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Fire in the Sky


Geomagnetic Storm-in Progress

High-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras. A strong (Kp=7) geomagnetic storm is in progress.

Earth's magnetic field has been strongly disturbed since approximately 1300 UT on Sept. 26th when a CME hit our planet. The impact strongly compressed the magnetosphere, exposing geosynchronous satellites to solar wind plasma, and ignited auroras around both poles. Gordon McLellan photographed these pastels over Lake Michigan after sunset on Sept. 26th:

© Gordon McLellan
Image Taken: Sep. 26, 2011
Location: Lake Michigan, Manistee, Michigan, USA
© Gordon McLellan


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


An Argentinian official investigates the impact site in the Monte Grande suburb of Buenos Aires
A bright blue fireball fell out of the sky and smashed into a suburban neighbourhood in Buenos Aires today, killing one woman and injuring six others. In other news, the Russian prime minister is set to become the president again and again.... no, wait, back up a second. WHAT just happened in a major capital city in Latin America??

Comment: Update 27 September 2011

It turns out that far more than a single home was destroyed. The following video from local Argentinian media reveals the true scale of the destruction from this meteorite impact:


Is Another Disabled Satellite Headed for Earth?

© redOrbit
On the heels of the Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite's (UARS) splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, Telegraph reporter Andy Bloxham warned over the weekend that a second satellite is headed for Earth and should re-enter our planet's atmosphere sometime next month.

The craft in question is the Röntgensatellit (aka the ROSAT), a 2.4-ton space telescope that was originally constructed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and was disabled after its guidance system failed in 1999.

According to Bloxham, authorities originally believed the satellite would burn up completely in Earth's atmosphere, they now believe that pieces of debris from the ROSAT - some weighing upwards of 800 pounds - could collide with the planet's surface by the end of October.

"Up to 30 pieces of metal and carbon fiber are expected to survive the blazing temperatures of re-entry to the Earth's atmosphere and strike land," The Telegraph writer said on Saturday. "Among them are the giant mirrors which were designed to be heat-resistant to protect the telescope's x-ray array."

Heiner Klinkrad, the head of the space debris office at the European Space Agency, told Bloxham that the Röntgensatellit had "a large mirror structure that survives high re-entry temperatures."


NASA to Host News Conference On Near-Earth Asteroid Search Findings

NASA will hold a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT on Thurs., Sept. 29, to reveal near-Earth asteroid findings and implications for future research. The briefing will take place in the NASA Headquarters James E. Webb Auditorium, located at 300 E St. SW in Washington.

NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission, launched in December 2009, captured millions of images of galaxies and objects in space. During the news conference, panelists will discuss results from an enhancement of WISE called Near-Earth Object WISE (NEOWISE) that hunted for asteroids.

The panelists are:
  • Lindley Johnson, NEO program executive, NASA Headquarters, Washington
  • Amy Mainzer, NEOWISE principal investigator, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
  • Tim Spahr, director, Minor Planet Center, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Lucy McFadden, scientist, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.
Reporters unable to attend may ask questions from participating NASA centers or by telephone. To participate by phone, reporters must contact Dwayne Brown at 202-358-1726 or [email protected] by 10 a.m. EDT on Sept. 29.


Footage from Japan shows falling object possibly UARS Satellite


Meteor? Strange Falling Object Reported Across Gulf Coast

People all across the Gulf Coast reported seeing a large, perhaps green object streaking through the skies about 7:20 p.m. Sunday.

So far, there's no official word on exactly what the object was. NorthEscambia.com and other media outlets received sighting reports from around the area - Atmore, Walnut Hill, Cantonment, Mobile and Pensacola. WKRG TV reports that their meteorologist Johnathan Owens saw the object, which he described on his Facebook page as likely a small piece of an asteroid or a large meteor - and obviously completely burned up in the atmosphere".

Did you see the object? Did you happen to get a picture? Email [email protected] and let us know.


US: Texas Residents Report Something Fell From Sky, Then Fire

San Leon - An object falling from the sky could be to blame for a Saturday grass fire.

"When the call came in to the dispatcher, the person said that something fell from the sky and started the fire," Jeff Pittman, chief of the San Leon Fire Department, said.

The chief said an investigation will be conducted to determine the cause of the blaze at 18th Street and Broadway.


Argentina: One woman killed and six injured as meteorite smashes into Buenos Aires

Mystery explosion and Esteban Echeverría, "a ball of fire fell from heaven"

One woman died and six others were injured in the incident. A neighbor said the outbreak was caused by a burning object that fell from the sky and completely destroyed a house and several cars. "It was a tremor," he said. Are the causes of the accident.

The incident occurred minutes before 2 am, in a building located on the intersection of Luis Vernet and Los Andes, a town of Monte Grande, of Esteban Echeverría. The causes of the explosion are still unknown, but locals say they witnessed the fact that "a ball of fire fell from heaven." "He began to feel much smell like gunpowder," recalled one person who lives in the area told C5N. "There is no explanation for what happened," said Cayetano, a local resident, told Radio 10, then adding, "a neighbor ran because he saw a fireball falling blue." The commander of the local fire department, Guillermo Pérez, remarked that still do not know the cause of the incident, but acknowledged that the first version is aimed at an "object that fell from heaven." "I heard that version, but I can not say at first. Must be bound to expertise to really see what happened, "he said in a statement to Radio 10. Perez confirmed that two trade houses and" were completely destroyed. "In fact, a woman who was trapped under the rubble lost life while six others were rescued and were taken for care at a local hospital, told C5N firefighters who work on site.


Solar Static From Active Sunspot 1302

Active sunspot 1302 has turned the sun into a shortwave radio transmitter. Shock waves rippling from the sunspot's exploding magnetic canopy excite plasma oscillations in the sun's atmosphere. The result is bursts of static that may be heard in the loudspeakers of shortwave radios on Earth. Amateur radio astronomer Thomas Ashcraft recorded this sample from his backyard observatory in New Mexico on Sept. 24th:

© Wes Greenman
Dynamic spectrum: The horizontal axis is time (h:m:s), the vertical axis is frequency (MHz).
"Saturday was a super-strong solar day with near continuous flaring and radio sweeps," says Ashcraft. "The sound file (above) corresponds to an M3 flare at 1918 UTC. It was the strongest radio sweep of the observing day."


Strong Solar Activity Present

Having already unleashed two X-flares since Sept. 22nd, sunspot AR1302 appears ready for more. The active region has a complex "beta-gamma-delta" magnetic field that harbors energy for strong M- and X-class eruptions. Flares from AR1302 will become increasingly geoeffective as the sunspot turns toward Earth in the days ahead.

Marko Posavec of Koprivnica, Croatia, photographed the behemoth sunspot between flares on Sept. 24th:

© Marko Posavec of Koprivnica, Croatia
Photo details: Olympus E-510, Sigma 50-500mm lens (at 500mm), 1/640 sec. exposure, f/18, ISO 100
"Sunspot complex 1302 is incredibly easy to spot at sunrise or sunset," says Posavec. "Be careful, though. Even the low-hanging sun is bright enough to damage your eyes if you look at it through optics of any kind." Safe solar filters may be found in the SpaceWeather Store.