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Fire in the Sky


Mysterious 'Booming Sounds' Heard Around World Perplex Scientists

© Brian Emfinger
Brian Emfinger photographed this early Perseid meteor shower fireball, with a smoke trail, from Ozark, Arkansas just after midnight on Sunday, July 26, 2009.
Mysterious booming sounds are occasionally heard on the North Carolina coast, often powerful enough to rattle windows and doors. They cannot be explained by thunderstorms or any manmade sources - their source is a mystery.

Such dins are not unique to North Carolina or the modern age. People living near Seneca Lake in upstate New York have long known of similar booming sounds, which they called "Seneca guns." In coastal Belgium, they are known as "mistpouffers," or fog belches; in the Ganges delta and the Bay of Bengal, "Bansal guns;" in the Italian Apennines, "brontidi," or thunder-like; and by the Harami people of Shikoku, Japan, "yan."

"What's going on is an interesting challenge, whatever it might be," said seismologist David Hill, scientist emeritus at the U.S. Geological Survey office in Menlo Park, Calif.


Another Sun Diving Comet

A comet is diving into the sun today. Just discovered by comet hunters Michal Kusiak of Poland and Sergei Schmalz of Germany, the icy visitor from the outer solar system is expected to brighten to first magnitude before it disintegrates on Sept. 14th.

The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory is monitoring the comet's death plunge: finder chart, movie, latest images.


More Mammoth Solar Flares Expected From 'Old Faithful' Sunspot, Scientists Say

An active region of the sun that blasted out powerful solar storms four days in a row last week likely isn't done yet, scientists say.

A giant plume of ionized gas called plasma (to the right) leaps off the sun from sunspot 1283 in this photo snapped by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. This sunspot spouted four solar flares and three coronal mass ejections from Sept. 6-8, 2011
Officially, the flare-spouting region is called sunspot 1283. But space weather experts have dubbed it "Old Faithful," after the famous geyser in the United States' Yellowstone National Park that goes off like clockwork. And the solar Old Faithful should erupt again before it dissipates, researchers said.

"It still has a fair amount of complexity," said solar physicist C. Alex Young of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "So we still have a pretty good chance of seeing some more stuff from this one." [Photos: Sunspots on Earth's Closest Star]


Russian Amateur Astronomer Discovers New Comet

Russian amateur astronomer discovers new comet.
Russian amateur astronomer Artyom Novichonok, a student of Petrozavodsk university, made a discovery of a new comet, Russian astronomy popularizing website Astronet said on Sunday.

The comet is the first comet discovered from Russian territory since 1989.

Novichonok's discovery was confirmed by the International Astronomical Union, the comet being designated P/2011 R3 (Novichonok), the Ka-Dar Observatory, where Novichonok made his discovery, said on its website.

Novichonok discovered the comet on 6 images taken in September using a 0.4-m Jigit telescope.


North Carolina, US: Cape Fear Weather Watch - See a fireball last night? You're not alone

Did you see a fireball in the eastern sky Thursday evening? You're not the only one.

Emergency dispatchers in New Hanover and Brunswick counties received multiple reports of a blazing object in the sky at about 8 p.m.

Most likely, it was a meteor or comet fragment that made it into the atmosphere, said Tim Armstrong of the National Weather Service's office in Wilmington. There has been no confirmation of that, however.


Geomagnetic Storm In Progress

A geomagnetic storm is in progress following the impact of a CME around 1130 UT on Sept. 9th. This could be the first of several hits from a series of CMEs expected to reach Earth during the weekend. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall.

"After the outbursts of sunspot 1283 hurled several CMEs toward Earth, we expected quite some auroras in the arctic part of Norway," Frank Olsen of Tromsø. "We were not disappointed." He snapped this picture just after local midnight on Sept. 10th:

© Frank Olsen
Image taken: Sep. 9, 2011
Location: Tromsø, Norway
© Frank Olsen
© Frank Olsen


Solar Activity Update: Geomagnetic Storm Watch September 9th, 2011


Geomagnetic Storm: Electrical Ground Currents Detected in Norway

A polar geomagnetic storm (Kp=5) is in progress following the impact of a CME around 1100 UT on Sept. 9th. This could be the first of several hits from a series of CMEs expected to reach Earth during the weekend. High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras after nightfall.

© Rob Stammes
Instrument room polar light center, Lofoten Norway
Electrical ground currents caused by the storm have been detected in Norway. Rob Stammes writes:
Today, September 09, 2011 at 12.45 UTC the first CME arrived as a magnetic shockwave on my instruments. There is also an effect in signal strength from my vlf receivers, coming through electrons in the solarwind cloud. The magnetic field is unstable at the moment, it means a big change for auroras coming night.


US: Witness describes 'bright blue/green fireball' with long tail in Colorado night sky

MBIQ (Meteor Bot Internet Query) Indicates NE Colorado Meteor Event 2SEP2011

Colorado, east of Greeley and Northeast of Kersey: Bright Blue/Green Meteor Fireball seen at 4:00 am, 2 September 2011
My friend and I were at work out at 70 Ranch located at CR 388 and CR 53 Around 4 O'clock AM...9/2/2011. I saw a light that looked like a shooting star. It was bright out of the North and then it shot like a star to the East and then stopped for a few seconds. Then it came down from the north going south and then about a half mile to a mile off the ground it turned a dark to bright green a couple hundred feet around it and then it was traveling towards the ground with a Long tail burning. Looked green and blue. Then it came down and got really low to the ground before It looked like it was going to hit. It may have burnt out but don't know. Just thought it was awesome so I looked it up on the news and no one reported it. My other friend was on the phone about 30miles south of me when I saw it, and he saw it to and asked me if I saw it too. Just thought it was cool so went to this website when I looked up meteors and it said I could report it here if I saw anything. So I figured I would see what you guys knew. Thanks - Mark Merriott
Thank you Mark for your fine report!

Fort Collins, Colorado - arrived from google.com on "Latest Worldwide Meteor/Meteorite News" by searching for green fireball 9/2/11.


Sun Unleashes Massive Solar Flares in One-Two Punch

This image taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory watching the sun shows a powerful solar flare (center right) just minutes after it erupted on 6:20 p.m. EDT (2220 GMT) on Sept. 6, 2011.

Just as many Americans got back to work after the long Labor Day weekend, the sun jolted to life as well, unleashing a massive solar flare just one day after another sun storm sent a stream of particles racing toward Earth.

The X-class solar flare - the most powerful type of sun storm - erupted at 6:12 p.m. EDT (2212 GMT) on Tuesday (Sept. 6) and hit its peak strength eight minutes later, according to a space weather update by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The flare occurred less than 24 hours after another less intense but still dramatic solar storm.

Several different satellites watched the action unfold, including NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, which constantly records high-definition videos of the sun in several different wavelengths.

The Tuesday event registered as an X2.1-class solar flare, while Monday's storm topped out at a still-powerful M5, NOAA officials said. Strong solar flares are classified according to a three-tiered system: X-class flares are the most powerful, M-class are of medium strength and C-class are the weakest.