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Fireballs

Fireball 2

Russian meteor may have gangmates in tow

Russian Meteor
© RIA NOVOSTI/SPL
The Chelyabinsk meteor caused a fireball in the sky over Russia in February.

The house-sized rock that exploded spectacularly in the skies near Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February may have been a member of a gang of asteroids that still poses a threat to Earth, a new study says. The evidence is circumstantial, but future observations could help to settle the question.

On 15 February, an 11,000-tonne space rock slammed into the atmosphere above Russia, producing the most powerful impact since the Tunguska explosion in 1908 - which may also have been caused by an asteroid - and generating a shock wave that damaged buildings and injured more than 1,000 people. The 18-metre-wide object could not be seen as it approached the planet because it was obscured by the Sun's glare, but observations made while it was in the atmosphere have enabled several groups of researchers to estimate its orbit2.

However, the estimates varied so much that there was no clear orbit that researchers could use to hunt for sibling asteroids on a similar path, say Carlos and Raúl de la Fuente Marcos, orbital dynamicist brothers at the Complutense University of Madrid.

They decided to tackle the problem with brute computational force, running simulations of billions of possible orbits to find the ones most likely to have led to a collision. They then used the average of the ten best orbits to search a NASA asteroid catalogue for known objects on similar paths. They found about 20, ranging in size from 5 to 200 metres across, they report in an article to be published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters1.

Fireball 5

Meteorite hits village in NW China

Meteorite Impact
© Weibo
This photo taken on August 1, 2013, shows the dump site which was hit by a meteorite in a village of Akto County of northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
A meteorite hit a village in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on Thursday, CCTV.com reports.

The meteorite crashed at a dump site in a village of Xinjing's Akto County around 2:00 a.m. Thursday and punched a 3-meter wide, 2-meter deep hole in the ground.

Local authorities say no casualties have been reported and investigation and research work on the meteorite fragments is ongoing.

Fireball

Comet seen from Honduras to Cayman Islands and Jamaica, 29 July 2013: Fragments into stream of 'intense' exploding fireballs


A meteorite passed over Cayman's skies Monday night, causing a little alarm and a lot of excitement.

Chris Cook, president of the Astronomical Society, explained that sighting the object, that moved slowly across the sky in a shower of light around 10pm, was unusual, but nothing to be alarmed about.


Comment: Nothing to see here folks, it's just a fragment from some larger body that is apparently on its way to smash up a chemical plant in Florida...

Explosions rock Florida gas plant, force evacuations


Image
"It was a very small asteroid, a fireball travelling from Honduras, across Cayman to Jamaica, a meteor that broke up. It's not unusual for these things to happen, although it is more unusual actually to see it," Mr. Cook said.

While regular meteor showers are commonplace, he said, this event was "absolutely unpredictable", recalling that people started "waking up" to "near-Earth objects" only a couple of years ago when the massive comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashed into Jupiter, the scars of which, apparently, remain visible.


Comment: Small correction: comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 smashed into Jupiter a couple of decades ago. Since then, Jupiter has been hit at least 3 more times by similarly-sized objects, our own Moon has been hit, and tens of thousands of fireballs have been reported all over this planet, including the February 2013 Chelyabinsk blast that sent shockwaves around the world (twice), apparently the largest celestial event we've had since the 1908 Tunguska overhead cometary explosion.


Comment: Pretty rare thing?! Somebody isn't doing his job properly...

Check out SOTT.net's 73 pages of archived fireball sightings from the past few years:

Fire in the Sky

Meanwhile, "coming from Honduras and moving northeast" takes this meteor or comet fragment (with train of meteors) over Florida on Monday night, which coincided with the explosions that hit the gas plant in Lake County, Florida.


Fireball 5

Did a meteor explode over Orange County, California? Residents report tremendous explosion

Meteor
© Wally Pacholka / astropics.com
A meteor pierces the night sky in Joshua Tree during a Perseid meteor shower. Residents in Lake Forest's Foothill Ranch community say a loud explosion and a flash of light Tuesday morning were the result of a meteor falling.
Unlike trees, when a meteor falls in the wilderness, everyone can hear it.

And some Orange County residents think that's exactly what they heard when a thunderous boom rattled windows, scared pets and startled homeowners from their sleep early Tuesday morning.

About 12:15 a.m., the Orange County Sheriff's Department received three or four calls from residents in Lake Forest's Foothill Ranch community about a loud explosion and a flash of light. Several South Orange County residents also tweeted about the incident, asking about the source of the blast.

Entire neighborhoods emptied into the streets in the middle of the night, residents said, with some pointing to what looked like a cloudy path overhead as the telltale sign of some galactic visitor.

Fireball 5

Close approach of Asteroid 2003 DZ15

M.P.E.C. 2013-O29, issued on 2013 July 20, reports the recovery of the Apollo asteroid 2003 DZ15 (magnitude 18) by F51 Pan-STARRS 1, Haleakala, on images taken on July 19.4 with a 1.8-m Ritchey-Chretien + CCD.

2003 DZ15 was discovered on February 2003 by 608 Haleakala-NEAT/MSSS and it has an estimated size of 95 m - 210 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=22.2) and it will have a close approach with Earth at about 9.1 LD (Lunar Distances = ~384,000 kilometers) or 0.0233 AU (1 AU = ~150 million kilometers) at 0037 UT on 2013 July 30. This asteroid will reach the peak magnitude ~16.5 on 29 and 30 July 2013. This is its closest approach to the Earth for this century, although it will make a pass nearly as close to the Earth in 2057 on February 12th.

We performed some follow-up measurements of this object, from the Q62 ITelescope network (Siding Spring, AU) on 2013, July 28.6, through a 0.50-m f/6.8 astrograph + CCD + focal reducer. Below you can see our image, single 120-second exposure, taken with the asteroid at magnitude ~16.6 and moving at ~40.80 "/min. At the moment of the close approach 2003 DZ15 will move at ~52 "/min. Click on the image below to see a bigger version (the asteroid is trailed in the image due to its fast speed).
Asteroid 2003 DZ15
© Remanzacco Observatory
Here you can see a short animation showing the movement of 2003 DZ15 (three consecutive 120-second exposure).

Fireball 3

Yet another close shave! Near-Earth asteroid 2003 DZ15 fly-by, 30 July 2013

Asteroid 2003 DZ15
© Created by the author using JPL’s Small-Body Database Browser
The current orbital position of asteroid 2003 DZ15.
The Earth will get another close shave Monday, when the 152 metre asteroid 2003 DZ15 makes a pass by our fair planet on the night of July 29th/30th at 3.5 million kilometres distant. This is over 9 times the Earth-Moon distance and poses no threat to our world.

This is much smaller than 2.75 kilometre 1998 QE2, which sailed by (bad pun intended) our fair world at 5.8 million kilometres distant on May 31st, 2013. The Virtual Telescope Project will be presenting a free online event to monitor the passage of NEA 2003 DZ15 starting Monday night July 29th at 22:00 UT/6:00 PM EDT.

An Apollo asteroid, 2003 DZ15 was confirmed by the Lowell Observatory and NEAT's Mount Palomar telescope upon discovery in February 2003. This is its closest approach to the Earth for this century, although it will make a pass nearly as close to the Earth in 2057 on February 12th.

Fireball 5

Newfound asteroid flies by earth tonight

2013 NE19
© NASA/JPL-Caltech
Diagram showing orbit of near-Earth asteroid 2013 NE19, which passes close to Earth on July 22, 2013.
Credit:
A newfound asteroid about the size of a football field will cruise past Earth tonight (July 22), and you can follow all the action live online.

The near-Earth asteroid 2013 NE19, estimated to be between 194 feet and 426 feet wide (59 to 130 meters), will pass within 2.6 million miles (4.2 million kilometers) of Earth tonight - about 11 times the distance between our planet and the moon. There is no danger that it will strike Earth on this pass, scientists say.

The online Slooh Space Camera will webcast live views of 2013 NE19's close approach as seen from an observatory in the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. You can watch the asteroid webcast live here on SPACE.com at 9 p.m. EDT (0100 GMT Tuesday), courtesy of Slooh.

Asteroid 2013 NE19, which was discovered just last Monday (July 15), will be quite faint, making it a difficult target for backyard observers. But it should be readily visible in Slooh's remote-controlled telescope, the group said.

"Slooh's imaging technology and high-altitude location in the Canary Islands are well suited for a tricky object like this, which may be impossible for garden-variety setups to capture," Slooh CEO Michael Paolucci said in a statement.

Fireball 4

Remembering the Great Meteor Procession of 1860

"Year of meteors! Brooding year!" - Walt Whitman
The Meteor of 1860
© Frederic Church, courtesy of Judith Filenbaum Hernstadt
Painting of The Meteor of 1860 by Hudson River School artist Frederic Church.
July 20th is a red letter date in space history. Apollo 11, the first crewed landing on the Moon, took place on this day in 1969. Viking 1 also made the first successful landing on Mars, seven years later to the day in 1976.

A remarkable astronomical event also occurred over the northeastern United States 153 years ago today on the night of July 20th, known as the Great Meteor Procession of 1860. And with it came a mystery of poetry, art and astronomy that was only recently solved in 2010.

A meteor procession occurs when an incoming meteor breaks up upon reentry into our atmosphere at an oblique angle. The result can be a spectacular display, leaving a brilliant glowing train in its wake. Unlike early morning meteors that are more frequent and run into the Earth head-on as it plows along in its orbit, evening meteors are rarer and have to approach the Earth from behind. In contrast, these often leave slow and stately trains as they move across the evening sky, struggling to keep up with the Earth.

Stormtrooper

Russian military stages biggest war games since Soviet times

160,000 servicemen, 1000 tanks, 130 planes and 70 ships are taking part in Russia's biggest military drill since Soviet times. The war games will continue in the country's Far East until July 20.


The maneuvers are the latest in series of surprise military checks which performed by Russia, in an effort to reveal and oust flaws in the country's defense program.

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu received an order to test the battle readiness of the Eastern command, which unites military forces in the Far East and Trans-Baikal. The request was received from President Vladimir Putin at 01:00 local time (21:00 GMT) on Saturday, July 13.

Following the order, 160,000 servicemen were put on high alert and began advancing toward the training sites.

According to the Defense Ministry, around 1,000 tanks and armored vehicles, 130 planes and helicopters, and 70 ships are taking part in the war games.

Military commanders in the Far East and Trans-Baikal learned of the drill's details only after it had begun, receiving a secret parcel from Defense Minister Shoygu.

"The main purpose of the activities is to check the readiness of the military units to perform assigned tasks and evaluate of the level of personnel's training and technical preparation as well as the level of equipment of units with arms and military equipment," the defense ministry said in statement.
Image
© RIA Novosti / Andrei Aleksandrov
Su-27 fighter
The statement noted that the drill would require some units to travel more than 3,000 kilometers from their usual deployment sites. Seven hundred flat wagons and 50 railway cars were assigned to perform the transfer.

The ground forces have been given two days to reach their destination. They have been tasked with pitching field camps, masking their positions, and organizing defense strategies upon arrival.

Fireball 2

Massive fireball with long tail blazes over New Zealand

Shooting Star
© Reuters
A shooting star photographed by an astronaut in space.
The sight of a giant shooting star left a North Taranaki man shaking after his early morning run.

Lance Howarth, a mobile mechanic, was out running around the back roads of Lepperton this morning when he saw the star around 5:45am.

''It was that bloody spectacular I had to stop and watch it.''

He said the star had completely lit up the dark moonless sky and surrounding countryside.

''It was early and still dark and the only reason I noticed it was because all of a sudden I could see where I was going and I thought, 'hang on, it's just got light really quickly' and looked up and there it was.''

He described the shooting star as a massive 'fireball' with a long tail and said it seemed to travel from the north east to south west before disappearing into cloud over the ranges.

''It was just frickin' huge. For a while I thought it might crash into the ranges.''

The star almost passed right above his head, and was completely silent, he said.

''It was the best thing I've ever seen, and the most frightening.''

Stunned, his mind ran to the possibilities of what it could mean.

''I did think for a second, ''are we about to be invaded by aliens?'''

The star also left a vapour trail which hung in the sky for at least half an hour, he said.

''I had to keep looking back.''