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Rate of meteor fireballs over US so far in 2016 is higher than 2015

AMS fireballs
© American Meteor Society
It's raining fireballs all over the place
While March is usually a slow month for meteor showers as none of the major annual events occur this month, the American Meteor Society has reported six major fireball events since March 1 and NASA says fireballs can increase as much as 30 percent in spring.

A fireball is defined as a meteor that is brighter than the planet Venus and usually has a bright trailing tail.

The reason for the increase in fireball activity is "still unknown," NASA says, but one thought is simply that more space debris litters the Earth's orbit near the spring equinox, which is March 20.

Comment: Sure, more space debris is littering Earth's orbit near the spring equinox now - as in, this is a new phenomenon!

According to the AMS, 2016 has seen an increase in the number of reported fireballs. Since Jan. 1, 910 fireballs have been reported through its online report program, compared to 839 reports received during the same time last year.

Comment: Whoever at NASA made these statements clearly hasn't checked their own data. February and March are typically among the lowest months for fireball numbers.

It's looking like the overall trend will be way up this year, with much more to come in the typically more active second-half of the year.

For spectacular footage of just some of the hundreds of meteor fireballs that lit up the night sky the world over last month, check out our latest instalment of the SOTT Earth Changes Summary video:

SOTT Earth Changes Summary - February 2016: Extreme Weather, Planetary Upheaval, Meteor Fireballs

See also:

NASA space data supports citizens' observations: Meteor fireballs are increasing dramatically

Fireball 2

Camera at Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park captures meteor fireball followed by strange flash of light

Yellowstone plasma discharge
© Youtube/Kat Martin2016 (screen capture)

Watch this awesome fireball disintegrating in the sky of Yellowstone National Park just near Old Faithful Geyser on February 29, 2016. But what is this big flash of light toward the end of the recording? OMG an earthquake light?

This timelaspe video shows a fireball striking over the Yellowstone National Park on February 29, 2016. But at the end of the footage, 25 seconds after the beginning, a bright flash of light cuts off the silent darkness.

Comment: Indeed, much time seems to pass between the streak of light, which could well have been another incoming meteor fireball, and the flash of light. The two events do seem to be related though. A possible plasma discharge event?

Fireball 5

Bright meteor streaks over Black Sea near Ukraine

Meteor over Black Sea
© Youtube/asteroid457
Bright meteor streaks over Black Sea caught by video observation stations in Mayaki and Odessa, Ukraine on 9th March 2016.


Chicxulub crater to be drilled for the first time

Asteroid Impact
© University of California Observatories/Don Davis
An artist's image of an asteroid Impact.
All over the Earth, there is a buried layer of sediment rich in iridium called the Cretaceous Paleogene-Boundary (K-Pg.) This sediment is the global signature of the 10-km-diameter asteroid that killed off the dinosaurs—and about 50% of all other species—66 million years ago. Now, in an effort to understand how life recovered after that event, scientists are going to drill down into the site where the asteroid struck—the Chicxulub Crater off the coast of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

The end-Cretaceous extinction was a global catastrophe, and a lot is already known about it. We've learned a lot about the physical effects of the strike on the impact area from oil and gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. According to data from that drilling, released on February 5th in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, the asteroid that struck Earth displaced approximately 200,000 cubic km (48,000 cubic miles) of sediment. That's enough to fill the largest of the Great Lakes—Lake Superior—17 times.

The Chicxulub impact caused earthquakes and tsunamis that first loosened debris, then swept it from nearby areas like present-day Florida and Texas into the Gulf basin itself. This layer is hundreds of meters thick, and is hundreds of kilometers wide. It covers not only the Gulf of Mexico, but also the Caribbean and the Yucatan Peninsula.

Airplane Paper

Wishful thinking: High-powered laser beam in development to defend earth from approaching space objects

Chelyabinsk, Russia
© Wikipedia
A meteor fireball is seen over Chelyabinsk, Russia, on Feb. 15, 2013. The resulting blast injured more than 1,600 people.
For the past few months, asteroids have been making close approaches to Earth, fuelling fears that these space objects may someday hit our planet and cause countless deaths and massive destruction.

We can, however, ease our fears now because American scientists are already developing a high-powered laser beam to defend Earth from these approaching asteroids.

A team of researchers at the University of California has conducted tests on a weapon called De-Star, which stands for Directed Energy System for Targeting of Asteroids and exploration. The researchers are becoming more and more convinced that this technology may actually work.

"Generally speaking, the technology is available today," said Qicheng Zhang of the University of California, Santa Barbara, one of the authors of the project, as quoted by The Telegraph.

The author nevertheless acknowledged that the team would have to develop a device that will be powerful enough to destroy giant asteroids.

"The main challenge with building a full De-Star is the necessary scale to be effective," Zhang said.

The research team has nevertheless succeeded in testing the De-Star's technique on Earth, by blasting a piece of basalt using laser beams. Basalt is a type of rock from frozen magma that has a similar composition as asteroids.

Comment: With all of the 'newly discovered' asteroids and considering impact records, these lasers could not do much to prevent any cataclysms. For more on the reality of our situation here on planet Earth and the potential for bombardment from space objects, read our Comets and Catastrophe series:


Large meteor fireball caught on dash cam in Missouri

Mountain Home meteor
© Screenshot via KY3.com
KY3 viewer Tim Zikowsky was setting up a dash cam on his way to work, and caught the meteor falling from the sky.


Large, bright meteor fireball seen from Maine to Philadelphia

© NASA/Joel Kowsky
Meteor streaks across the sky during the annual Perseid meteor shower, August 13, 2015.
Keep your eyes on the skies.

Wednesday night, just before 10 p.m., sky-watchers from Maine to Philadelphia — and more than a few in the Lower Hudson Valley — caught a glimpse of a fireball, a meteor, burning up to dust as it entered the Earth's atmosphere.

The American Meteor Society keeps a map of public meteor sightings and, according to Operations Manager Mike Hankey, about 34 reports were received from across the Northeast, including one from Dobbs Ferry and another from Ardsley.

"It seemed to burn out at a low angle above the horizon," said Andrew Ploski, of Nyack. "My 9-year-old son and I were traveling back home last night after a visit with his grandmother in Yonkers. We were traveling north on the Sprain Brook Parkway near the Ardsley Road overpass. There appeared a large, very bright fireball with trail about the brightness and size of a car headlight. It streaked across my field of vision very quickly from my upper right to lower left — east to west."

Ploski was lucky, according to seasoned sky-watchers. "To see a meteor in Westchester is a little bit unusual," said Larry Faltz, president of Westchester Amateur Astronomers. "You have to be looking up at just the right moment."

Faltz explained that, when you see a fireball in the sky, you are not actually seeing a meteor but the ionization of the Earth's atmosphere as the object heads toward the ground. For that fireball effect to be visible, an object only needs to be as big as a grain of sand.

Fireball 2

Meteor fireball explodes over Scotland, emitting a powerful rumble and lighting up the night sky

meteor scotland
A large white light and rumbling "bang" have been reported in the skies over the north east of Scotland, prompting speculation on social media about the cause.

Reports came in of a large white flash in the sky around 7pm on Monday, with Twitter users across the Highlands, Aberdeenshire and Perth saying they had witnessed the phenomenon.

Some speculated the flashes and noises had been caused by a meteor. Others reported feeling buildings shake as a result of the bang.

Police Scotland said they had been unable to ascertain the cause of the noise.

The Met Office said there were no lightning or thunderstorms in the area.

Comet 2

Comets & Asteroids - Summary for February 2016

During the month of February 2016, 3 new comets were discovered, there were 2 recoveries and cometary activity was detected for 2 previously discovered objects (earlier designated as asteroids). New fragments of comet P/2015 Y2 = P/2010 V1 (IKEYA-MURAKAMI) (see previous post) reported. According to a paper available on Arxiv, at least 17 fragments have been identified.

Moreover the binary nature of asteroid (2535) Hämeenlinna and a previously unknown shower of naked-eye meteors, now known as the Volantids, have been reported (see below for more about this news). "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

Feb 14 Discovery of C/2016 C1 (PANSTARRS)
Feb 15 Discovery of P/2016 BA14 (PANSTARRS)*
Feb 19 Discovery of C/2016 C2 (NEOWISE)
Comet P/2016 BA14
© M.Kelley/S.Protopapa/UMD
Comet P/2016 BA14

Fireball 2

Meteor fireball spotted over Luxembourg and France

AMS heat map - Event#732-2016
© Google/AMS
American Meteor Society (AMS) Event#732-2016 - 'heat map' showing location of observers
If you thought you spotted an meteor above Luxembourg on Thursday morning, you probably did.

The French Meteor Observation Network confirmed the phenomenon, which was spotted around 10:30am.

It said that the meteor travelled over the east of France between Reims and Nancy.

Social media was buzzing with comments from people who witnessed the fiery spectacle.

Frederick R said: "I looked out of my office window while I was on a call and clearly saw a fireball with a tail light. What struck me was that it seemed very close to the ground."

The meteor appears to have started its path above Chalons-en-Champagne, heading north-east and disappearing between Marn, Meuse and Brussels.

The phenomenon occurs when astral or comet debris travels at great speed into the earth's atmosphere.

Comment: The American Meteor Society (AMS) has received 250 reports about a meteor fireball seen over Luxembourg, France, Belgium and Germany on 25th February 2016.

Over the past several days other meteor fireballs sightings in the region include: Spain, Portugal, Morocco and southern France.

NASA space data supports citizens' observations that - meteor fireball activity is increasing dramatically!