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Mon, 02 May 2016
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Fire in the Sky


Draconid Meteor Update

According to worldwide observers reporting to the International Meteor Organization, there was indeed an outburst of Draconid meteors on October 8th. Preliminary counts suggest a peak rate of 660 meteors per hour at 2010 UT (4:10 pm EDT).

Most Draconids in the outburst were faint, but not all. Göran Fredriksson photographed this fireball splitting the evening twilight over Örnsköldsvik, Sweden:

© Göran Fredriksson
Image Taken: Oct. 8, 2011
Location: Örnsköldsvik, Sweden
The meteor rate and overall faintness of the display was in good accord with predictions by leading forecasters such as Jeremie Vaubaillon of the Institute for Celestial Mechanics in France and analysts at NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.


US: Four Orange Fireballs Cross Michigan Skies 'at a steady pace'

© Wikipedia.
As reported recently in New Jersey, four fireballs crossed Michigan skies on October 1, 2011, and the witness was able to capture all four on video.
A Michigan couple report "four consecutive fireballs" crossed the sky "traveling straight at a steady pace," according to October 2, 2011, testimony from the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) witness reporting database.

The couple was driving home from dinner when they noticed the first "orange fireball rising up from the horizon."

"It was travelling almost perfectly from north to south," the witness stated. "All you could really see was the v-shaped plume of fire behind it."

The witness described the size of the object.and its path.

"If you extended your arm fully out in front of you, the plume appeared the size of your pinky fingernail. It was travelling straight, at a steady pace."

But then more fireballs were seen.

"What was really odd was that after it traversed the sky and went out of site, about 20 seconds later, another one appeared from the same origin, travelling the exact same path-pace as the first one. Even stranger, this happened a total of four times."


A Meteor Breaks Up in Earth's Atmosphere

NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center recorded a meteor breaking up in Earth's atmosphere on Sept. 30 at 8:37 p.m. EDT. Watch below.

Also, notice the star-like object moving slowly toward the upper middle of the screen. Orbiting 500 miles above Earth, it's the booster rocket that launched the Russian Cosmos 2219 intelligence satellite in 1992. The empty rocket body can get bright enough to be seen with the naked eye.

Comment: The same video in slow-motion from Space.com:


Triple Asteroid Crash Created Sudan Meteorites

© Peter Jenniskens (SETI Institute/NASA Ames)
The black fragment of Almahata Sitta meteorite number 15 shows up black against the lighter coloured rocks of the Nubian desert in northern Sudan.

Meteorites that fell over Sudan in 2008 could have come from a space rock that was formed by a triple-asteroid pileup - a collision between three different types of space rocks, a new study finds.

Scientists analyzed meteorite fragments that fell to Earth exactly three years ago today, on Oct. 7, 2008, and found that they contain an unusual mix of material from both primitive and evolved types of asteroids.

"Because falls of meteorites of different types are rare, the question of the origin of an asteroid harboring both primitive and evolved characteristics is a challenging and intriguing problem," study leader Julie Gayon-Markt, of the Observatoire de la Cote d'Azur in France, said in a statement.

The meteorites came from asteroid 2008 TC3, which impacted the Earth and rained more than 600 fragments across the Nubian Desert in Sudan. The meteorite fragments are collectively known as Almahata Sitta, which is Arabic for "Station Six," a train station between the Sudanese cities of Wadi Halfa and Khartoum, near where the fragments were found.

"Our recent studies of the dynamics and spectroscopy of asteroids in the main asteroid belt shed light on the origin of the Almahata Sitta fragments," Gayon-Markt said. "We show that the Nysa-Polana asteroid family, located in the inner main belt is a very good candidate for the origin of 2008 TC3."


Draconid Meteor Outburst October 8th

On October 8th, Earth will pass through a network of dusty filaments shed by Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner. Forecasters expect the encounter to produce anywhere from a few dozen to a thousand meteors per hour visible mainly over Europe, northern Africa and the Middle East. The meteors will stream from the northern constellation Draco--hence their name, the "Draconids."

Peak rates should occur between 1600 UT and 2200 UT (noon - 6 pm EDT) as Earth grazes a series of filaments nearly intersecting our planet's orbit. Analysts at the NASA Meteoroid Environment Office prepared this plot showing how the meteor rate is likely to vary:

© NASA Meteoroid Environment Office
If the maximum around 1900 UT reaches 1000 meteors per hour, the 2011 Draconids will be classified as a full-fledged meteor storm. The question is, will anyone see it? Bright moonlight over Europe, Africa and the Middle East will reduce the number of visible meteors 2- to 10-fold. The situation is even worse in North America where the shower occurs in broad daylight.


US, Ohio: Fireball over Sandusky Tuesday night was 'chart-topper'

A gigantic UFO silently burned its way across the Sandusky sky Tuesday night.

That's the story from three Camp Street men who happened to look up just as the object tore through the dark yonder at about 10 p.m.

Robert Lowery, a clerk at the 7-11 store on Camp Street, said he was lugging a pile of cardboard boxes to the Dumpster when a bright object in the sky caught his attention.

"It was about the size of a dinner plate," Lowery said. "You could see the heat coming off it."

At the same time, about two blocks down Camp Street, Montee Prieur and Daniel Harpst were shooting the breeze next to the Camp Street Bar.

"I looked up and this huge fireball went right over us," Harpst said. "It was on fire and had a long streaming tail ... I yelled at my buddy Montee who was sitting right next to me, 'Hey man, check that out.'"

Prieur said he looked up in time to see it.

From their vantage point, the great ball of fire raced overhead for brief seconds before dropping out of sight.


Did Comet-Born Oceans Hit Earth?

Comet Hartley 2 was also the subject of the Deep Impact probe study
Comet Hartley 2 contains water more like that found on Earth than all the comets we know about, researchers say.

A study using the Herschel space telescope aimed to measure the fraction of deuterium, a rare type of hydrogen, present in the comet's water.

Like our oceans, it had half the amount of deuterium seen from other comets.

The result, published in Nature, hints at the idea that much of the Earth's water could have initially come from cometary impacts.

Just a few million years after its formation, the early Earth was rocky and dry; most likely, something brought the water that covers most of the planet today.


Draconid meteor outburst due October 8th from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner

On October 8th Earth is going to plow through a stream of dust from Comet 21P/Giacobini-Zinner, and the result could be an outburst of Draconid meteors.

"We're predicting as many as 750 meteors per hour," says Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "The timing of the shower favors observers in the Middle East, north Africa and parts of Europe."

Comet Giacobini-Zinner, a fairly frequent visitor to the inner solar system, was captured by the Kitt Peak 0.9-meter telescope on Halloween Night 1998 (UT November 1st, from 02:07 to 03:40). North is up with east to the left. Since the comet was moving across the sky fairly quickly, and since color images are made by combining successive exposures through three different filters, a conventional combination would have either a streaked comet or a set of colored dots for each star. To avoid this, the complete sequence of images, lasting over ninety minutes, was specially processed.
Every 6.6 years Comet Giacobini-Zinner swings through the inner solar system. With each visit, it lays down a narrow filament of dust, over time forming a network of filaments that Earth encounters every year in early October.

"Most years, we pass through gaps between filaments, maybe just grazing one or two as we go by," says Cooke. "Occasionally, though, we hit one nearly head on--and the fireworks begin."

2011 could be such a year. Forecasters at NASA and elsewhere agree that Earth is heading for three or more filaments on October 8th. Multiple encounters should produce a series of variable outbursts beginning around 1600 Universal Time (noon EDT) with the strongest activity between 1900 and 2100 UT (3:00 pm - 5:00 pm EDT).


Maryland, US: Possible Meteorite Brings Calls to 911 Center

Cumberland - Numerous 911 calls in Allegany and Mineral counties at 4:22 a.m., Tuesday apparently stemmed from a "meteorite passing through the area," according to Roger Bennett, acting director of Allegany County 's 911 center.

"We checked camera footage from schools at Mount Savage, Westmar, Oldtown, Westernport and other locations that showed a flash of light that brightened the whole sky," said Bennett, who reviewed the video footage. He said no objects were visible in any of the videos.

The Allegany County 911 center received about a dozen calls inquiring about the sound of an explosion. Calls were were also reportedly made to the Mineral County 911 center from the Keyser area. However, apparently no calls were made at that time to emergency centers in Garrett, Washington, Bedford and Fayette counties among other locations.

A check of various agencies including the Federal Aviation Administration, Maryland Emergency Management Administration and the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Systems Services Statewide Communications Systems produced no information relative to the local 911 calls, according to Bennett.

Bennett also said some unofficial information about the possible meteorite sighting was posted on some websites.


Double Eruption

On October 1st around 10:17 UT, widely-spaced sunspots 1302 and 1305 erupted in quick succession, revealing a long-distance entanglement which was not obvious before. NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) recorded the double blast:

Since it was launched in 2010, SDO has observed many "entangled eruptions." Active regions far apart but linked by magnetic fields can explode one after another, with disturbances spreading around the stellar surface domino-style. Yesterday's eruption appears to be the latest example.

The part of the eruption centered on sunspot 1305 hurled a coronal mass ejection toward Earth. The relatively slow-moving (500 km/s) cloud is expected to reach our planet on Oct. 4th, possibly causing geomagnetic storms when it arrives. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.