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Fire in the Sky


Fireball of 10 April 2011 Over Northern Italy

A fireball of zenithal magnitude -13.4 was captured over N Italy on April 10, 2011 at 02h31m UT (00h31m LT). The bright object, ended with a big explosion, was taken by E.Stomeo from the automatic meteor station (IMO # 14083) of UAI-Meteor Section network, operating near Venice with ccd cameras and all-sky fisheye lens.


US: New Mexico Fireball

© Heliotown
Still from the video.

A fireball of this magnitude happens only ten or so times a year in my
local/regional sky.

April 17, 2011at 01:42 am MDT. 1 MB Movie with sound.

Watch Video


Singapore - Rare Sight: 'Fireball' Streaks Across Evening Sky


Two STOMPers caught sight of what seemed to be a meteor streaking across the sky last evening (Apr 17).

JJ123, one of the STOMPers who saw the meteor, said:

"My friend and I were on our way to dinner when we chanced upon something unusual in the sky.

"Initially, we tried to convince ourselves that it was an aeroplane flying across the sky. After much observation, we realised that it seemed more likely to be a meteor falling from the sky.

"It was definitely a rare sight in the heartlands. Photographs of the incident were captured in Chong Pang, right in front of the Nee Soon Camp in the evening."


Match made in heaven: Earth finds new companion as giant asteroid joins its path around the sun

But this asteroid orbits the sun in a highly unusual horseshoe pattern.

Earth has found a new companion that has joined its orbit around the sun, scientists have revealed.

It may not have the most romantic of names, but Asteroid 2010 SO16 could pursue Earth for anywhere between the next 120,000 to a million years.

And at a few hundred metres across, it is the largest space rock ever discovered so close to earth.

Very unusual: Rather than follow its new friend all the way round, SO16 orbits the sun in a horseshoe shape, playing a constant game of catch up with Earth


Sun - Earth Connection

Even a small solar flare can reach out and touch the Earth. On April 16th, sunspot 1190 produced a relatively minor C5-class flare. X-rays from the distant explosion broke apart molecules in Earth's upper atmosphere, creating a wave of ionization over Europe. Researcher Rob Stammes detected the sudden ionospheric disturbance or "SID" using a very low frequency radio receiver at the Polar Light Center in Lofoten, Norway:

© SpaceWeather
The wave of ionization allowed signals from a terrestrial radio station to bounce over the horizon into Stamme's 23.4 kHz VLF antenna. That's what's shown in the upper panel. Now consider the lower panel: "There was also a small increase in radio noise directly from the flare itself at 56.25 MHz," points out Stammes. "Contact with the sun at VLF and VHF radio frequencies at the same moment gives me important information."

Readers, would you like to be in radio contact with the sun? Visit NASA's RadioJove web site for instructions.


The Sun: Strange Beauty

It's been almost a year since NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory began taking pictures of the sun. As the the first anniversary of First Light approaches on April 21st, researchers are taking stock of the observatory's many accomplishments. One of the most profound results turns out to be aethestic: the sun is more beautiful than anyone imaged. Consider the following extreme ultraviolet image, taken just hours ago, of the magnetic canopy of sunspot complex 1191-1193:

© SpaceWeather
This stunning snapshot is actually routine material for SDO. The observatory produces a daily torrent of beauty that, even now, mission scientists haven't grown used to. Normally unflappable researchers are frequently caught staring slack-jawed at SDO movies. And when they're done, they don't have the vocabulary to describe what they have seen. Many of the phenomena SDO catches have no textbook names. SDO's starscapes may turn out to be as prized to poets, artists, and writers as they are to no-nonsense solar physicists. See for yourself.


'Impact: Earth!' Asteroid, Comet and Damage Simulation Website

© Purdue University
Purdue University has created "Impact: Earth!," a website where anyone can see the simulated effects when a comet or asteroid of variable size, density, and speed hits Earth. Many people believe that asteroid and comet impacts have played a major role in the history of Earth, and Purdue has provided us with an inside look at how previous impacts might affect us today.

The Interactive website is said to be scientifically accurate enough to be used by many different branches of the government including NASA and the Department of Homeland Security.

Comment: Now we feel much more "reassured" to know that NASA and the Department of Homeland Security are using the simulation, and yet don't give the topic its deserved urgent attention. Unless, of course, they are using the program to calculate the best location for their private underground bunkers.

It is also user-friendly and visual enough to be used by schools as an interactive teaching aid for elementary students. This adds a possible new and exciting way for kids to be physically hands on and learn about the earth and how impacts might affect us.


US: Happen to see the April 9th Fireball?

In my time watching the skies, I've seen quite a few meteors, fireballs, and bolides. The truly notable ones are few and far between, but last Saturday, I caught one that was among the most interesting I've seen. It was a slow moving, bright green one with a nice smoke trail that was easily as bright as Venus from where I saw it in the suburbs of St. Louis. I tweeted about it briefly but didn't think much more about it until I got a response from another person that saw it along with a link to a collection of observations. As nice as the observation was for me, it was nothing compared to the view some others got.
© Starlight Cascade Observatory

Heading over to the American Meteor Society page for a meteor around this time, it looks like a meteor matching the one I saw generated a pretty good number of reports from across the country. Several have reactions similar to my initial one: This must be a firework. Many reports confirm the smoke trail and fragmentation as well. But the reports that are really fantastic are the ones from Canada.


Scientists find asteroid with potential power of 15 atomic bombs. Heading this way. Tonight.

© Nasa/JPL
2011 GP59 orbit.
Amateur astronomers across the world have fallen for a cheeky asteroid that passed the Earth on Monday night.

Asteroid 2011 GP59 was caught winking at our planet from a distance away barely 10 times that of the moon.

The "winking" bit which is getting spacefans so hot and bothered stems from the fact that the asteroid is cigar-shaped and spinning madly end-to-end, comparatively speaking.

"Usually, when we see an asteroid strobe on and off like that, it means that the body is elongated and we are viewing it broadside along its long axis first, and then on its narrow end as it rotates," said Don Yeomans, manager of NASA's Near-Earth Object Program Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

"GP59 is approximately 50m long, and we think its period of rotation is about seven-and-a-half minutes.

"This makes the object's brightness change every four minutes or so."


Australia: The Truth is Out There

Everyone in the south-west yesterday had their own big bang theory.

Was it an earthquake? Did Tower Hill erupt into action? Did a meteor shower crash to earth, or was it an alien invasion?

The "big bang" was heard about 1am yesterday, with reports of an "explosion" shaking homes in Winslow, Warrnambool and Terang.

"The whole house shook and there was an almighty noise, like a roar," one Warrnambool resident said yesterday.

"It had my curtains moving and set my car alarm off."

The noise was said to be accompanied by flashes of light that were variously described as being pink, orange and yellow, and seen as far away as Mortlake and Heywood.

Perry Vlahos, media liaison for the Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV), said it was likely that the bang and the flashes of light were caused by a meteor.

"It was most likely a meteor exploding in the atmosphere," Mr Vlahos said.

"(The sound) could be a sonic boom or (a meteor) coming through the atmosphere and exploding. Even though these flashes or sound appear close, it might be quite a distance above our head."

Don Ward, an ASV member from Gorae West, said the cloudy conditions would have made it difficult to spot a meteor.