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Fri, 18 Aug 2017
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Fireball 2

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.

Fireball 5

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."

Comet 2

April Fools' Day comet, closest pass to Earth on record

© Cometography
Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak is now known by the nickname "April Fools' Day Comet,"
It might be streaming by on April Fools' Day, but this comet is no holiday prank. On Saturday, the inelegantly named comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák will make its closest flyby of Earth since its discovery in 1858.

There's no need to worry about it hitting Earth: The comet will zoom past at a safe distance of around 13.2 million miles, about 50 times the moon's distance, EarthSky.org reports.

While the comet will be closest Saturday, you can get a peek in the days before and after. "Amateur astronomers with small telescopes are already watching, and more people will see the comet in the coming days," EarthSky.org said.

41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresák will be in the far northern sky, meaning stargazers in the Northern Hemisphere can see it for much of the night. At 9 p.m. ET Saturday, for example, it should be near the handle of the Big Dipper, which is part of the Ursa Major constellation.

Comment: Field Trip: Check it out!

Comet 2

Another comet brightens and now visible in the Northern hemisphere

Terry Lovejoy's new comet has gone from faint to bright in just three weeks and is now a tempting binocular target at dawn.

© Terry Lovejoy
Comet C/2017 E4 Lovejoy was discovered on March 9th by Australian amateur Terry Lovejoy. It's his 6th discovery and seen here on March 25th.
Who doesn't love a comet that exceeds expectations? That's exactly what's happening with Terry Lovejoy's latest discovery, C/2017 E4 Lovejoy.

Discovered on March 10th at magnitude +12, early observations suggested a peak magnitude of +9 in mid-April, assuming it didn't crumble apart en route to an April 23rd perihelion.

Forget that. This fuzzball's already at magnitude +7 - 7.5 and a snap to see in 50-mm binoculars.

I know because I got up Wednesday morning (March 29th) shortly before the start of dawn, pointed my 10×50 glass just below the figure of Equuleus, the Little Horse, and saw a small, dense ball of glowing fuzz without even trying.

Comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak — now circumpolar in Ursa Major — shines at a similar brightness, but it's larger and less condensed and therefore not as easy to see as Lovejoy.
© Bob King
Comet Lovejoy captured with a 135-mm telephoto lens (f/2.8, ISO 2500, 10-second exposure) on Wednesday morning March 29th, when it entered the small constellation Equuleus. Though small at this focal length, the comet's blue-green color is a dead giveaway.
A little more than a week ago, Comet Lovejoy glowed at magnitude +10 - 11; a few days ago it was at +9. Given its meteoric rise in brightness, observers are anticipating the comet to crest to magnitude +6 around perihelion as it describes a roller coaster arc across Pegasus and Andromeda. Twice it passes bright deep-sky objects: the bright globular cluster M15 on April 1st and the Andromeda Galaxy on April 20 - 22. Another easy time to spot it will be on April 8 - 9 alongside β Pegasi in the northwest corner of the Great Square.

Comet 2

Green comet flyby on April 1st

Green comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak is flying over Earth's North Pole this week where sky watchers can find it all night long not far from the bowl of the Big Dipper. At closest approach on April 1st it will be just 21 million km from Earth--an easy target for backyard telescopes and almost visible to the naked eye. Amateur astronomer Yasushi Aoshima sends this picture of the approaching comet from Fukushima, Japan:
© Yasushi Aoshima
Taken by Yasushi Aoshima on March 22, 2017 @ Fukushima, Japan.
"On March 22nd I caught 41P 'eating' M108, the Surfboard Galaxy," says Aoshima. "The comet's green atmosphere appeared to swallow the distant spiral galaxy as it exited Ursa Major."

Fireball 5

Meteor fireball reported over Northeast U.S.

© American Meteor Society (screen capture)
A fist-sized fireball flashed in front of Lori Connolly's car as she drove to work early Wednesday morning.

"Crazy, right? I'm driving and it was right in front of my car. It just came right across the road," the Haverstraw resident said. "It was just an amazing thing to see."

After some investigation, and a call to Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, Connolly learned that it was, in fact, a meteor.

The object Connolly perceived as a fireball traveling across Route 9W at about 6:20 a.m. was seen across the Northeast, according to an online event log maintained by the American Meteor Society. There were 34 sightings from as far away as Michigan and Ontario that were logged by the AMS.

Connolly said the meteor "dissipated" as it crossed the road but, in fact, that was a trick of the eye. What she perceived as directly in front of her car was quite a bit farther away.

"We looked into this, and discovered that a large meteor did light up in the atmosphere roughly between northern Lake Erie and Ottawa at this time," said Kevin Krajick, Lamont-Doherty's senior editor for science news. "It was seen from Michigan to Virginia."

Comment: Earlier on the day of this sighting (March 22nd) another meteor fireball was observed streaking across the U.S. East coast.

Fireball 4

Eyewitnesses wanted: did you see bright green meteor fireball in Irkutsk, Siberia?

© Yuri Smityuk/TASS
Scientists in the Russian city of Irkutsk (Siberia) are searching for people who could have witnessed the fall of a celestial body glowing bright green, Executive Director of the Irkutsk Planetarium Pavel Nikoforov told TASS.

"At 14:39 local time (11:39 GMT), while we were riding in a car along the bridge across the Irkut River towards the Leninsky district, we spotted an unusual glowing object in the daytime sky. It was speeding at a 45 degree angle, but its light went out in just a couple of seconds. We very much hope that Irkutsk's residents may have recorded this phenomenon using their car DVRs. We could collect these recordings and hand them over to scientists," he stated.

The fact that the celestial body was seen in the daytime, speaks volumes for its enormous weight, a source in the Astronomical Observatory of Irkutsk State University told TASS. "We assume that a celestial body weighing several kilograms could be glowing so brightly in the daytime. If we are provided with video recordings showing the bolide, then we could calculate its weight and trajectory," the source added.

In the autumn of 2016, residents of the Irkutsk region and the Republic of Buryatia witnessed a bright green meteor soaring above Lake Baikal. It was later dubbed the Baikal Bolide. Scientists believe that its weight was about 80 kilograms but because of its high speed it burnt up in the atmosphere.

Fireball 5

Meteor fireball streaks across U.S. East coast skies

Did you see a fireball Tuesday night? You weren't alone.

A bright meteor was spotted from New York to Kentucky about 8:40 p.m., prompting more than 100 reports to the American Meteor Society. A high concentration of sightings came from the D.C. area.

"It was the brightest meteor I've ever seen," one Arlington resident wrote.

"I have seen fireballs before. This was the closest one I've ever seen," one Leesburg resident reported "This appeared to be very close and bright. Like you could see the ball of fire at the end of the trail almost."

According to the American Meteor Society, fireballs are very bright meteors, about as bright as Venus in the morning and evening skies.

About 10 to 15 meteorites fall to Earth each day, but sightings are rare since streaking fireballs often fall over the ocean, or during daylight hours when they can't be seen.

Fireball 2

Large blue meteor fireball illuminates sky over Sweden

© Jessica Dellsjö
Bright blue fireball over Sweden on March 20, 2017.
A very large blue fireball illuminated the sky over Sweden around 20:30 UTC (21:30 CET) on March 20, 2017. The event was so powerful that the whole sky lit up, Swedish All Sky Meteor Network astronomers said.

Images of the event immediately started appearing on social networks, with people from the cities of Stockholm, Uppsala and Örebro all reported seeing the event. Reports from eastern Uppland mention sonic boom associated with the event.

"This is something that happens a few times a year," Eric Stempels of the Swedish Allsky Meteor Network project told The Local.

"Because it can happen during the day, when it is cloudy or far from populated areas, these events usually don't get much attention," he said, adding that this one fell in the north-eastern Uppland region.

Experts believe that this particular bolide may have been unusually large and Stempels estimated that it is possible it was between the size of a fist and a football.