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Mon, 25 Jul 2016
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Comet 2

Halley's comet orbit being altered by Venus instead of Jupiter

Halley’s comet.
If you're waiting for Halley's comet to show up exactly 75 years after its 1986 appearance, you may be disappointed. The ball of ice has an orbit that varies by months or even years.

And new research suggests that Venus is responsible for the comet's variations today, rather than the more massive planet Jupiter.

"Comet Halley has been observed throughout history, all the way back to 240 BC by the Chinese," Tjarda Boekholt, an astrophysicist at Leiden Observatory in the Netherlands, told Discover by email.

Erratic Schedule

With many well-documented appearances, scientists quickly realized that the arrival time of the comet was constantly changing. For instance, although it passed Earth in February in 1986, it won't be back until February 2061. In 45 years, it will instead appear in July.

"It is the variation in the time of sightings that provided the first clue to comet Halley's chaotic orbit," Boekholt said. "The orbit of comet Halley is not static, but it is evolving."

Boekholt led a team that investigated the comet's changing orbit. They found that Venus played an important role in revising the comet's orbit in the past, and will probably continue to do so in the future, despite its small stature. Mighty Jupiter often dominates the influence of gravitational bodies due to its high mass, but Venus currently dominates Halley's is movements.

The research will be published in the journal The Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. A preprint is available online.


Huge fireball seen across North Western Australia

© [email protected]
A fireball is caused by a large object entering Earth's atmosphere.
People across the Kimberley have reported seeing a bright fireball streak across the sky, inspiring awe and some fear.

"It was scary, because it came from the airport direction, and then we realised that it was probably space junk or a meteor," talkback caller Monica from Broome told ABC Radio.

"We spend a lot of nights with the kids lying out on trampolines watching shooting stars, but I've never seen anything like that."

The fireball was seen across a wide area of north western Australia just before 7pm on Tuesday.

Camped by the Fitzroy River, Cybil called ABC Radio to describe the awe-inspiring sight.

"Huge, big; it was the brightest thing I've ever seen. It was huge, white, massive. I've never seen anything so big in the sky," she said

About 130km south of Broome, Randal was camped on a cliff overlooking the ocean.

"It just seemed to come right up out of the sea, and then shot right across the Barn Hill camping area where we are," he said.

"My wife was sitting opposite me and she spun around, and we watched it disappear over inland somewhere.

"It was just so, so bright. We were wondering whether one of those missiles had come down from North Korea.

"We've seen shooting stars before, but this just outdid anything."

Fireball 2

Great ball of fire over New Zealand

© Otago Times
A fireball that lit up southern skies last night was not a meteor, but something much rarer, a leading astronomer says.

Minutes after the bright orange ball flashed across the sky about 6.30pm, hundreds of people from Dunedin to Nelson took to social media to report having seen it.

Former resident superintendent of Canterbury University's Mt John Observatory Alan Gilmore said the ball of fire had all of the characteristics of a re-entry of debris from a spacecraft, or piece of equipment which had been orbiting Earth.

"It is not a meteor, I'm certain of that. It took too long to go across the sky.''

Fireball 3

Two meteorites fell at the exact same spot millions of years apart

© Morocco World News
Rabat - Evidence found in the High Atlas Mountains suggests that two meteors fell in the exact same place, potentially millions of years apart. Seven scientists from an international team lead by a researcher at the Hassan II University in Casablanca studied the impact site and found that the impact structure is much older than the meteorite fragments found at the site.

Large meteorites are not decelerated by the atmosphere, so may create impact structures or "shatter cones" when they land. Meteorites are not usually found at impact sites because they are molten or vaporized upon impact, and they are rapidly eroded or broken down by Earth's environment.

This particular site, outside the Village of Agoudal in the High Atlas Mountains, had meteorite fragments at the site, and it was assumed that the meteorite fragments created the impact structure. The new research, which was published by Professor Hasnaa Chennaoui Aoudjehane and the research team in the science journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science on June 2016, claims that the impact structure was already present when a second meteor hit the same spot, leaving behind the fragments.

The estimated diameter of the original impact structure is between 1 and 3 km. Scientists used the average rate of erosion in the High Atlas Mountains to estimate how old the structures are. Based on how much the structure wore down over time, the impact structure is probably 1.25 to 3.75 million years old. This makes the impact structure much older than the meteorite fragments found in the same site.

Discoveries like this can help scientists better understand the impact of a meteor falling to Earth. Research will continue to determine how life in the region was affected at the time of the impact.

Fireball 3

Evidence of huge asteroid impact event found in Australia

© A Glikson
Impact spherules.
Scientists have found evidence of a huge asteroid that struck the Earth early in its life with an impact larger than anything humans have experienced.

Tiny glass beads called spherules, found in north-western Australia were formed from vaporised material from the asteroid impact, said Dr Andrew Glikson from The Australian National University (ANU).

"The impact would have triggered earthquakes orders of magnitude greater than terrestrial earthquakes, it would have caused huge tsunamis and would have made cliffs crumble," said Dr Glikson, from the ANU Planetary Institute.

"Material from the impact would have spread worldwide. These spherules were found in sea floor sediments that date from 3.46 billion years ago."

The asteroid is the second oldest known to have hit the Earth and one of the largest.

Dr Glikson said the asteroid would have been 20 to 30 kilometres across and would have created a crater hundreds of kilometres wide.

About 3.8 to 3.9 billion years ago the moon was struck by numerous asteroids, which formed the craters, called mare, that are still visible from Earth

"Exactly where this asteroid struck the earth remains a mystery," Dr Glikson said.

Comet 2

Comets & Asteroids - Summary for June 2016

During the month of June 2016, 2 new comets were discovered and there was 1 comet recovery. A small asteroid, 2016 HO3, has been discovered in an orbit around the sun that keeps it as a constant companion of Earth, and it will remain so for centuries to come. On June 2nd a small asteroid (1-3 meters wide) hit Earth's atmosphere and exploded over Arizona. Amateur astronomer and comet discoverer Rolf G. Meier died on June 26th, 2016 after a short battle with cancer. "Current comet magnitudes" & "Daily updated asteroid flybys" pages are available at the top of this blog (or just click on the underline text here).
The dates below refer to the date of issuance of CBET (Central Bureau Electronic Telegram) which reported the official news & designations.

Comet Discoveries

June 05 Discovery of C/2016 K1 (LINEAR)
June 24 Discovery of C/2016 M1 (PANSTARRS)
© Remanzacco Blogspot
Comet Recoveries

June 06 Recovery of P/2010 N1 (WISE) as P/2016 GE_216

Fireball 5

Comets and the early Christian mosaics of Ravenna

© Wikimedia Commons
Justinian's Raging Bulls.
The Plague of Justinian has been associated with the extreme weather events of 535 - 536 AD which [in its turn] has been associated with "debris from space impacting the Earth".
The extreme weather events of 535 - 536 were the most severe and protracted short-term episodes of cooling in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 2,000 years.

The event is thought to have been caused by an extensive atmospheric dust veil, possibly resulting from a large volcanic eruption in the tropics, and/or debris from space impacting the Earth.

Its effects were widespread, causing unseasonal weather, crop failures, and famines worldwide.

The Plague of Justinian (541 - 542) was a pandemic that afflicted the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, especially its capital Constantinople, the Sassanid Empire, and port cities around the entire Mediterranean Sea.

One of the greatest plagues in history, this devastating pandemic resulted in the deaths of an estimated 25 million (initial outbreak) to 50 million (two centuries of recurrence) people.

Recent investigations relate this severe plague epidemic to extreme weather events of 535 - 536 considered as an example of volcanic winter.

In a wonderful YouTube video Dr. Ruth Dwyer examines the Ravenna Mosaics and discovers the mosaics clearly depict "debris from space impacting the Earth".

Fireball 3

Fireball lights up Nova Scotia skies

© Fred Thornhill/Reuters
A bright light over Nova Scotia Thursday night was likely a meteor.
A meteor was likely behind numerous reports of a bright light in the skies over Nova Scotia Thursday night.

Numerous people reported on social media seeing it just before 10 p.m.

It was probably a very bright meteor hundreds of kilometres away, said Dave Lane, director of the Saint Mary's University observatory.

"I've only seen one of these things in my lifetime that was bright enough to be spectacular," Lane said, adding he didn't witness the meteor last night.


Impact over Northern Ireland: Hoax or government cover-up?

© Unknown
On February 13th, 2001, a strange airplane crash was observed in the Southwest corner of Northern Ireland, less than a mile away from the border with the Republic of Ireland. There was no airplane, but despite credible witnesses of what may have been an impact event, the story was quickly squashed as a genuine mistake, and then as a hoax. The manner in which this story was squashed with slashing diminutives begs the question: If this is indeed a cover-up, then why?
BBC News, February 13, 2001
Aircraft crashes on mountain

Police in Northern Ireland are investigating reports that a light aircraft has crashed in County Fermanagh.

It is understood that a plane came down at Benaughlin Mountain near Kinawley shortly after 1800 GMT.

It is believed helicopters are being used in the rescue effort.
One day later the same site had the following report:
Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 20:56 GMT, BBC News
Mystery surrounds 'plane crash' reports

Mystery surrounds the source of flames and smoke in the sky over County Fermanagh which has sparked a major search operation.

© Unknown
About 12 people described seeing flames and smoke on the side of the Benaughlin Mountain, near Kinawley, on Tuesday night.

Paul McCaffrey, who raised the alarm with a friend, is convinced he saw something in the sky with smoke billowing from it.

"I saw a dot at the front and a black trail of smoke leading down at an angle towards the mountain," he said.

A British Army helicopter using heat sensitive equipment also flew over the area.

But following more than three hours of extensive searches, nothing was found.

Comment: The author seemed to be having something of a prophetic moment. In the fifteen years that have passed since this article was written, the number of fireballs and meteorites has continuously increased at an exponential rate. It's only a matter of time before one does a serious amount of damage that can't be covered up or explained away.

We wait and watch.

Comet 2

New comet discovered: C/2016 K1 (LINEAR)

CBET nr. 4282, issued on 2016, June 05, announces the discovery of an apparently asteroidal object (magnitude ~18.5) found on CCD images taken on May 31 with the 3.5-m f/1 Space Surveillance Telescope on Atom Peak in the White Sands Missile Range, NM, USA, in the course of the LINEAR survey. This object has been found to cometary appearance by CCD astrometrists elsewhere after it was posted on the Minor Planet Center's NEOCP webpage. The new comet has been designated C/2016 K1 (LINEAR).

We performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the neocp. Stacking of 10 unfiltered exposures, 120 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2016, June 04.4 from H06 (iTelescope network - New Mexico) through a 0.43-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + f/4.5 focal reducer, shows that this object is a comet with a compact coma nearly 8 arcsec in diameter elongated toward PA 225.

Our confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version)
© Remanzacco Blogspot
M.P.E.C. 2016-L34 assigns the following preliminary parabolic orbital elements to comet C/2016 K1: T 2016 July 14.36; e= 1.0; Peri. = 18.66; q = 2.29; Incl.= 90.94