Jayaratne, who visited the place, said that it was a meteorite type rock and it would be possible to confirm whether it was from a meteorite within one or two days.

Prof. Jayaratne warned people not to destroy evidence which was vital to carry out the required tests. Meanwhile, he asked the public not to disturb such objects.

He stressed that it was a great loss when people destroyed the evidence of meteorites due to ignorance.

"If you happen to see such objects, you should cover them with a basin or a piece of oil cloth," Dr. Jayaratne said.

Emerald green fireball lights up mountains in Colorado and Wyoming, 09 February 2013

09 February 2013 - Jeremy Greeley, CO, USA 2:30 MST
5 seconds duration. Emerald green color. Between moon and Sun in brightness. A little bit emerald green, it was a meteor/ fireball that seemed to go beneath the clouds and light up the sky.
09 February 2013 - Brian & Michelle, FALCON, COLORADO, USA 01:55 MST
3-5 seconds duration. W-E diirection. I was facing north. Bright green with bright green tail. Not as bright as the sun, but brighter than the moon. It was huge and it looked like it hit the ground because as it disappeared from our sight. There seemed to be an explosion of light. It did not shoot across the sky but appeared have fallen down out of the sky
09 February 2013 - Daniel, San Luis Valley, Colorado, USA 01:55 MST
2-3 seconds duration. Before it fell behind the mountains, it traveled NNW as I was driving due north. Bright, but not as bright as the moon. After the meteorite fell out of sight behind mountains, there was a flash that illuminated the mountains from behind. The flash behind the mountains was very surprising.
09 February 2013 - Shawn Wright, Wyoming, US 01:54 MST
3 seconds duration. E-W direction, I was facing south. It was overcast out and I seen a big blue greenish flash in the sky. It was very cloudy out yet the fireball was bright enough to light up the whole sky and you could see it move from east to west! Very bright at first, it then faded away.

Blue fireball creates spectacular show over Ontario and Michigan, 9 February 2013

09 February 2012 - Donald Blubaugh, Coleman, MI, USA 1:30 a.m. Eastern Time Zone
2-3 seconds duration. N-S direction, I was facing North. It was a blue fireball with a tail of blue and red. Pretty bright. Too quick to tell if it was a meteor?
09 February 2013 - Zoobie, Hamilton, Ontario 1:20 a.m.
2 seconds duration. West/north direction. Green/blue color. Very Bright. Amazing!
09 February 2013 - David & Joanne Mank, Orangeville, Ontario, Canada 1:20 a.m.
2 seconds duration. N-E, from my left to right. Green-blue-white color. 1/4 brightness of the moon. It burned out very close to the ground - a spectacular show!
09 February 2012 - Yves Grandguillot, Toronto, Ontario, Canada 1:20 a.m.
2 seconds duration. S-W direction. Green color. As bright as the Sun. It was a large and very bright green light - quite fascinating to see.
09 February 2012 - Heather Howell, Burlington, Ontario, Canada 1:20 a.m.
2 seconds duration. North facing. Green & white color, it was bright like a flare.

Fallen meteorite draws thousands in Sri Lanka

© Daily News, Sri Lanka
A stone particle resembling a meteorite which had fallen into a quarry at Aladeniya, Kandy, near the seventh mile-post last morning drew a curious crowd.

Several thousands gathered by noon yesterday to see the particle which was about 20 inches in diameter and weighed nearly 5 Kg.

A team led by CEA Assistant Director Senarath Bandara removed the particle for further investigations.