Fire in the SkyS


Flashback Mysterious Sky Flashes Puzzle Pennsylvania Observers

Between 8 and 8:30 p.m. on the night of October 26, 2008, residents in Westmoreland County, southeast of Pittsburgh, reported observing an odd brilliant light show in the sky, which some observers felt was not related to thunderstorm activity. I also have received observation reports from as far away as Somerset County in Pennsylvania, and into Ohio.

The first reports I received were from the Mount Pleasant Township area. Later reports came in from various other areas of Westmoreland County, including North Huntingdon Township, Greensburg and Latrobe.

The initial reports from Mount Pleasant Township, described an intense flash of white light which lit up the sky in all directions. The flash lasted only a fraction of a second. Observers felt certain that this was no lightning bolt. The exact position of where the flash was originating from could not be determined since all sections of the sky were illuminated.

The sky was very clear and full of stars. There was absolutely no thunder or other sound heard at the time.


Massachusetts, U.S.: "Fireball" Sighting Maybe a Meteorite

Island residents are being urged by Maria Mitchell Association director of astronomy Vladimir Strelnitski to keep their eyes open for meteorites around Surfside and the south shore in the coming days following an unconfirmed sighting of a fireball blazing across the early-morning sky Friday, Feb. 20 at 4:30 a.m.

Terry Galschneider was up early watching television when she said a dramatic orange fireball "lit up the sky" for five seconds. She said the fireball was too large and bright to have been a shooting star or a helicopter. Her full description to Strelnitski left him to "not exclude that it fell in the ocean, but maybe even on land."

The object's brightness suggests it would be relatively close to Galschneider, although its lack of sound made that even less possible to tell for certain. He said it was highly unlikely to have been debris from colliding satellites.


UFO's in the Sky? Probably a Comet

Multiple people in Waukesha County called WTMJ reporters and the Waukesha Sheriff's Department, reporting unusual lights in the evening sky.

Could it have been something from another world, a UFO?

"Somebody saw something," said Waukesha County Sheriff's Captain Karen Ruff.

"I don't know if it was just a planet, the sky, the clouds, the stars or what it was. There was something out there.

"We do let our officers know, because it could be a plane or a helicopter in trouble. We do have them go out and look. Nobody saw anything, so we don't quite know what it was."


Comet's Heart May Have Struck Earth

© Unknown

Bright lights that suddenly streak across the night sky with an accompanying boom tend to elicit a flurry of phone calls to local police departments.

These rare events aren't typically wayward missiles, or satellite debris (as was thought when one such streak recently lit up the skies over Texas), or alien invasions. But they do come from outer space.

Scientists aptly call the objects fireballs because they are the brightest meteors, or "shooting stars," that fall to Earth.

A fireball as bright as the full moon raced across the Spanish skies on July 11, 2008, and was tracked by the Spanish Fireball Network (SPMN). Researchers used the tracking data to trace the path of the comet backwards through the sky and space; they think the boulder may be a chunk of a comet that broke up nearly 90 years ago. Their conclusions are detailed in the Feb. 11 online issue of the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.


Argentina: Another Fireball Over Patagonia

© photo
Witnesses to the phenomenon in Esquel and El Bolsón (Chubut Province) claim that the "night was completely lit" - it occurred last Saturday and research is ongoing to determine if it was a meteorite that entered the atmosphere and disintegrated, or if it was a UFO.

The strange "fireball" that crossed the skies over the Cordillera in Chubut between the towns of Esquel and El Bolsón is being investigated to see if it was an Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) or a meteorite that entered the atmosphere and burned up before striking the ground.


Flashback Asteroid 2008 TC3 Strikes Earth: Predictions and Observations Agree

A spectacular fireball lit up the predawn sky above Northern Sudan on October 7, 2008. This explosion was caused by the atmospheric entry of a small near-Earth asteroid, estimated to be no more than a few meters in diameter. The explosion likely scattered small meteorite fragments across the Nubian desert below. Although such small impact events occur several times per year around the globe, this case was unprecedented because the asteroid was actually discovered the day before it reached the Earth and the impact location and time were for the first time predicted in advance.

At 6:39 UT (UT = GMT) on the morning of October 6, 2008, Richard Kowalski, at the Catalina Sky Survey, discovered this small near-Earth asteroid using the Mt. Lemmon 1.5 meter aperture telescope near Tucson, Arizona. When the discovery observations were reported to the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge Massachusetts, a preliminary orbit computation immediately indicated that the object was headed for an Earth impact within 21 hours. The MPC quickly made the discovery and subsequent "follow-up" observations available to the astronomical community and contacted the NASA/JPL Near-Earth Object Program Office. The MPC also notified NASA Headquarters of the impending impact so that subsequent US government interagency alerts and inter-governmental notifications could begin. By the time this object (now designated as 2008 TC3) entered the Earth's shadow 19 hours after discovery, some 570 astrometric (positional) measurements had been reported from 26 observatories around the world, both professional and amateur.


US: Things again going BOOM in the night in S. Minneapolis

The enduring mystery of the south Minneapolis explosions that are rattling both windows and neighbors' nerves has once again reared its head.

A new spate of nighttime blasts, roughly 100, have been going off since summer, something that has been occurring intermittently for nearly three years.

The last time police investigated the spate of explosions, in 2006 and 2007, they were finally able to determine the source: plain, old fireworks, most likely set off by teenagers.

This time, though, only about half can be explained away, said Lt. Dean Christiansen, who's coordinating the investigation in the Third Precinct.


Found: Pieces of space rock 2008 TC3 once seen heading for Earth

asteroid TC3 Sudan
© Mohamed Elhassan Abdelatif Mahir/Noub NGO/Muawia H Shaddad/U Khartoum/Peter Jenniskens/SETI Institute/NASA Ames)The small asteroid 2008 TC3 broke up in the atmosphere above Sudan on 7 October and left behind this wind-blown trail high in the sky.

The discovery of meteorites from an asteroid that exploded over Sudan in October completes an astronomical trifecta. For the first time, scientists have detected a space rock ahead of a collision with Earth, watched it streak through the atmosphere, and then recovered pieces of it. Analysis of the meteorites could shed light on conditions in the early solar system more than 4 billion years ago.

When the asteroid, called 2008 TC3, was discovered on 6 October last year, it was just 20 hours away from hitting Earth. Though the warning period was short, it was the first time a space rock had been found before it impacted the planet.

Orbital calculations predicted the object would plunge into the atmosphere above Sudan at 0246 GMT on 7 October, and it arrived right on time. Observations suggested it was no more than 5 metres across, too small to survive intact all the way to the ground and cause damage.


US: Fireball Lights Up Hawaii Sky and Causes Jaws to Drop

Flashy, colorful fireball awes sky-gazers.

"Look out!" shouted Gregory McCartney, who runs astronomy education programs at Ko Olina, as a fireball flew overhead. He thought his group of 18 was about to be hit, but the mysterious object suddenly disappeared.

Another isle resident who saw the green fireball in the sky the night of Feb. 9 "thought the world was coming to an end." Joanna Spofford, walking with her 3-year-old daughter in Kalama Valley, said, "It was the scariest thing in the world." Astronomers said the celestial apparition could have been a new meteor, possibly from "a clump of cometary material that hadn't dispersed enough to become an annual shower."

One thing it was not: debris from the collision of U.S. and Russian satellites. That collision did not happen until the next day.


Meteors Light Up Kentucky's Skies

Astronomers say bright lights in the sky and noises like thunder observed over much of Kentucky were meteors.

The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that after the reports came in from people in Kentucky and Texas late Friday, the Federal Aviation Administration cautioned pilots to beware of satellite debris, but the advisory was quickly withdrawn.