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Wed, 28 Sep 2016
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Meteor

Probe Nears Target: Asteroid the Size of US State of Arizona

© NASA / JPL-Caltech / UCLA / MPS / DLR / PSI
NASA's Dawn spacecraft obtained this image on June 20 on its approach to the protoplanet Vesta, the second-most-massive object in the main asteroid belt.
Dawn, first spaceship to visit Vesta, will enter into orbit next week for year's study

A NASA spacecraft is just 11 days away from a historic rendezvous with an asteroid the size of Arizona.

NASA's Dawn probe should enter into orbit around Vesta on July 16, becoming the first spacecraft to visit the 330-mile-wide space rock - the second-largest object in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn is expected to spend a year studying the space rock from above, marking the first time a spacecraft has ever made an extended visit to a large asteroid.

Meteor

Plan Now to Avoid "Deep Impact" Later

© Unknown
As President Barack Obama jump-starts his re-election campaign and declared or potential Republican candidates like Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney and Rick Perry test-fly various strategies, it's a sure bet that not one of them will be breathlessly warning of an always pending and incalculably lethal threat to our troubled planet.

Too bad. They should be.

Sun

Sunspot Chain

Sunspot group 1247 is expanding rapidly and in an interesting way. The active region is organizing itself as a linear chain of sunspots, denoted by the rectangle in this July 10th image from the Solar Dynamics Observatory:

© Space Weather
From end to end, the chain stretches more than 200,000 km, which makes it an easy target for backyard solar telescopes. Some observers prefer H-alpha telescopes tuned to the red glow of solar hydrogen, but for watching behemoth sunspots evolve, nothing beats a white light observing system. Monitoring is encouraged.

Meteor

Georgia, US: Loud 'boom' rattles Gainesville area

Image
© Unknown
Some people in the Gainesville area reported hearing a mysterious loud noise - like an explosion - Thursday morning.

AccessNorthGa.com received calls between 10:00 and 11:00, the first about 10:40 from the McEver Road/Browns Bridge Road area. The caller said it shook her house and wondered if it might have been a sonic boom, caused by a jet breaking the sound barrier.

A second caller, a few minutes later, said he was sitting by his pool on Mountain View Road, which is off McEver, and saw a "streak across the sky," followed by the loud noise, leading to some speculation that it was a sonic boom caused by a meteor entering the earth's atmosphere.

Bizarro Earth

Meteor / Fireball Over Georgia July 4, 2011 - Red Barn Observatory

Georgia meteor / fireball entering the atmosphere at 12:17:45 EST (04:17:43 UTC) on July, 4 2011. Approximate magitude -6.5 to -7.5. Recorded with a Sandia Laboratories Fireball Camera - located on site of the Red Barn Observatory MPC-H68 in Ty Ty, Georgia. Steve E. Farmer Jr.


Meteor

Fireball July 7, 2011, Georgia, USA

Caught it! Someone says it's airplane, well then the plane is from outter space then... I've never seen such plane! Gosh!


Meteor

Miserable comet ends life by diving into the Sun (VIDEO)

© SOHO
Perhaps upset that it's so hard to find a mate in the unimaginable barrenness of space, a lone comet wandered into the Sun yesterday and has not been seen since. (Follow the jump for multiple angles of its fiery demise.)

The deceased likely belonged to the suicidally depressed Kreutz comet family. Astronomer Heinrich Kreutz theorized in 1888 that many sun-diving comets were once part of a larger, cohesive comet up to 66 miles wide that separated in a traumatic breakup centuries ago. Now the Kreutzian children rove the solar system, flirting with annihilation by buzzing the scalding zone around the sun.

A few, like the 1882 "Super Comet" and 1965's Ikeya - Seki, obtain lasting glory by lighting up like a disco ball in hell, a spectacle visible from Earth during the daytime. But most are silently consumed by the furious and insatiable Sun, a steady procession of cosmic nullifications ignored by the average human. Astronomers estimate that the solar system harbors more than 1,600 comets with paths perilously close to the solar touch of death.

Meteor

Another Sundiving Comet

Today, the solar system has one less comet. During the late hours of July 5th, an icy unnamed comet dove into the sun and disintegrated. The comet's last hours were recorded by coronagraphs onboard the the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO):


The comet was probably a member of the Kreutz sungrazer family. Named after a 19th century German astronomer who studied them in detail, Kreutz sungrazers are fragments from the breakup of a giant comet at least 2000 years ago. Several of these fragments pass by the sun and disintegrate every day. Most are too small to see but occasionally a big fragment like this one attracts attention.

NASA's STEREO-A and -B spacecraft also recorded the event, and they are beaming their data back to Earth now. In a few days we'll have high-res movies of a comet's death plunge from three points of view: SOHO, STEREO-A and STEREO-B. Stay tuned.

Meteor

Giant Fireball Filmed In Mexico

Image
© kimdragon1
With a title that reads "UFO or Meteorite", it's easy to see how alien and UFO rumors begin. Posted on YouTube is a video that was shot in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on June 29th, 2001.

The video is by far one of the clearest and most beautiful filming of a meteorite falling towards earth. With such long trailing tails of fire, you really can't help but imagine this thing bring from a different planet.

Meteor

Each June, a giant comet stalks the Earth


Last week the Earth came close to being hit by a chunk of cosmic debris packing the punch of a Hiroshima-type atomic bomb.

The house-sized asteroid 2011 MN shot past the Earth at more than 25,000kph last Monday, coming closer than some communications satellites before flying off back into the void of space.

So why were we not warned? One reason was that although it was a close-run thing, astronomers had pinned down the path of 2011 MN well enough to be pretty confident it would miss us.

Another was that even if it had struck, it would have lost most of its energy as it entered our atmosphere, most likely burning up to give a brief but impressive shower of "shooting stars".