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Thu, 05 Dec 2019
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Fireballs

Fireball 3

'It got bigger and bigger and bigger and popped': Meteor fireball sighted off Kāpiti Coast, New Zealand

Fireball over NZ
© stuff.co.nz (file photo)

At first Gary Wheaton thought he was looking at a flare, until he saw a plane flying beneath it.

Now the Paekakariki man believes what he saw off the Kāpiti Coast about 1.20pm on Monday was likely a meteor that was also spotted over Nelson.

"It was like a streak of light screaming across the sky," Wheaton said. "It got bigger and bigger and bigger and popped."

Wheaton called his daughter out who got there to see the "huge smoke trail" it left across the sky.

"It just happened so quick," he said.

He initially thought it was a flare from a boat but realised - due to seeing a plane in the sky beneath it - it was far too high.

Fireball 2

Bright slow-moving meteor fireball recorded over the English Channel

English Channel meteor trail
© FIONA HAYES
The trail, seen here over Torquay, was thought initially to have been caused by an aircraft
A bright, slow-moving meteor fireball was recorded over the English Channel on September 8, 2019. The American Meteor Society (AMS) received 179 reports from people living across England and northern France.


Meteor

Mystery boom resounds throughout northern New York; shakes buildings

Sarnac Lake, NY
© Mwanner/Wikimedia Commons
Some people heard it as a boom, some as a bang, some as a series of explosions. Imagine the noise of a dump truck being dropped from 100 feet in the air onto pavement. It shook buildings.

Many people said it sounded like it was coming from inside their building on on their block. But it wasn't just local; people heard it around the same time across a huge swath of northern New York. In response to an Enterprise Facebook post, people wrote that they had heard it as far west as Cranberry Lake, as far north as Malone, as far east as AuSable Forks and as far south as Eagle Bay, plus throughout the Tri-Lakes villages.

That boom was heard in Saranac Lake 10:13 a.m. Some people also reported hearing a later one, perhaps around 1 p.m.

The cause of the noise remained a mystery as of Friday afternoon.

There was no record of any earthquake within 2,000 miles of the Adirondacks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's online global tracker.

Comment: See also:


Meteor

Bright flash of light, loud boom filmed in Acworth, Georgia

Flash and boom in Acworth, GA
© YouTube/AMS/M. Nixon
On August 30, 2019, a bright flash of light and loud boom from an exploding meteor was recorded on a home surveillance camera in Acworth, Georgia. The footage was uploaded to the American Meteor Society by M. Nixon.


Camcorder

Meteor fireball caught on home surveillance camera over Nutley, New Jersey

Fireball over Nutley, NJ
© YouTube/AMS Meteors/S. Petronio
On September 3, 2019, S. Petronio uploaded footage to the American Meteor Society's website of a fireball as it flew over Nutley, New Jersey:


Comment: A loud boom attributed to an exploding meteor was heard just the day before in the New York area.

American Meteor Society: Loud boom heard in central New York caused by meteor


Meteor

American Meteor Society: Loud boom heard in central New York caused by meteor

Daytime meteor - stock
© ABC News
Stock photo
People living in Oswego, Madison and Onondaga counties reported hearing a loud 'boom' just after 5 p.m. on Monday that, in some cases, shook their homes.

Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society says a fireball, which was larger and brighter than typical meteors, entered the Earth's atmosphere over Lake Ontario. It also caused a loud sound.

"Fireballs that are larger than normal and manage to penetrate down to the lower atmosphere will produce a sonic boom. The folks that did report some sound, they happen to be pretty close to the track of this object," Lunsford said.


Fireball

Asteroid changes color and sprouts comet-like tail

Asteroid 6478 Gault
© NASA, ESA, K. Meech and J. Kleyna, O. Hainaut
The asteroid 6478 Gault is seen with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, showing two narrow, comet-like tails of debris that tell us that the asteroid is slowly undergoing self-destruction. The bright streaks surrounding the asteroid are background stars. The Gault asteroid is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
Last December, scientists discovered an "active" asteroid within the asteroid belt, sandwiched between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. The space rock, designated by astronomers as 6478 Gault, appeared to be leaving two trails of dust in its wake — active behavior that is associated with comets but rarely seen in asteroids.

While astronomers are still puzzling over the cause of Gault's comet-like activity, an MIT-led team now reports that it has caught the asteroid in the act of changing color, in the near-infrared spectrum, from red to blue. It is the first time scientists have observed a color-shifting asteroid, in real-time.

"That was a very big surprise," says Michael Marsset, a postdoc in MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). "We think we have witnessed the asteroid losing its reddish dust to space, and we are seeing the asteroid's underlying, fresh blue layers."

Marsset and his colleagues have also confirmed that the asteroid is rocky — proof that the asteroid's tail, though seemingly comet-like, is caused by an entirely different mechanism, as comets are not rocky but more like loose snowballs of ice and dust.

"It's the first time to my knowledge that we see a rocky body emitting dust, a little bit like a comet," Marsset says. "It means that probably some mechanism responsible for dust emission is different from comets, and different from most other active main-belt asteroids."

Marsset and his colleagues, including EAPS Research Scientist Francesca DeMeo and Professor Richard Binzel, have published their results today in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Question

What was that loud boom heard in northern York County, Pennsylvania?

Loud boom in York County PA
© Getty Images (stock photo)
Was it an earthquake?

York County 911 received several calls late Friday night about a loud boom in the northern end of the county, according to a dispatcher. One of the calls came around 10:50 p.m. from the area of Siddonsburg Road and Glen Arden Drive in Fairview Township.

Emergency responders in both York and Cumberland counties responded to check it out, but no one found anything, said Chris Weidenhammer, deputy fire chief for the Fairview Township Fire Department. Those that went out included Fairview, Monaghan and Lower Allen townships.

The Fairview Township Fire Department posted on its Facebook page that officials even checked a pipeline but nothing was found.

No earthquakes were recorded. "It's a great mystery," Weidenhammer said.

Fireball

Bright meteor fireball streaks over Edmonton, Canada

Rain wasn't the only thing falling in our city this evening, social media was flooded with reports of a sighting of what appears to be a meteor over Edmonton.
Blazing Meteor
© Pete Saloutos

Comment: More views from social media:



The American Meteor Society (AMS) received 106 reports about the meteor fireball, which was seen over Alberta, MT and Saskatchewan on Sunday, September 1st 2019 around 04:28 UT.

"This fireball would have been seen for 600km from either side of it, probably," said Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society, who speculated that the object was likely a bolide, a very bright meteor, based on the reports he has received.

The meteor spectrum ranges from meteor, to fireball, to bolide and super bolide, which is brighter than the Moon and almost as bright as the Sun.


Comet 2

Dr. Napier fingers fragmented comet in Younger Dryas and Bronze Age impacts

Comet 332P Fragmenting
© NASA, ESA, D. Jewitt (UCLA)
This image, captured on January 27 2016 by the Hubble Space Telescope, is one of three showing Comet 332P fragmenting as it nears the sun.
Folks, I am sorry to have been so scarce in recent months. Among other excuses for the inexcusable, the auto-mailer for subscribers to the site went down, and I felt I needed to repair it before posting. Fixing it turned into a mess which led to my continued procrastination. Much has happened in recent months in our subject though, and I look forward to catching up and posting more, as the year closes out.

First up is a fabulous new paper from Tusk friend and Scottish astronomer William Napier. Bill is a member of the Comet Research Group and contributes his world class knowledge on the behavior of comets in support of the Younger Dryas Impact Hypothesis. In this contribution he further refines the culprit in our favorite cataclysm, a fragmenting comet. But keep in mind, as sometimes others have not, that the subject comet is fragmenting IN SPACE over thousands of years, not in the earth's atmosphere. See The Bos misdirecting the nature and context of the fragmentation events here and here, and the CRG response here.