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Thu, 22 Jun 2017
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Fire in the Sky

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Meteor seen shooting across North Carolina sky

© Earl Ayers
Did you see it? A bright light, streaking across the night sky was a delight to many across the Carolinas and throughout the Southeast. WFMY News 2 is getting lots of reports about a meteor Wednesday evening.

According to reports, the meteor flew through the night sky around 8:43pm. Those who saw it describe a bright, white light lasting for about 10 seconds, and say it's a sight they'll never forget. Reports have been coming in from North Carolina, including the Triad area, as well as South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia and even Florida.

Earl Ayers tweeted a video of the meteor captured on a camera at a home in Cornelius, North Carolina. Make sure to look to the upper left to see the bright light.

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Trail of meteor fireball captured on camera over Plymouth, UK

The mystery object - believed to be a meteor - tore through the skies above Plymouth

Ben Landricombe was walking to work in Plymouth early this morning when he caught glimpse of the "shooting star".

The council worker then raced back to his house to grab his camera before the rare sight disappeared from the red-hued Devon sky.

Ben, 36, said: "I've never seen anything like it in my life.

"I was driving to work, then I saw a big spark in the sky. I thought I better get my camera.

"I missed the meteor coming through the atmosphere, but I saw the sparks coming down, travelling really fast."

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Meteor fireball captured over Rome, Italy

© Daniele Cataldi
Meteor, Fireball, Bolide taken by Daniele Cataldi on April 9, 2017 in Italy, Lariano, Rome.

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Bright meteor fireball streaks over Southern California skies

© Leticia Odanga/twitter (screen capture)
What appeared to be a fireball shooting across the night sky prompted a great deal of reaction on social media Monday evening.

The bright flash was spotted a little before 9 p.m. from as far south as San Diego, north to Los Angeles and as far east as Phoenix. Here is some of what people claim they saw.

Comment: The American Meteor Society (AMS) received 518 reports about a fireball seen over AZ, CA, Baja California, MA, NV and NM on Tuesday, April 11th 2017 around 04:00 UT.


Lyrid meteor shower to peak April 22

© Image via NASA/ MSFC/ Danielle Moser.
Composite image of Lyrid and not-Lyrid meteors over New Mexico from April, 2012.
All you need to know about the Lyrid meteor shower. In 2017, the peak falls on the morning of April 22, with little or no interference from a waning crescent moon.

The annual Lyrid meteor shower is active each year from about April 16 to 25. In 2017, the peak of this shower - which tends to come in a burst and usually lasts for less than a day - is expected to fall on the morning of April 22, with little or no interference from the slender waning crescent moon. The greatest number of meteors usually fall during the few hours before dawn. All in all the Lyrid meteor shower prospects look pretty good for 2017, though meteor showers are notorious for their fickle and not totally predictable nature! Follow the links below to learn more about April's shooting stars!

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April 2017: The month of 4 visible comets - Comet PanSTARRS (C/2015 ER61) brightens overnight

© José J. Chambó
Look at the difference in appearance of comet PanSTARRS (C/2015 ER61) pre-outburst (left) on April 1st and in outburst on April 4th.
2017 may well go down as the year of the binocular comet. Three have been easy catches, and it's only the start of April: 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova, 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak and Lovejoy (C/2017 E4). Now there's a fourth. Overnight, PanSTARRS (C/2015 ER61) joined the club.

Discovered two years ago on March 15th by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope on the summit of Haleakalā, it was a faint 21st-magnitude midge. But how it's bloomed! By late March and the start of April, the comet had brightened to around magnitude +8.5 while puttering across Sagittarius and Capricornus low in the southern sky before dawn.
© Gerald Rhemann
This April 5th photo catches the comet in the full glory of its outburst.
Then it happened. On April 4th, comet observer Juan José González Suárez reported a possible outburst to magnitude +7.4. This was confirmed, both visually and photographically, by several observers including myself early this morning. It's now as bright as magnitude +6.5, a leap of two magnitudes practically overnight! Although the specific cause of the outburst isn't known, it's likely that some sort of outgassing or disruption on the comet's surface exposed fresh ice to sunlight, initiating a new wave of vaporization.


Green comet flyby on April 1st

Another comet brightens and now visible in the Northern hemisphere

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Close pass by asteroid 2017 GM

Asteroid 2017 GM is one of the 10 closest asteroids known so far to sweep past Earth, and then keep going. At its closest, it was less than 1/20th of the moon's mean distance.
© EarthSky Org
Image of asteroid 2017 GM, captured this morning (April 4, 2017), while the asteroid was approaching its closest point to Earth. Taken by Gianluca Masi and Michael Schwartz, as part of a cooperation between Tenagra Observatories, Ltd., in Arizona and the Virtual Telescope Project in Italy.
The near-Earth asteroid 2017 GM was discovered by the Mt. Lemmon Survey in Arizona (USA) on April 3, 2017, and, just a few hours later - midday April 4 in Europe, early in the day April 4 for the Americas - it safely came as close as within 10,000 miles of Earth (16,000 km, about 0.04 lunar distances). Our observations helped in determining its orbit.

We captured 2017 GM while it was safely approaching us. For this, we remotely used a telescope in Arizona, made available to the Virtual Telescope by Tenagra Observatories, Ltd. Above is an image coming from a single 30-seconds exposure, unfiltered, taken with the 16?-f/3.75 Tenagra III ("Pearl") unit. The robotic mount tracked the fast apparent motion (150?/minute) of the asteroid, so stars are trailing. The asteroid is perfectly tracked: it is the sharp dot in the center, marked by two red lines.

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Social media lights up over meteor fireball in the night sky over Florida

© American Meteor Society
There were many reports of the fireball reported to the American Meteor Society webpage.
There are social media reports of a fireball over Tampa around 3 a.m. early Sunday morning.

A report on the American Meteor Society webpage confirms a similar possible sighting. According to Antonio Paris, an astronomer at MOSI, seeing meteors flying across the sky isn't unusual.

If you look up at the night sky, Paris said you could see a meteor almost every night if it's clear. That's not as common in cities like Tampa. Paris said you'll have better luck in rural areas and national parks where there's less light pollution.

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Huge 'potentially hazardous' asteroid hurtling towards Earth on April 19th

© Denis Scott / Corbis / Getty Images
A huge 1km-wide asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, prompting astronomers to label it "potentially hazardous". But don't pack for Mars just yet - the giant space rock, '2014 JO25', is expected to pass by our planet safely.

According to NASA the encounter on April 19 will be the closest the asteroid comes to Earth in 400 years, and no projected future encounters will be as close for at least another 480 years.

However, another fly-by is expected in 2091 and the space rock also makes regular close approaches to Mercury and Venus.


Meteor fireball reported streaking across British Columbia; second in 2 weeks

A NASA image of a fireball.
For the second time in two weeks, a large fireball was seen streaking across the sky in B.C., and astronomers say it's the best time of the year to see large, bright meteors.

"The springtime is considered fireball season; we actually call it that," said Derek Kief, an astronomer at the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre. "In the early spring, people tend to see more fireballs than at any other time of the year. They're random and inconsistent and once a month you'll get a very good one."

At least five people, including two in British Columbia, considered the fireball they saw on Thursday around 10 p.m. remarkable enough that they reported it to the American Meteor Society's "report a fireball" website, where it was deemed an "event."

They reported the bright sparking ball of fire flared for one to two seconds.

"Remarkable sight!" Kim D. on Mayne Island wrote on the site. "Saw sparks."