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Fireball 5

The long history of comet phobia

he Book of Miracles, c. 1550
© Wikimedia Commons
The Book of Miracles, c. 1550.
Nowadays, the appearance of a comet, like the recently soaring NEOWISE, is likely to inspire wonder and excitement. But for much of human history, a comet was more likely to inspire blood-curdling fear.

"Almost always in classical times comets were regarded as portents, generally as warnings of dire events," writes historian Duane Koenig. (They were also sometimes "harbingers of happy things," like the birth of heroes, prophets, or kings.)

Ancient records show that thousands of years ago, "Persians and Koreans viewed comets as of evil nature and often [announced] war with the country in whose direction the tail pointed," writes Koenig. Over in Rome, comets were an object of fear and worship. Historian Geraldine Herbert-Brown finds that Pliny the Elder paid "particular attention to comets, and the terror they had caused humans in the course of history." According to Pliny, a comet would appear at "crucial intervals" starting in 49 BCE, "glaring terribly when Nero succeeded Claudius, and then continuously throughout Nero's principáte."

Comets — also called "bearded stars" — were consistently seen as bad news for rulers. Around 70 CE, the Roman emperor Vespasian was cautioned about a comet. "He contended the bearded star did not concern him because he was bald. It threatened his neighbor, the king of the Parthians, who was hairy," writes Koenig.

Fireball

Meteor fireball spotted in background of news bulletin in Sydney

Meteor on News Broadcast
© Channel 7
Meteor spotted in background of Seven news in Sydney.
Channel 7 viewers in Sydney were stunned last night when a meteor shot into the Earth's atmosphere during the news.

Mark Ferguson was presenting the 6pm bulletin when a meteor was visible in the live feed of Sydney's skyline in the background.

Some eagle-eyed viewers noticed the object and posted about it on a Facebook group dedicated to meteor sightings.

Ferguson called into Sunrise this morning and spoke about the incident, telling the breakfast show hosts: "I didn't know too much at the exact time but within a few seconds of throwing to the commercial, Jess our cameraman quickly said, 'Mate, something has just flown behind you. I reckon it's a meteor.'

"We replayed it and had a good look and we couldn't believe it; what a shock!" Ferguson said.

Fireball 2

Meteor fireball over the south of Spain on September 3

FIREBALL
This beautiful meteor overflew the south of Spain on 2020 September 3 at about 2:35 local time (equivalent to 0:35 universal time). It was generated by a rock (a meteoroid) from an asteroid that hit the atmosphere at around 97,000 km/h. It began at an altitude of about 80 km over the Gulf of Cadiz (Atlantic Ocean), and ended at a height of around 44 km over the sea level.

The event was recorded in the framework of the SMART project, which is being conducted by the Southwestern Europe Meteor Network (SWEMN). The event was spotted from the meteor-observing stations located at Sevilla, La Sagra (Granada), La Hita (Toledo), and Calar Alto.


Fireball 2

Pennies from heaven: Meteorites worth thousands of dollars rain upon Brazilian town

Meteorites in Brazil
© Charles Araujo
Locals said hundreds of pieces of the 4.6billion-year-old rock fell 'like rain' from the sky
The largest chunk of the meteorite, weighing about 40 kilograms, is reportedly worth around $26,000.

Residents of a remote town in northeastern Brazil called Santa Filomena recently received an unexpected bonanza when chunks of a meteorite believed to be 4.6 billion-year-old started falling "like rain" from the sky on 19 August, the Daily Mail reports.

According to the newspaper, the meteorite was a "rare chondrite which dates back to the origins of the Solar System", and whose fragments turned out to be quite valuable, with the biggest chunk, weighing about 40 kilograms, being worth over £20,000 ($26,000) - "the same as 10 years' worth of the average salary in the area".

"The price is getting close to 40 reals (£5.50) per gramme, and it's getting higher. Only a few days ago it was half that", said Edimar da Costa Rodrigues, a 20-year old student who discovered one of the fragments. "Ninety percent of the town's population are farmers. There aren't many shops, nothing that generates jobs. It's a humble place, with people on a low wage. Most people think it's a really good thing. Lots of people have found a rock, and it has come at a time when many really need some money to pay the bills".

Comment: Other reported meteor impacts so far this year include:


Meteor

Mystery as massive boom shakes homes across Merseyside, UK

Loud boom in Merseyside, UK
© Liverpool Echo/Jason Roberts
Homes across Kirkby and beyond reportedly had "lights flicker" and "windows rattle" after a massive bang woke residents up.

Dozens of people said they heard what sounded like an "explosion" in the early hours of this morning, around 1am.

Kirkby resident Lesley Parr told the Echo her social media was full of people talking about the "total mystery", with many left scratching their heads as to what the sound was.

She said: "It was heard all over Kirkby, Fazakerley, Huyton, Stockbridge Village, Knowsley Village etc.

"I'm off Ribblers Lane, we saw flashing blue lights in the close next to us so my nosy boys took a walk over with the dog.

Fireball 2

Stunning meteor fireball seen in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan

Fireball exploding over Iowa
© Dan B.
Residents of Missouri, Illinois, Iowa and Michigan all reported seeing a bright fireball blasting through the sky on August 19. Stunned onlookers spotted the astronomical phenomenon, and headed in their droves to the website of the International Meteor Organisation (IMO) to report their sightings.

Chris said: "It came straight down on a vertical trajectory and slowed down as it approached the tops of the tree line, very bright green with bright white sparks coming off it. Amazing sighting!

Timothy added: "It was so bright that we could see it from inside the house with all the lights on.

"It lasted long enough to alert another person to turn around and look at it and they saw it for several seconds."


Comment: See also: NASA chief: Risk of asteroid impact not being taken seriously, international cooperation needed to meet cosmic threat


Fireball

Three near fly-by asteroids expected this week, only spotted this month - NASA

asteroids earth
© GETTY IMAGES / CHRISTOPH BURGSTEDT / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Illustration
The near-constant bombardment of space rocks buzzing our planet continues, with planetary defenses alerted to a trio of asteroids measuring over 25 meters in diameter en route to Earth's backyard this week.

To kick things off on Monday, not one but two space rocks over 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter will fly past, both of which were detected just this month, leaving little time and space for error in calculating their trajectories.

Asteroid 2020 PP3, 34 meters wide, will pass us by at a distance of 6.1 million kilometers (3.7 million miles), having only been spotted 13 days ago. It will be followed shortly afterwards by 2020 PJ6, 26 meters wide, at a distance of 5.3 million kilometers, which was spotted four days later on August 15.

Comment: See also: Meteorites, Asteroids, and Comets: Damages, Disasters, Injuries, Deaths, and Very Close Calls


Fireball 5

Meteor fireball lights up night sky over Greece

Meteor fireball stock
© Navicore/Wikimedia Commons
A meteor burned up on the night skies over Greece on Tuesday evening, creating a spectacular fireball clearly visible in many parts of the country.

The scene was captured on video by a camera belonging to kopaida.gr in Livadia, central Greece. Many social media users hurried to report that they also got a glimpse of the impressive phenomenon.


Meteors are from small space debris, frequently only millimeters in size. Most meteoroids that enter the Earth's atmosphere are so small that they vaporize completely and never reach the planet's surface. When they burn up during their descent, they create a beautiful trail of light known as a meteor, sometimes called a shooting star.

Fireball 4

Amateur skywatcher spots 'huge green' meteor fireball over Union, Oregon

Fireball - stock image

Stock image
Crystal McClurg, an amateur astronomer since she was a child, knows what to expect when she looks up at the night sky.

At 12:50 a.m. Sunday, however, she saw the unexpected.

McClurg, looking west from her home in Union, observed an object racing across the night sky. It then appeared to crash into a mountain west of La Grande.

"It was a huge green fireball," McClurg said. "Then it turned yellow and broke apart into four or five pieces."

The Union resident, who was alone, then let her emotions get the best of her.

Attention

Loud home-rattling boom heard across west Cornwall, UK

Cornwall, UK
© Cornwall Live
A loud explosion has been reported by hundreds of people across Cornwall today.

The bang, which "sounded like a bomb", according to locals, was heard at about 9.30am in west Cornwall between the Camborne and Helston areas.

Residents said they felt vibrations that "rattled through" their homes.

Dozens of people suggested it could have been a sonic boom by a Hawk jet from RNAS Culdrose.