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Tue, 19 Nov 2019
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Lascaux Shaft Scene and cometary impacts

The Lascaux shaft scene is perhaps the most iconic of all European Palaeolithic cave artworks (see below). It shows a bison and human, apparently both dying and normally interpreted as a hunting scene. But we now know, beyond any reasonable doubt, the animal symbols represent constellations, and the Shaft Scene in particular very likely represents a date using precession of the equinoxes.
Lascaux Shaft Scene
© Copy of the Lascaux Shaft Scene, courtesy of Alistair Coombs
Using the zodiacal method and our ancient zodiac, the date 'written' in the scene is between 15,300 and 15,000 BC (see Prehistory Decoded). The similarity of this scene to Pillar 43 at Gobekli Tepe suggests it documents another asteroid or comet strike, this time from the direction of Capricornus (represented by the aurochs). It so happens that the Taurid meteor stream would rave radiated from this direction at this time, suggesting this artwork memorialises another strike from the Taurid system. Given the presence of a giant comet in the inner solar system at this time, such frequent impacts are entirely expected.

Very interestingly, this time span also corresponds to a sudden temperature fluctuation in the North Atlantic region (see Prehistory Decoded), documented by a Greenland ice core, and to a major cultural transition: the Magdalenian to Azillian.

Fireball 2

Bright meteor fireball seen from across western Mediterranean

httExtremely bright meteor

Extremely bright meteor fireball
A very bright meteor appeared in the skies over the western-central Mediterranean yesterday evening, August 16th at around 22:43 CEST. Videos indicate a very significant event.

The fireball was likely significantly brighter than the full Moon, indicating a sizeable incoming meteoroid. It was a long-duration event, lasting over 4 seconds. The meteor reached peak brightness in a series of bright flares, which appear to have resulted in fragmentation of the meteoroid - several fragments are visible towards the end of the luminous path. It appears likely that the incoming meteoroid was comparatively slow and that the event may have resulted in a meteorite fall - into the Mediterranean sea.

Fireball 4

Back in 1944, large daytime meteor turned many heads in eastern Midwest US

Daytime meteor - stock
© ABC News
Stock photo
A visitor from outer space streaked across the sky the morning of Aug. 18, 1944, leading some to fear the Tri-State was being bombarded by rockets from Nazi Germany.

That was just one of the outlandish theories people expressed about the meteor. Some apparently were hesitant to mention what they had seen because they didn't want to spread fear or be ridiculed.

The only Henderson County resident who came forward to The Gleaner the day the meteor fell was Hilary Baskett, who had gone to check his farm on the road to Spottsville. He was not fooled; he was pretty sure it was probably a meteor. But he was "particularly anxious" that others confirm what he had seen.

"To make it doubly interesting the celestial fireworks took place in broad daylight" about 8:15 a.m., The Gleaner reported Aug. 19. "He reported it to be a long, greenish, comet-like blaze which suddenly burst into nothingness as it seemed to near the ground."

Fireball 2

Meteor lights up sky, shakes homes in southwest Missouri

Daytime meteor - stock image
© meteoriteclub.com
Ryan Johnson was heading home to Carthage Sunday afternoon when he saw something in the sky that took his breath away.

"We were heading east near Fredonia (Kansas) when a meteor fell straight down," Johnson recalled. "It looked like a big shooting star. It was long, but it was quick. Wow. I've never seen one in the daylight."

He said the meteor left a brief smoke trail but didn't appear to hit the ground.

"It was fast enough that me and my wife saw it, but our son, who was also sitting in the front seat didn't. It was pretty neat!"

The meteor created a massive shock wave and thunderous boom as it streaked above southwest Missouri. The American Meteor Society received 16 reports of a fireball seen from points in southwest Missouri, northwest Arkansas, southeast Kansas and northwest Arkansas, all just moments after 5 p.m. Sunday.


Fireball 5

Perseids meteor shower to peak Monday night with stunning FIREBALL displays

Perseids meteor shower
© NASA/Ron Garan (@Astro_Ron)
Perseid meteor shower as seen from the International Space Station
It's that time of year again, when the spectacular Perseid meteor shower rains fire across the night sky. The days-long fireball fiesta is expected to peak this evening with an estimated 80 shooting stars per hour at its height.

Widely seen as one of the most entertaining celestial events of the year, the Perseids meteor shower is caused by meteoroids from the debris trail of the Comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle which orbits the sun once every 133 years.

Those in the Northern Hemisphere will be treated to the best views, provided they can escape the light pollution from towns and cities. The moon will frustrate proceedings somewhat as a full moon is due on Thursday, meaning the sky will likely be washed out for the majority of viewers, but fear not, as the Perseids have an ace up their sleeve.

Instead of shooting stars, stargazers can hunt for bright 'fireballs' which can last up to a second rather than merely fractions of a second like their shooting star brethren.

"...[T]he Perseids are rich in bright meteors and fireballs, so it will still be worth going out in the early morning to catch some of nature's fireworks," NASA says.

Fireball 5

Flash of light seen in sky above southwest Victoria, Australia was meteor falling to earth

Fireball over SW Victoria, AUS
© The Standard/Tracey Reid
A meteorite which was seen in the skies above the south-west last night was spotted from as far away as Hamilton and Portland.

Security camera footage of the bright light falling to earth was captured by Tracey Reid's home CCTV in Horsham at 8.27pm, but it was seen and heard by people in Hamilton and Portland.

Astronomical Society of Victoria president Russ Cockman said it was "definitely a fireball meteor" based on its peak brightness and then the way it faded.

"Sometimes small pieces survive passage through the atmosphere and land, to be found by meteorite hunters," Mr Cockman said.


Fireball 2

Meteor fireball seen by several Southeast US coastal residents

Fireball over SE US
© Screenshot via YouTube/ AMS American Meteor Society
On July 27, 2019, the American Meteor Society received 24 reports of a meteor over Georgia, Maryland, North and South Carolina and Virginia. Jeff H. recorded footage of the fireball on his doorbell camera:


Fireball

Bright meteor fireball lights up night sky in Almeria, Spain

Fireball over Almeria, Spain
© Screenshot via YouTube/Meteors
A ball of fire created by a rock from an asteroid lit up the sky over Almeria when it entered the atmosphere at a speed of some 72,000 kilometres per hours over the Mediterranean in front of the provincial coastline.

It was so bright it could be seen up to 400 kilometres away.

The stunning phenomenon just after 4am on Thursday morning was recorded on external cameras in the framework of the SMART project, operated by the Southwestern Europe Meteor Network (SWEMN), from meteor-observing stations at the Calar Alto Observatory in the Filabres mountains, as well as in Sierra Nevada and Seville.


Fireball 3

Bright nighttime flash seen over the Big Island, Hawaii last week was a meteor

Meteor over HI
© ATLAS
A bright flash that illuminated the sky the night of July 24 was caused by a rock, estimated to be between the size of a softball and basketball, entering the Earth's atmosphere.

The University of Hawaii's Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System program on Mauna Loa caught an image of the meteor that briefly lit the sky brighter than a full moon.

According to a UH news release, the ATLAS program, located at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration facility on Mauna Loa, searches for hazardous asteroids, and its all-sky weather-monitoring camera captured an image of the meteor during routine monitoring of the night sky.

"They are scientifically interesting and visually spectacular but pose no threat whatsoever," said ATLAS principal investigator Larry Denneau. "These occur over Hawaii Island maybe once every few months, and around the world there are dozens per night."


Comment: The statement that these meteors 'pose no threat whatsoever' isn't entirely true. See:

Meteor

Seven asteroids are headed for Earth this August

Image of two different asteroids captured by NASA
© NASA/JPL/JHUAPL
Image of two different asteroids captured by NASA.
NASA has detected a total of seven asteroids headed for Earth in August. According to the agency's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS), the biggest asteroid from the group is five times taller than the Statue of Liberty.

The first asteroid that will approach Earth is called 2019 ON. CNEOS noted that the space rock is about 180 feet long and is traveling at a speed of 10,400 miles per hour. It is expected to approach Earth on Aug. 1 at 11:23 am ST. During its approach, it will zip past Earth from a distance of 0.01729 astronomical units or roughly 1.6 million miles away.

Trailing behind 2019 ON is asteroid 2006 QQ23. According to CNEOS' data, this is the biggest asteroid that will approach Earth next month. It has an estimated diameter of 1,870 feet and has a velocity of 10,400 miles per hour.

CNEOS estimated that 2006 QQ23 will fly past Earth on Aug. 10 at 7:23 am ST. It is expected to be about 0.04977 astronomical units or around 4.6 million miles away from the planet during its flyby.

The third asteroid that will visit Earth in August is 454094 2013 BZ45. This asteroid is about 820 feet long and is traveling at 18,250 miles per hour. It will enter Earth's neighborhood on Aug. 12 at 12:14 am ST. Its closest distance to Earth during its visit is expected to be at 0.04352 astronomical units or around 4 million miles away.

Comment: A few years ago NASA created a 'Planetary Defense Coordination Office' with a view to track meteors headed toward Earth, and "redirect" potentially dangerous asteroids as part of a long-term planetary defense goal.

However, asteroid 'redirection' or 'deflection' remains just theoretical. A more accurate way of looking at it is that NASA is funding deflection and redirection of the topic of space threats by 'getting the message out' that 'everything is just fine'.

See also: Expecting an asteroid? Proposed budget for NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office suddenly increased three-fold

As Fireball Numbers Increase it is well worth remembering what can come out of the sky, without any warning at all: