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Fireball 4

Spectacular Orionid meteor shower 2015 - photos

The peak of the 2015 Orionid meteor shower has passed now. Here are some awesome photos from the Earthsky community!
Orionid Fireball Meteor
© Barry Simmons
Barry Simmons said: "Caught this Orionid fireball on the morning of October 22. It's the BEST meteor shot I've gotten since I started shooting meteors several years ago." Captured at Lake Martin, Alabama. Thank you, Barry, and thanks Nanette Estes Simmons!
© John Ashely
John Ashely took this photo in Makoshika State Park, near Glendive, Montana on October 20, 2015. He told EarthSky: "Nice amount of moonlight to start off last night's portion of the Orionid meteor shower. Only saw about a dozen bright ones but they were spectacular as always. Shot at Makoshika State Park, which derives its name from the Lakota phrase for bad land."


Huge fireball sighted over western Finland

The Ursa Astronomical Association's online observation system lit up with reports of a large bright object streaking across the sky on Friday evening. The apparent fireball stirred consternation in neighbouring Sweden.
© Aki Taavitsainen
This fireball was photographed over Mikkeli in 2013.
Finland's main Astronomical Association, Ursa, says that dozens of people reported spotting a light phenomenon in the western skies just before 8 pm Friday. According to the Swedish newspaper Expressen, the apparent meteor startled some residents in the Stockholm area.

Most of the Finnish sightings were from the Turku region, with others ranging from southernmost Hanko to Merikarvia on the Ostrobothnian coast and Mariehamn in the Åland Islands.

Those reporting observations said the object was seen in the west-south-west sky, close to the horizon.

The streak of light lasted for several seconds, says Jukka-Pekka Teitto, coordinator of Ursa's Artjärvi observation centre in Orimattila.

"This object from space has mostly moved across Sweden," he tells Yle.

Comment: There are in fact observations of meteors or fireballs nearly every single day. For more information, see:

Celestial Intentions: Comets and the Horns of Moses

Comet 2

Recently discovered Halloween asteroid 'may actually be a comet'

Orbit of asteroid 2015 TB145
© NASA/JPL-Caltech
This graphic depicts the orbit of asteroid 2015 TB145 as it flies past Earth on Oct. 31, 2015.
The big asteroid that will zoom past Earth on Halloween may actually be a comet, NASA researchers say.

The roughly 1,300-foot-wide (400 meters) asteroid 2015 TB145, which some astronomers have dubbed "Spooky," will cruise within 300,000 miles (480,000 kilometers) of Earth on Halloween (Oct. 31) — just 1.3 times the average distance between our planet and the moon.

Though 2015 TB145 poses no threat on this pass, the flyby will mark the closest encounter with such a big space rock until August 2027, when the 2,600-foot-wide (800 m) 1999 AN10 comes within 1 Earth-moon distance (about 238,000 miles, or 385,000 km), NASA officials said.

Astronomers plan to beam radio waves at 2015 TB145 on Halloween using a 110-foot-wide (34 m) antenna at NASA's Deep Space Network facility in Goldstone, California, then collect the reflected signals with the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and Puerto Rico's Arecibo Observatory.

Such work should reveal key details about the space rock's size, shape, surface features and other characteristics — including, perhaps, its true identity.

"The asteroid's orbit is very oblong with a high inclination to below the plane of the solar system," Lance Benner, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

Comment: It IS a 'comet' because the only difference between an asteroid and a comet is that the latter is glowing from electrical discharge.


Earth could be hurtling through comet shower that may cause mass extinction

Asteroid 2011 UW-158
© Corbis
Asteroid 2011 UW-158 will pass 1.5 million miles away from Earth.
Earth could be in danger as our galaxy throws out comets that could hurtle towards us and wipe us out, scientists have warned.

Scientists have previously presumed that we are in a relatively safe period for meteor impacts, which are linked with the journey of our sun and its planets, including Earth, through the Milky Way. But some orbits might be more upset than we know, and there is evidence of recent activity, which could mean that we are passing through another meteor shower.

Showers of meteors periodically pass through the area where the Earth is, as gravitational disturbances upset the Oort Cloud, which is a shell of icy objects on the edge of the solar system. They happen on a 26-million year cycle, scientists have said, which coincide with mass extinctions over the last 260-million years.

The most recent shower happened 11 million years ago. But that doesn't mean that the Earth is safe, according to a new study.

Fireball 5

Surprise asteroid to give Earth a Halloween flyby

Asteroid 2015 TB145
© Shutterstock
Asteroid 2015 TB145 (not pictured) will pass our planet on October 31, 2015 at approximately 1.3 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon.
An asteroid designated 2015 TB145 will pass by the Earth at around 1.3 lunar distances (approximately 310,000 miles or about 499,000 km) on October 31 this year. Estimated to be anywhere between 280 to 620 m (918 to 2,034 ft) in diameter and traveling in excess of 126,000 km/h (78,293 mph), the asteroid was discovered less than two weeks ago using the Pan-STARRS array in Hawaii and is the largest object to so closely approach our planet in recent times.

Before you start panicking, NASA says that the object is expected to safely pass by the Earth and is following an eccentric and high-inclination orbit, which may help explain why it was not discovered until October 10 of this year.

Much closer than a "near miss" of 3.1 lunar distances by another recent asteroid, 2004 BL86, 2015 TB145 is of a similar size or greater than that object, but without an accompanying moon. Nevertheless, this now qualifies as the latest known close encounter, after 2004 XP14 in July 2006 at 1.1 lunar distances, and until the asteroid 1999 AN10 swings by Earth at less than one lunar distance sometime in August 2027.

Fireball 2

Bright fireball flies through Kiev, Ukraine skies

© Screenshot via YouTube
A bright fireball in the sky over Kiev October 10, 2015 6:30 AM local time.

Comment: See also: Cosmic Turkey Shoot

Fireball 4

Impact in Uruguay - House hit by meteorite

© Prensa Latina
Uruguayans scientists today revealed the characteristics of a meteorite that fell on a house in the town of San Carlos, a fact that was hidden for nearly a month.

On September 18, the fireball, of an estimated weight of 700 grams, perforated the light roof of the house and destroyed a bed and a television set, according to experts of the Faculty of Science at the University of the Republic.

The reason why the unusual fact was hidden until now is unknown, although the owners of the house and their neighbors reported to researchers at the Department of Astronomy of the Faculty of Sciences.

However, the experts confirmed, that the 'space rock' is indeed a meteorite, since it has slight magnetism and black crust due to the high temperatures generated while entering the atmosphere.

It also presents marks simulating fingerprints, called regmaglypts, on the surface, produced by the molding of hot air on the rock.

Comment: The reason they initially hushed it up is because they feared a public panic.

Fireball 4

Bright green meteor seen flying across Southern California skies

Los Angeles skyline
A lot of people in the Southland reported seeing what looked like a meteor streak across the sky on Tuesday night.

There were tweets from all the way from Ventura to San Diego counties.

The tweets all described the same bright green flash.

CBS Los Angeles also received several calls from those inquiring about the possible meteor.

There was no word yet on exactly what caused this show in the sky, but it certainly had people talking.

Comment: Something wicked this way comes!

Fireball 3

Meteor fireball breaks up over South Dakota

© tumasia, Getty Images/iStockphoto
A handful of South Dakotans reported seeing a meteor in the southeastern part of the state. It has not been confirmed yet if a meteor actually hit.
Jason Rumpca of Beresford was driving to Sioux Falls from Pierre Sunday night when a bright streak lit up the sky.

"I could see glowing orange debris (and) fragments falling from it as it entered the atmosphere," Rumpca said.

He wasn't the only one to catch a glimpse of the meteor-like flash, which prompted social media posts and calls to authorities.

The Charles Mix County Sheriff's Office received a call around 9:15 p.m. from a Lake Andes woman reporting a bright light in the sky, kind of like lightning. A nearby officer verified the sighting, according to the sheriff's office.

"(It) looked like a large ball of fire with pieces falling off as it got closer to the ground," Bobby Mousseau, a police officer in Santee, Neb., said. "It disappeared well before the ground."

The National Weather Service in Sioux Falls heard reports about the flash but was unable to confirm the meteor claim.


Meteor fireball blazes over Australia skies likely 'space junk'

File photo from 2013
The bright light that streaked across the sky above Coffs Harbour early on Saturday morning was probably a piece of space junk crashing back to Earth, astronomy groups say. The mysterious light blazed up at about 2:10am and was witnessed by sky-watchers across the Coffs Coast, with reports also recorded as far south as Newcastle.

Coincidentally, the sighting came as Asteroid 86666 was due to skim past Earth - one of the biggest asteroids to pass our planet in recent times.

But the bright lights were no meteor, according to Roberto Cornale of the Coffs Harbour Astronomical Society, who said the occurrence was probably due to space junk falling to earth. "The cause was likely space debris which was breaking up as it entered the atmosphere," Mr Cornale said. "It's a reasonably common occurrence and not too surprising considering the amount of man-made rubbish that is circling Earth."

Comment: Right, but the amount of man-made debris up there is DWARFED by the amount of space rocks in the near-Earth environment. Thus it is FAR more likely that people saw another meteor fireball.

Read the rest of this article here.

Comment: See also:

Space Junk Rising Exponentially (and No, It's Not Man-Made)