Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 18 Mar 2018
The World for People who Think

Fire in the Sky


Geminid Fireballs

On the night of Dec. 13/14, NASA's All-Sky Meteor Network recorded 35 fireballs streaking over the southern USA. Twenty-two of them had remarkably similar orbits:

Fireball Orbits
The clustered green orbits match the trajectory of near-Earth asteroid 3200 Phaethon, source of the annual Geminid meteor shower. The Geminids have been active this week as Earth passes through the asteroid's mysterious debris stream. The other, non-Geminid orbits correspond to random meteoroids. Not belonging to any organized debris stream, random meteoroids litter the inner solar system and produce a daily drizzle of "sporadic" fireballs.

NASA's fireball network, which connects multiple cameras in New Mexico, Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee, is a "smart" system. It rapidly and autonomously calculates meteoroid orbits from the fireballs it records. Another orbit diagram is just hours away; stay tuned.


Comet Lovejoy update - will it miss the sun?


Canada: Meteorite Alert! Remote Cameras Capture Slow-Moving Fireball near Toronto

Canadian Fireball
© University of Western Ontario
The huge fireball event as seen from a remote camera in Orangeville, Ontario.
In newly released footage from the University of Western Ontario, a bright, slow-moving fireball was captured in the skies near Toronto, Canada on December 12, 2011 by remote cameras watching for meteors. Although this meteor looks huge as it burns up in Earth's atmosphere, astronomers estimate the rock to have been no bigger than a basketball. Footage reveals it entered the atmosphere at a shallow angle of 25 degrees, moving about 14 km per second. It first became visible over Lake Erie then moved toward the north-northeast.

See below for the video.

But in a meteorite-hunter alert, Peter Brown, the Director of Western's Centre for Planetary & Space Exploration said that data garnered from the remote cameras suggest that surviving fragments of the rock are likely, with a mass that may total as much as a few kilograms, likely in the form of many fragments in one gram to hundreds of a gram size range.


Significant Comet Plunges in the Sun

A comet nearly as wide as two football fields (200m) is plunging toward the sun where it will most likely be destroyed in a spectacular light show on Dec. 15/16. Although Comet Lovejoy (C/2011 W3) could become as bright as Jupiter or Venus when it "flames out," the glare of the sun will hide the event from human eyes. Solar observatories in space, however, will have a grand view. Yesterday the brightening comet entered the field of view of NASA's STEREO-B spacecraft.

"You can clearly see the comet heading diagonally through the images," says Karl Battams of the Naval Research Lab who prepared the animation. "During the 16-hour sequence, the comet brightens from magnitude +8 to +6.5, approximately."

It will soon grow much brighter. "This comet is a true sungrazer, and will skim approximately 140,000 km (1.2 solar radii) above the solar surface on Dec. 15/16," notes Battams. At such close range, solar heating will almost certainly destroy the icy interloper,creating a cloud of vapor and comet dust that will reflect lots of sunlight. The Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) will have a particularly good view.


US: Mysterious Explosion and Fireballs Seen as Homes Shaken in Rural Kentucky

There are still no answers as to what caused an apparent explosion in Perry County Sunday night.

Crews spent hours searching Sunday night after initial reports of a possible plane crash, but they gave up the search around 1:00 a.m. and said it was probably an explosion at an abandoned mine.

Now officials with the Division of Abandoned Mine Lands are saying there is no evidence at the mine that would support an explosion.

Some say they felt their homes shaking, others say they saw a fireball, but as of now no one can say for sure what happened in Perry County Sunday night.

Preliminary reports of possible plane crash were ruled out after searching for hours and finding no crash scene, that led officials to this explanation.


Earth Hit By Fireball Storm

Ranging in size from microscopic space dust to mountainous asteroids, trillions of meteoroids zing through the inner solar system on a daily basis. What are the odds that five of them would cross the same point in space? Pretty good, actually. In fact, it happened just last night. Regard the following orbit diagram, then read on for an explanation:

© MSFC Meteroid Environment Office
These are the orbits of five objects that hit Earth on the night of Dec. 7/8. NASA's All Sky Fireball Network recorded the meteoroids as they disintegrated in the atmosphere over the United States, each one producing a bright fireball. Note how all the orbits converge on a single point--our planet.

Every night the network's cameras scan the skies over the United States, forming an inventory of what hits the atmosphere. Combining images from multiple cameras, network software rapidly calculates the basic parameters of each interloper: orbit, speed, disintegration height, and more. At the moment, cameras are located in only four states (New Mexico, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee), but the network is expanding to provide even better coverage. Soon we'll see just how congested our intersection in space really is.


Newfound Comet to Dive Through Sun Next Week

© Unknown
Illustration only
A newly discovered comet is racing toward a mid-December rendezvous with the sun - a rendezvous that it will likely not survive.

The comet is categorized by astronomers as a "sungrazer" and it is destined to do just that; literally graze the surface of the sun (called the photosphere) and pass through the sun's intensely hot corona, where temperatures have been measured at upwards of 3.6-million degrees Fahrenheit (2-million degrees Celsius).

While the comet will not collide with the sun, most astronomers say the odds are rather long that it will remain intact after its closest pass by the sun. The most exciting aspect of the event is that the comet's expected destruction should be visible on your computer monitor.

And there is a very slight chance that, should the comet somehow manage to survive, it might briefly become visible in broad daylight.


Super Fireball Lights Up Night Sky in Northern China

China's Xinhua News Agency reported a golden UFO appeared in the northwestern sky and was seen by some citizens in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei on the evening of Nov 30. Astronomers said it was a super fireball that is rarely seen.

Ma Qiang is an amateur astronomer living in Tianjin who witnessed the flying fireball.

He said the fireball glittered and flew from northwest to the west around 5:25 pm and disappeared after two seconds.

Its golden lights were brighter than the moon.

Some citizens in Beijing also saw the fireball and reported the incident.

Director of Beijing Planetarium Zhu Jin said the glittering object is a super bright fireball that is rarely seen, according to descriptions given by the witnesses.

Astronomers say a fireball is a kind of meteor that has seldom been observed.

Flying in the aerosphere, the fireball sometimes sounds like a pen scratching on paper. It is brighter than Venus at night.


The Great "Birthday Comet" of 2011

Comet Lovejoy

SOHO's 16th Birthday gift is on it's way, and the tracking number states delivery by midnight on December 15th!

On December 2nd, 2011, newly discovered Kreutz-group comet C/2011 W3 (Lovejoy) was announced. SOHO discovers these objects on average every three days, but this one is different... it was found from a ground based telescope, and marks the first such discovery in over 40yrs. It also marks a significant achievement for Australian astronomer Terry Lovejoy, who as an early pioneer of discovering SOHO comets over the internet, can now claim to be the first person to discover a Sungrazer from both ground and space-based telescopes!

Traditionally, and with little exception, ground-discovered Kreutz-group comets have gotten bright. Very bright! In 1965, Kreutz-comet Ikeya-Seki was so bright, it could be seen by the naked eye by blocking the Sun out with your hand. We do not expect C/2011 W3 to get this bright, so reserve your seat next to your computer and stay tuned to the SOHO, STEREO and Sungrazer websites as we prepare for this rare and potentially spectacular object to enter our cameras around Dec 12, meeting its fiery demise late on Dec 15.

We will have more information on this site over the coming week. In the meantime, updates will occasionally be posted at the Sungrazer site.

Stay tuned!


US: Mysterious Debris Crashes Through Plymouth Warehouse Roof

© Kathy Curran
A piece of metal crashed through the roof of a Plymouth business.
Plymouth - A solid piece of metal crashed through the roof of a Plymouth furniture warehouse on Thursday. Investigators say the debris appears to have fallen from the sky, but it did not come from a plane.

Michael Facchini, the owner of Michael's Wholesale Furniture Distributors found the 3-5 lb. chunk of debris on the floor of his building off Camelot Drive.

Facchini also discovered a hole in the roof of the building.

"Looked up, the ceiling had a big hole," he told WBZ-TV's Kathy Curran. "One of the workers came by and noticed the office was a mess and asked if I knew what happened then I looked and saw metal and figured it came from high above."

No one was hurt by the falling debris.

The FAA has sent an inspector to Plymouth to help investigators.