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Mon, 21 Sep 2020
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Comet 2

"Comet of the year" 46P/Wirtanen making close approach, may become visible in December

Comet 46P/Wirtanen
© Yasushi Aoshima
Comet 46P/Wirtanen
Taken by Yasushi Aoshima on October 7, 2018 @ Ishikawa, JAPAN
Astronomers are calling Comet 46P/Wirtanen the "comet of the year." Two months from now, on Dec. 16th, the kilometer-wide ball of dirty ice will come within 11.5 million km of Earth--making it one of the 10 closest-approaching comets of the Space Age. Comet 46P/Wirtanen will probably become a naked eye object for several weeks during the holidays. Here's what it looks like now:

Yasushi Aoshima of Ishikawa, Japan, took the picture using a 12-inch telescope. It shows the comet's green atmosphere which is, impressively, almost twice as wide as the planet Jupiter. The green color comes from diatomic carbon (C2)--a gaseous substance common in comet atmospheres that glows green in the near-vacuum of space.

At the moment, the integrated brightness of the comet is similar to a 10th magnitude star--that is, dim. However, forecasters expect it to brighten more than 200-fold by December. If current trends hold, 46P could ultimately reach magnitude +3, making it not a Great Comet but a very good one, visible to the unaided eye and an easy target for binoculars or small telescopes.

Comment: Close calls are becoming increasingly common, and, while they may be a awesome sight, historically they portend disaster: Also check out SOTT radio's: Behind the Headlines: Who was Jesus? Examining the evidence that Christ may in fact have been Caesar!

Comet 2

5 meteor showers that will light up the night sky this fall

Meteor showers
Autumn is meteor shower season across the Northern Hemisphere with the season's longer nights benefiting those trying to spot a few shooting stars.

The upcoming months feature many minor to moderate meteor showers, but concludes with the Geminids, which features hundreds of multi-colored meteors every night.

Meteor showers occur when the Earth passes through a trail of debris left behind by a comet. The debris is largely just grains of dust that burn brightly when entering the planet's atmosphere.

People 2

Portraits of alleged migrant attacks' victims displayed at German immigration protests

illegal immigration protest

Protestors in Germany carry portraits of those allegedly killed by illegal immigrants
The unrest in the Saxon city was prompted by the death of Daniel Hillig, a German national, allegedly killed by two migrants on August 26. The incident led to ongoing mass demonstrations and clashes between different groups of protesters and police.

At least 4,500 participants took part in an anti-immigrant demonstration on Saturday in Chemnitz, the local police stated, adding that A total of 18 people including three police officers were injured during the day.

Comment: Deutsche Welle reports:
Chemnitz police order far-right protesters to go home

Two competing demonstrations in Chemnitz were very much a clash of two Germanys. No police presence could obscure the fundamental conflict, indeed naked hatred, between these two sets of people.

Police in the Chemnitz said Saturday they had ordered the organizers of an anti-migrant protest to call off their march.

The rally, which drew about 4,500 participants, surpassed its authorized time limit, leading to concerns about public safety, officials said. They added that some 3,500 counterdemonstrators had attempted to interfere with the march by blocking its planned route.

As night fell, protesters from both sides were refusing to leave the area, prompting police to bring in water cannons, the DPA news agency reported.

"Our units were at times forced to use direct force," police said on Twitter. "We repeat our call, continue to refrain from violence."

More than 1,200 police officers were deployed to Chemnitz ahead of Saturday's protests, which came one week after a 35-year-old German man was fatally stabbed in the city. Two men from Syria and Iraq have been arrested over the death.

The incident sparked attacks on foreigners and violent clashes that shocked the rest of the country.

Saturday's right-wing rally was led by the anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the populist PEGIDA movement. Organizers called it a "mourning march," with many participants holding German flags and pictures of alleged victims of migrant violence.

Large crowds, including hundreds of rival demonstrators, also turned out for a rally opposing xenophobia and anti-migrant sentiment.

Many on the right are angry with Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to welcome hundreds of thousands of mainly Middle Eastern asylum-seekers to Germany in 2015. The influx led to a backlash in some parts of the country that resulted in the AfD winning seats in parliament for the first time.

Comet 2

Comet: C/2018 N2 (ASASSN)

MPEC 2018-O01, issued on 2018, July 16, announces the discovery of a comet (magnitude ~16.1) in the course of the "All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae" (ASASSN) program, in images taken 2018 July 7-11 with the 14-cm "Cassius" survey telescope at Cerro Tololo. The new comet has been designated C/2018 N2 (ASASSN).

I performed follow-up measurements of this object, while it was still on the PCCP webpage. Stacking of 10 unfiltered exposures, 60 seconds each, obtained remotely on 2018, July 15.7 from Q62 (iTelescope network) through a 0.43-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD, shows that this object is a comet with a diffuse coma about 15 arcsec in diameter.

My confirmation image (click on it for a bigger version)
Comnet C/2018 NZ
© Remanzacco Blogspot


NASA may have recovered meteorite from the ocean

Underwater Meteorite
© Pixabay Composite
Just two days into their search for a giant meteorite that crashed off the coast of Washington State, Dr. Marc Fries and the crew of the Nautilus have accomplished their mission: they believe they have successfully recovered pieces of the two-ton meteorite that created a huge fireball the size of a minivan as it streaked into the Pacific. Further analysis is in the works but - if these fragments are genuine - they'll be the first-ever pieces of a meteorite recovered from the ocean.

Based on Fries' calculations of the meteorite's trajectory, the Nautilus narrowed its search to a 0.4 square-mile patch of the ocean. The area was first searched with sonar, then with two ROVs (remotely operated vehicles) named Argus and Hercules. The team then used "a suction hose sampler, magnetic plate, and sediment scoop" to pick up the most promising pieces of rock.

The two fragments found so far are thought to be the outer shell of the meteorite (called the fusion crust) which the Nautilus Live blog describes as "meteorite exterior that melted and flowed like glaze on pottery as it entered the atmosphere."

Comet 2

'Oumuamua reclassified from 'asteroid' to 'comet' (because they're essentially the same thing)

Researchers have found that 'Oumuamua - the first confirmed object to enter the solar system from interstellar space - was a comet, releasing just enough gas to subtly change its course.
© ESA / Hubble / NASA / ESO / M. Kornmesser
An artist's impression shows 'Oumuamua as a comet.
In October 2017 the robotic telescope Pan-STARRS in Hawai'i detected an unusual object entering the solar system from interstellar space. In the days after the discovery, every available telescope, including Hubble, was aimed at the interloper to collect as much information as possible before it left our system. Since then, astronomers worldwide have been reviewing the observations, trying to squeeze as much knowledge as possible about the unexpected visitor.

Named 'Oumuamua ("first scout" or "first visitor" in Hawaiian), this envoy from the stars appeared to have the form of an elongated cigar - or a flattened pancake, depending whom you ask - 800 meters (0.5 mile) long and 10 times thinner. It came tumbling into the solar system from above the plane of the planets, only to have its path changed by the by the Sun's gravitational pull before leaving out system again, never to return.

Comment: How these numpties still don't get it is beyond us.

Asteroids and comets ARE THE SAME THINGS. The former just 'become' the latter when they discharge electrically due to relative electric potential difference as they pass through space.


US National Science and Technology Council calls for improved asteroid detection, tracking and deflection

NASA asteroid tracking deflection

On Wednesday, June 20, 2018, the U.S.'s National Science and Technology Council released a report calling for improved asteroid detection, tracking and deflection. NASA is taking part in the effort, along with federal emergency and White House officials.
The U.S. government is stepping up efforts to protect the planet from incoming asteroids that could wipe out entire regions or even continents.

The National Science and Technology Council released a report Wednesday calling for improved asteroid detection, tracking and deflection. NASA is participating, along with federal emergency, military, White House and other officials.

For now, scientists know of no asteroids or comets heading our way. But one could sneak up on us, and that's why the government wants a better plan.

Comment: And they are sneaking up on us with increasing frequency.

NASA's planetary defense officer, Lindley Johnson, said scientists have found 95 percent of all these near-Earth objects measuring one kilometer (two-thirds of a mile) or bigger. But the hunt is still on for the remaining 5 percent and smaller rocks that could still inflict big damage.

Comment: Looks like someone has been paying attention to the alarming number of space rocks in our skies recently:


Asteroid 3 times larger than Chelyabinsk making close approach... TODAY!

asteroid 2010 WC9
Asteroid 2010 WC9
Last night in Australia, near-Earth asteroid 2010 WC9 glided silently across the starry sky of Brisbane while the city's residents slept. Well... not every resident slept. Amateur astronomer
asteroid 2010 WC9
© Dennis Simmons
Asteroid 2010 WC9
Dennis Simmons was wide awake and recorded the flyby:

"The asteroid moved rapidly through the constellation Hercules shining about as brightly as a 15th magnitude star," says Simmons. "The 'wobbly' appearance of the trail is as a result of slight periodic errors in the telescope mount's gear train. This is not caused by the asteroid tumbling!"

Tonight, the view will improve - a lot. On May 15th, 2010 WC9 will fly through the Earth-Moon system, splitting the distance between our planet and the Moon. At closest approach (203,000 km), the asteroid will glow like an 11th magnitude star (~40 times brighter than shown above) as it races through the southern constellation Pavo (the Peacock).

2010 WC9 is known as the "lost asteroid" because astronomers lost track of it soon after it was discovered in November 2010. The asteroid receded from Earth and didn't return for nearly 8 years... until now.


Rogue star Gilese 710 hurtling towards our solar system will arrive sooner than we thought

Gliese 623 A

Gliese 710 may be as dim as a red dwarf star, like Gliese 623 A (M2.5V) and B (M5.8Ve) at lower right.
According to new calculations, we may have a little less time to prepare for a star on course to kiss the edges of our Solar System.

Yep. Dwarf star Gliese 710, which we've known about for some time, could now arrive in 1.29 million years, instead of the previously calculated 1.36 million years.

Gliese 710 is what is classified as a rogue star - one that has gone roaming across the galaxy, free of the gravitational chains that normally hold stars in position.

At a speed of 51,499 kilometres per hour (32,000 miles per hour), it's not quite fast enough to be considered a runaway star, but it's still travelling at a hefty clip.

Comment: Whilst the flyby is apparently over a million years away, we should bear in mind that Gilese 710 is a body we know about and the predictions are based on our current models, because it is often the case that we are taken by surprise:


Incoming close calls! NASA says 5 'close' asteroid flybys will take place today

The five asteroids will fly past the Earth roughly ten times farther away than the Moon but at tremendous speed.
The Earth will experience a number of (relatively) close calls in one day, as NASA reports that an alarming total of five asteroids will hurtle towards - but happily not quite at - our planet.

The Center for Near Earth Object Studies at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California publishes a comprehensive list of space rocks that are worth keeping an eye on, just to prepare yourself for any potential armageddons or extinction-level collisions. These rocks can range in size from a few meters in length to asteroids more akin to skyscrapers.

The series of space rock flybys begins at 10:29 UTC Sunday as asteroid 2013 US3, travelling at a respectable 7.69 km/s (27,646 kph) with a diameter of between 160-360 meters whizzes past us. For comparison, the Eiffel Tower measures 324 meters from ground to tip.