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Mon, 27 Feb 2017
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Fire in the Sky


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.


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.


Georgia, US: Loud 'boom' rattles Gainesville area

© 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.


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!


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

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.


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.


Giant Fireball Filmed In Mexico

© 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.


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".

Bad Guys

Australia: Space rock passes through satellite belt

Astronomers around the world breathed a sigh of relief last Monday night when an asteroid passed within 12,000 kilometres of Australia, closer than communication satellites.

First observed by a dedicated telescopic asteroid tracker in the US on 22 June, the object was then observed by French astronomer Professor Klotz and PhD student Michael Todd, who remotely programmed it into the schedule for the Zadko Telescope at the University of Western Australia.

Director of the telescope, Associate Professor David Coward, said the asteroid - officially known as Near Earth Asteroid 2011MD - was identified as a tumbling, elongated 4-12 metre rock during a 40-minutes observation by Zadko over Australian skies. The Zadko telescope observations were the first to determine that the rock was rotating with a period of about 11 minutes.

"NASA said asteroids of the size of 2011MD come this close to Earth on average once every six years so it's a relatively rare event," Coward said. "2011MD was within the geosynchronous satellite belt, orbiting with our communications satellites and it could do a lot of damage if it collided with one."