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Thu, 27 Apr 2017
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Fire in the Sky


Two meteor fireballs captured twenty hours apart on November 15 over Spain

© Screenshot via YouTube/Meteors
Very bright fireball over the South of Spain on 15 Nov. at 2:55 UT (3: 55 local time). It belongs to the Southern Taurids meteor shower.

The event took place during the Super Moon and was produced by a fragment from Comet 2P/Encke that hit the atmosphere at about 110.000 km/h. The bolide began at a height of about 108 km over the province of Granada and ended at an altitude of 60 km over the south of the province of Jaen.

Fireball recorded on 15 Nov. 2016 at 22:55 UT (23:55 local time) from Calar Alto Observatory (Spain). According to the preliminary analysis of this event, it would be a Southern Taurid fireball that overflew the North of Africa, produced by a meteoroid from Comet 2P/Encke.


NASA and FEMA rehearse for an asteroid strike on Los Angeles in 2020

© JPL-Caltech/NASA
An artist’s concept of a near-Earth object.
Imagine if scientists discovered that an asteroid was hurtling toward Los Angeles.

The possibility has existed on the pages of Hollywood scripts. But in what may be a case of life imitating art, NASA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other government agencies engaged last month in a planetary protection exercise to consider the potentially devastating consequences of a 330-foot asteroid hitting the Earth.

The simulation projected a worst-case blast wave by an asteroid strike in 2020 that could level structures across 30 miles, require a mass evacuation of the Los Angeles area and cause tens of thousands of casualties.

In 1998, the movie "Armageddon" dramatized an even greater fictional threat. In that blockbuster, a ragtag crew was sent on a mission to drill into an asteroid and set off a nuclear bomb to avert a global catastrophe. As the character Harry Stamper, portrayed by Bruce Willis, summed up to his crewmates: "The United States government just asked us to save the world."


Sonic boom over South Dakota remains a mystery

© Wikimedia Commons
A meteor during the peak of the 2009 Leonid Meteor Shower. The photograph shows the meteor, afterglow, and wake as distinct components.
Spearfish — The mystery of what caused Monday's loud boom remains.

Some theories have been refuted, while more mysterious references have appeared.

Shortly before 2 p.m., the boom was heard throughout the Black Hills. Some people said it shook their homes or businesses, rattling windows, and scaring them in several instances.

But the noise was heard in a much larger area than the Black Hills. Responses to Tuesday's Black Hills Pioneer story reported hearing the noise from Western Nebraska to Southeast Montana.

Kathy Griesse reported hearing the noise near the Agate Fossil Beds National Monument south of Harrison, Neb. She said it sounded like the noise came from the north and west of her. Additionally, she talked to people in Crawford, Neb., where people told her windows rattled at the sound of the boom; people in Whitney, Neb., also heard the noise.

On the northern end of reports, Lane Pilster said he heard the boom at his ranch, 14 miles west of Alzada, Mont.

This is about a 200-mile straight-line distance between the two reported locations.

Pilster reported that he and his dad both heard the noise to the south of them.

"The beginning of it was intense, but then faded off with a dull rumbling like a jet was flying by. The sound probably lasted about 8-10 seconds," Pilster said.

He also said he felt a moderate vibration around 5:30 a.m. Monday, and that it lasted 15-20 seconds.

He wasn't the only one to hear a strange noise apart from the 2 p.m. event.

Brad Scott, of Spearfish, heard a loud boom in downtown Spearfish around 7:30 a.m. Sunday

He described it as the "sound of about 8 shotguns going off at once."

So what was the noise?

Fireball 3

Fireball spotted in the sky over Nova Scotia

© CTV News, Canada
Corinne Reid saw something quite spectacular in the evening sky yesterday! What was it?
Yesterday, at precisely 4:40pm, flames raced towards earth over Dominion Cape Breton. Luckily for us, Corinne Reid had a camera handy and snapped some amazing photos. She posted them on my Facebook page.

At first glance, I thought it might be a fireball; after all, this is the time for the annual Taurid Meteor shower; the peak occurs this Friday. And to add to the intrigues, a viewer reported a bright light streaming across the sky near Port Felix, at the same time the day the before!

Over the next little while, more information trickled in. Corinne tells us that the "event" lasted about 10 minutes; time enough for her to get her camera. She zoomed in with the 200X digital zoom on her camera.

The post and photos got some very interesting comments from experts in various fields. A member of an Observatory club in Toronto said it was an aircraft.

Locally, Jeff Dalton weighed in and added that it could very well have been space junk, entering our atmosphere.

Michael Boschat at the Halifax Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society Canada says " 100% definitely a short aircraft contrail image. " He says that even seasoned observers occasionally have a difficult time differentiating them from fireballs.

That does make sense: we're seeing a ball of fire because the jet is moving away from the observer. It's all about the angle of the jet in in sky in relation to the photographer.

Jeff Dalton made a good point and it's something I say a lot too: "Whatever it may be, or was, it is a neat sight. I keep telling people to keep an eye on the sky because there are all kinds of things to see above, day and night! This is yet another example".

Fireball 2

Bright meteor fireball observed over North Dakota and Minnesota

© Google/AMS (screen capture)
An unusual sighting for many people Sunday night, reports of a huge flash in the sky about 6 p.m. It has many people wondering what they saw and how typical this is.

"It will be bright so it will catch your eye if you are looking the right way," said MSUM Astronomy Professor Juan Cabanela.

Hundreds of people commented on the Valley News Live Facebook page about a huge fireball in the sky.

"I would count myself lucky in the sense that is a really cool thing to see," stated Cabanela.

A report from Red Lake, Minnesota said "I was in the woods with some friends and we seen a bright white light, lit up everything in the woods."

Another from Grafton North, Dakota, "I seen a huge flash and nothing else. It was unexplainable."

"Fireballs are fairly rare, they are the biggest of the meteors and so they also tend to be sporadic and not necessarily always associated with a meteor shower," explained Cabanela.

A map from the American Meteor Society, a place that tracks meteor sightings, shows that 67 people reported this fireball. The sightings were reported mainly in North Dakota and Minnesota but also in South Dakota and Manitoba, Canada.


Surprise! Newfound asteroid 2016 VA gives Earth a close shave

The near-Earth asteroid 2016 VA (central dot), as viewed by the Virtual Telescope Project on Nov. 1, 2016.
A small asteroid buzzed Earth last night (Nov. 1), just hours after astronomers first spotted the space rock.

The asteroid 2016 VA zoomed within about 48,000 miles (77,000 kilometers) of the planet at 8:32 p.m. EDT (0032 GMT on Nov. 2), according to researchers with the Minor Planet Center (MPC) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. To put that into perspective, the moon orbits Earth at an average distance of 239,000 miles (385,000 km).

The space rock, which is thought to be 23 to 72 feet (7 to 22 meters) wide, was traveling about 48,000 mph (77,000 km/h) relative to Earth during the close encounter, MPC scientists said.

2016 VA was discovered just yesterday, by astronomers with the Mt. Lemmon Survey in Arizona. Surprise asteroid encounters like last night's flyby aren't uncommon; millions of space rocks are thought to orbit the sun in Earth's neighborhood, and scientists have discovered just 15,000 of them.

Comment: This incident proves, once again, that scientists working on spotting and logging Near Earth Objects about as effective as someone looking for a needle in a haystack.

Fireball 2

Meteor fireball seen over Perth, Western Australia

© So Perth
Green fireball, somewhat similar to what was described over Perth tonight, over South American nations Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay in 2015.
A huge ball of fire was seen streaking over Perth. People across Perth have seen a huge ball of fireball over the city tonight. Some people even said they heard explosions like fireworks in the moments afterward.

Perthites took to social media to report seeing the huge fireball streak across the sky, just after 7pm Wednesday evening.

At the time a crescent moon could be seem to the west-south-west and the first evening stars were visible, just after the sun sank.

People quickly reported on Twitter and Facebook that they had seen a fireball, that lasted around 30-seconds, and even heard explosions in the moments afterward.

JBE on Twitter wrote, "Gorgeous streaking green light in Swanbourne!"

"It was spectacular - bright green. I thought it was a flare at first," Katjo said.

People from Mandurah, Mt Pleasant, Perth's coastal suburbs all said they said the bright lights. Others said they heard loud booms around that time.

"I thought I heard like 3 fireworks going off," said Rob.

It's possible the fireball was connected to the South Taurid meteor shower, which peaks every year around late October and early November.

The award winning Perth Fireballs in the Sky app is the place to go to report sightings.

Fireball 4

Evening meteor fireball lights up skies from Ontario to Massachusetts

© AMS Meteors
Heatmap of witness location and first estimated trajectory.

More than 160 reports

The AMS has received over 160 reports so far about of a fireball event over seen over Pennsylvania on November 1st, 2016 around 08:15pm EDT (Nov. 2nd ~ 00:15 UT). The fireball was seen primarily from Pennsylvania but witnesses from Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia, Michigan, Massachusetts, Delaware and Ontario (Canada) also reported the event.


Below is the map of the witnesses location with the first estimated trajectory. The preliminary estimated trajectory plotted from the witness reports shows the meteor was traveling from the North East to the South West and ended its flight near the Pine Creek Valley.

Fireball 2

Multiple people across northeast U.S. report seeing fireball Tuesday night

The American Meteor Society says they received more than 160 reports of a fireball sighting on Tuesday night.

Primarily seen in Pennsylvania, the fireball was also spotted over a number of northeastern states, including New York. Many people in Buffalo said they saw it.

The sightings occurred around 8:15 p.m.

Fireball 2

Meteor fireball streaks across northern Japan (VIDEOS)

Fireball streaks across northern Japan
People in northern Japan saw a rare fireball streak across the sky early Monday.

A Nippon TV weather camera captured video of the fireball. The fiery, greenish object shot across the sky for 15 seconds before vanishing to the northeast.

One astronomer said the object was likely a brighter-than-typical meteor, which is technically called a fireball. The astronomer speculated that it could have been caused by space debris such as a satellite fragment burning up as it entered the atmosphere.