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Fri, 24 Mar 2017
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Fire in the Sky


100 years ago, a meteorite (possibly) vaporized a dog in Egypt

© Unknown
Here's a bizarre milestone. On June 28, 1911, a meteorite fell over the outskirts of Alexandria, Egypt. The meteorite broke into several smaller rocks, one of which may have reduced a dog to a burnt smear.

On that fateful morning a century ago, the Nakhla meteorite broke over the village of Abu Hummus, and 40 of these fragments were recovered for research.

Although the 1.3-billion-year-old rock is famous in astrogeological circles for its Martian origins, the Nakhla rock also has the lurid (and perhaps unearned) reputation as a dog-smusher. Explains The Smithsonian:
W.F. Hume, minister of the Geological Survey of Egypt, began taking eyewitness statements, and two months later published his report, "The First Meteorite Record in Egypt."

One of those statements, from a farmer who claimed to have seen a fragment fall on a dog, gave rise to the popular myth that Nakhla, as the meteorite would be named, was "the dog killing meteorite," an unsubstantiated claim, but the dramatic account is irresistible: "The fearful column which appeared in the sky at Denshal was substantial. The terrific noise it emitted was an explosion which made it erupt several fragments of volcanic materials. These curious fragments, falling to earth, buried themselves into the sand to the depth of about one metre. One of them fell on a dog...leaving it like ashes in a moment."


Another Coronal Hole Spewing Solar Wind Our Way - Due July 19th

A dark gap in the sun's atmosphere--a "coronal hole"--is spewing solar wind toward Earth. Estimated time of arrival: July 19th. This morning, UV-filtered telescopes onboard NASA's Solar Dynamics Obervatory photographed the opening:
A composite of EUV images at three wavelengths: 211 Å, 193 Å, and 171 Å.

Coronal holes are places where the sun's magnetic field opens up and allows hot gas to escape. A million mile-per-hour stream of solar wind flowing from this hole could spark polar geomagnetic storms when it arrives early next week. High-latitude sky watchers should be prepared for auroras.


Mystery From the Sun: Huge Solar Storm Still Puzzles 11 Years Later

Eleven years ago this week, one of the worst storms on record raged on the sun, churning huge amounts of plasma around the solar surface and spewing massive loads of particles into space and toward Earth.

The July 14, 2000, event, called the Bastille Day Solar Storm, was a turning point for scientists' understanding of weather on the sun.

One million degree hot solar plasma travels along magnetic loops in the sun's atmosphere during the Bastille Day solar storm of 2000.
"It was one of the most highly observed events of that time," said Phil Chamberlin, a scientist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., who is a deputy project scientist for NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a sun-studying satellite that launched in February 2010. "It led to a lot of the requirements for the solar missions of today, like SDO."


Mystery Flash of X-rays Reveals Plasma Blobs as Big as Planets Exploding on Sun

On June 7, 2011, Earth-orbiting satellites detected a flash of X-rays coming from the western edge of the solar disk. Registering only "M" (for medium) on the Richter scale of solar flares, the blast at first appeared to be a minor eruption until researchers studied the video images.

"We'd never seen anything like it," says Alex Young, a solar physicist at the Goddard Space Flight Center. "Half of the sun appeared to be blowing itself to bits."

NASA has just released new high-resolution videos of the event recorded by the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO). "In terms of raw power, this really was just a medium-sized eruption," says Young, "but it had a uniquely dramatic appearance caused by all the inky-dark material. We don't usually see that."

This 13 MB extreme ultraviolet movie of the explosion shows a 'solar tsunami' wave billowing away from the blast site. Solar physicist Angelos Vourlidas of the Naval Research Lab in Washington DC calls it a case of "dark fireworks. The blast was triggered by an unstable magnetic filament near the sun's surface," he explains. "That filament was loaded down with plasma, which exploded in a spray of dark blobs and streamers."


Recent Sun Activity: Plasma Fountains, Sun-Grazing Comet

Interesting activity captured on the Sun early today (July 12, 2011) showing an active region on the Sun's Eastern limb. Plasma was hurled very high above the stellar surface, but didn't have the needed escape velocity and most of the plasma "rained" back down in a fountain. The video shows the activity in different wavelengths.

See below for more views, including the first time a sun-grazing comet was seen disintegrating over the Sun's surface.

© Cesar Cantu from Monterrey, Mexico, and the Chilidog Observatory.
The Sun on July 11, 2011.
This great ground-based look at the Sun is from July 11, 2011. "A sun a little more active than the past few days, although with much mist in the city, making it impossible to get photos of larger increases," said Cesar Cantu from Monterrey, Mexico, with his Chilidog Observatory. See more at his website, Astronomía Y Astrofotografía.


Interview with Russian astronomer Leonid Elenin - The discoverer of Comet Elenin

Leonid Elenin
The following video is a full interview in the Russian language on NTV with the discoverer of Comet C/2010 X1 aka 'Elenin', astronomer Leonid Elenin. Below is the translation of the original interview's transcript available on the Russian TV website.

Comment: Indeed, the hysteria and lies surrounding comet Elenin are ridiculous, and could be dismissed as more "loony talk" if only the similar circus generated around comet Hale-Bopp 15 years ago hadn't led to tragic consequences. See Heaven's Gate mass suicide to understand where those pied pipers in the alt. community are leading the vulnerable.

It's an unfortunate fact that many people do have impressionable minds, easily influenced by paranoid fables bordering on the criminal. Some of them are also part of deliberately orchestrated COINTELPRO campaigns, which are intended to further muddy the waters. Read Elenin, Nibiru, Planet-X - Time for a Sanity Check article for some clarity on this mess.


Incoming Coronal Mass Ejection From Sunspot 1247

A coronal mass ejection (CME) that billowed away from sunspot 1247 on July 9th could hit Earth's magnetic field on July 12th. Because the CME was not squarely Earth-directed and is not traveling at great speed, only minor geomagnetic storming is expected when the cloud arrives. Nevertheless, high-latitude sky watchers should be alert for auroras.

The explosion that launched the CME was recorded by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO):

The movie is a composite of several extreme ultraviolet (EUV) wavelengths, invisible to the human eye but apparent to SDO's bank of EUV telescopes. Different colors trace different temperatures of solar plasma, mostly in the range 1 to 2 million K (blue to yellow); these data are invaluable to researchers working to understand the physics of solar explosions. Launched little more than a year ago, SDO is only beginning its investigations. One conclusion, however, is already clear: solar activity is beautiful.


New Zealand - Meteorite Puts on Pre-Dawn Light Show

© Unknown
Illustration only
Anyone up early on Saturday morning would have witnessed a rare event from outer space.

Neil Hart and his 10-year-old son Jayden left in the dark to go pig-hunting around 5.50am at Matawai.

As they were heading towards Ormond, they saw in the direction of Patutahi an extremely bright meteorite that lit up the early morning sky and all the hills around them.

Mr Hart's wife said the four of them in the car watched as it cut horizontally across the sky.

"It was quite spectacular - you could make out the rock with the sparks coming off it, it was very, very clear."

When the hunting group arrived at Matawai, the people they were meeting said they had heard a boom.


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.


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.