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Mon, 30 May 2016
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Fire in the Sky


Dead German Satellite Will Fall to Earth This Week

© German Aerospace Center
Artist's impression of the ROSAT satellite in space.

A defunct German satellite is expected to plunge to Earth this week, but exactly when and where the satellite will fall remains a mystery.

The massive German Roentgen Satellite, or ROSAT, is expected to plummet to Earth on Saturday or Sunday (Oct. 22 or 23), though German space officials have also offered a wider re-entry window of between Oct. 21 and Oct. 25. This latest falling satellite comes about a month after a dead NASA climate satellite, called the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite (UARS), plunged into the Pacific Ocean in late September.

The 2.4-metric ton X-ray space observatory is expected to break up as it travels through Earth's atmosphere, but some large pieces will likely make it through the intense heat of re-entry. According to German aerospace officials, approximately 1.7 metric tons of satellite debris, consisting primarily of up to 30 large glass and ceramic fragments, could survive the journey through the atmosphere and reach the Earth's surface.

"We don't expect big parts to re-enter, except the mirror and the glass and ceramic parts," Jan Woerner, head of the executive board of the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR), Germany's space agency, told SPACE.com. "Usually during re-entry, you have rather clear burning of all the elements, but glass and ceramics may survive and may come down in bigger pieces."

Comment: So we're being warned that yet another satellite is crash to earth. What is UP that they don't want us to know about?

That ain't no satellite! Meteorite impacts Buenos Aires, Argentina


US: Maryland Residents surprised by sonic boom

Berlin, Maryland - According to the Worcester County Fire Marshal's Office, the loud noise heard throughout the north end of the county this morning was a sonic boom.

The noise heard from at least West Ocean City to Bishopville was a sonic boom, according to Worcester County Public Information Officer Kim Moses, but officials don't know what agency the associated aircraft was from.

Shortly after the roughly 9:30 a.m. sound, Maryland State Police said a variety of agencies sent officers out to investigate the loud sound that shook roofs but no one was able to determine the cause.

Comment: Another meteorite exploding in the atmosphere perhaps?


Halley's Comet to Put on Meteor Show Next Week

If you step outside before dawn during the next week or so, you might try to catch a view of some "cosmic litter" that has been left behind in space by Halley's Comet: the Orionid meteor shower.

The Orionids can best be described as a junior version of the famous Perseid meteor shower. This year's Orionids show is scheduled to reach its maximum before sunrise on the morning of Oct. 22. The meteors are known as "Orionids" because the fireballs seem to fan out from a region to the north of Orion's second brightest star, ruddy Betelgeuse.

© NASA courtesy of Meteor Physics Group, University of Western Ontario
A 2010 Orionid meteor, seen over Western Ontario, Canada. A waxing gibbous moon shines brightly at the left side of the image.


Was the "First Photographed UFO" a Comet?

On August 12th, 1883, Mexican astronomer José Bonilla was preparing to study the Sun at the recently opened Zacatecas Observatory. However, the Sun's surface was marred by numerous objects quickly travelling across its disk. Over the course of the day and the next, Bonilla exposed several wet plates to take images of the 447 objects he would observe. They weren't released publicly until January 1st, 1886 when they were published in the magazine L'Astronomie. Since then, UFOlogists have crowed these photographs as the first photographic evidence of UFOs. The chief editor of L'Astronomie passed the observations off as migrating animals, but a new study proposes the observation was due to the breakup of a comet that nearly hit us.

© Jose Bonilla
First photograph of a UFO sighting, taken 12 August 1883 by Jose Bonilla.


Amateur Captures Coronal Mass Ejection

While you can't exactly call Joe Brimacombe an amateur astrophotographer, he's managed to capture an elusive solar event on film... a coronal mass ejection!

A huge, conical-shaped magnetic prominence had been lingering for days and calling attention to itself. On the morning of October 13, 2011 - it delivered.


Debris of "Doomsday" comet to swing by Earth on Sunday

The moment long feared by conspiracy theorists is nearly upon us: The "doomsday comet" Elenin will make its closest approach to Earth Sunday (Oct. 16). Or what's left of it will, anyway.

© NASA/JPL-Caltech
Trajectory of comet Elenin
Comet Elenin started breaking up in August after being blasted by a huge solar storm, and a close pass by the sun on Sept. 10 apparently finished it off, astronomers say. So what will cruise within 22 million miles (35.4 million kilometers) of our planet Sunday is likely to be a stream of debris rather than a completely intact comet.

And the leftovers of Elenin won't return for 12,000 years, astronomers say.

"Folks are having trouble finding it, so I think it's probably dead and gone," said astronomer Don Yeomans of the Near-Earth Object Program Office at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

That means it probably won't present much of a skywatching show Sunday, scientists have said.


Ireland: Jupiter And Full Moon To Light Up Eastern Skies Tonight

Weather permitting, a brilliant star-like object outshining every other star in the sky will be seen in the skies over Ireland this evening soon after the Moon rises around 7pm. Just to the lower right of the Full Moon, Jupiter will be clearly visible to the naked eye.

David Moore, Chairman, Astronomy Ireland, said: "The Moon and Jupiter are the two brightest objects in the sky and when they pass close to one another in the sky like this our phone lines start hopping as it is such a spectacular sight to the naked eye. This time we wanted to predict it in advance so the general public would not be alarmed as has happened in the past".

© www.astronomy.ie
The Moon and Jupiter at 8pm on October 13th


Asteroid Near Earth Discovered by Amateur Astronomers

© ESA/TOTAS Survey Team
Observations coordinated by ESA's Space Situational Awareness programme have led to the discovery of a previously unknown near-Earth object, asteroid 2011 SF108 in September 2011. The asteroid orbits the sun in a path that brings it within about 18 million miles (30 million km) of Earth.

A team of amateur astronomers has discovered a previously unknown asteroid in orbit that brings it near the Earth, highlighting the contributions regular folks can make to planetary defense, scientists announced Wednesday (Oct. 12).

The skywatchers spotted the asteroid, which is known as 2011 SF108, in September using a telescope in the Canary Islands. While 2011 SF108's orbit appears to bring it no closer to Earth than about 18 million miles (30 million kilometers), it still qualifies as a near-Earth object - the class of space rocks that could pose a danger to our planet.

The team took advantage of an observation slot sponsored by the European Space Agency's Space Situational Awareness (SSA) program to make the find, according to an ESA announcement.

"As volunteer work, it is very rewarding," said Detlef Koschny, head of near-Earth object activity for SSA, in a statement. "When you do spot something, you contribute to Europe's efforts in defending against asteroid hazards."


Time-lapse trifecta! Photo captures meteor, Milky way and Northern Lights

A meteor, the Milky Way and the Northern Lights. Capturing just one of these natural beauties in a photo is a feat many photographers would be proud of.

Amateur photographer Tommy Eliassen struck photo gold in this beautifully composed image he shot in Ifjord, Finnmark, Norway.

Eliassen made the photo on Sept. 25 using a Nikon D700 with a wide angle lens and long exposures between 25-30 seconds.

© Tommy Eliassen/Caters News Agency
A meteor streaks across the Milky Way adjacent to a display of the Northern Lights in Finland.


Falling German Satellite Poses 1-in-2,000 Risk of Striking Someone This Month?

A defunct NASA satellite that fell to Earth last week sparked some worldwide buzz, but it's not the only spacecraft falling out of space.

The decommissioned German X-ray space observatory, called the Roentgen Satellite or ROSAT, will tumble to Earth sometime in early November, but it's still too early to pinpoint exactly when and where debris from the satellite will land, according to officials at the German Aerospace Center.

© German Aerospace Center
Artist's impression of the ROSAT satellite in space
The 2.4-ton spacecraft's orbit extends from the latitudes of 53 degrees north and south, which means the satellite could fall anywhere over a huge swath of the planet - stretching from Canada to South America, German Aerospace officials said.