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Fireball 5

Bright, exploding fireball streaks across the sky over Northeast U.S.

© NASA/Bill Cooke via AMS
An image of the fireball from one of NASA’s fireball monitoring cameras. Mike Hankey from the American Meteor Society has annotated the image to point out the location of the fireball.
A bright fireball lit up the Northeast sky on Wednesday night as it streaked over southern Canada and upstate New York.

The fireball occurred at around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The American Meteor Society estimates that the fireball began over Ontario County in northwest New York and traveled west-northwest over Canada before terminating southwest of Toronto.

"Many witnesses described an increasing intensity before it terminated," writes Mike Hankey of the American Meteor Society, "a common trait of bolide meteors." A bolide is a particularly bright meteor that explodes in a flash near the end of it's path.


Fireball 4

Two Near Earth Asteroids to whiz pass Earth this week

© The Virtual Telescope Project
The live webcast starts tonite!
It's a dangerous universe out there, for a budding young space-faring species.

Killer comets, planet sterilizing gamma ray bursts, and death rocks from above are all potential hazards that an adolescent civilization has to watch out for.

This week offers two close shaves, as newly discovered Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) 2014 WC201 and 2014 WX202 pass by the Earth-Moon system.

The passage of 2014 WC201 is coming right up tonight, as the 27-metre space rock passes about 570,000 kilometres from the Earth. That's 1.4 times farther than the distance from the Earth to the Moon.


Mysterious explosions and loud bangs heard all over UK: Listen to the recording and learn to recognize an overhead explosion

Last night, Britons from Aberdeen to Devon were left baffled by a series of mysterious explosions which shook windows and disturbed sleeping children.

Hundreds of Twitter users reported the sounds between around 9pm and 11pm last night, with many describing the noise as sounding like 'distant fireworks'.

But despite suggestions of RAF jets, meteors and aliens flooding the social media site today, no one has been able to explain what was heard. Even the MoD has said it is stumped.

Now a recording of the 'loud bangs', taken by a woman as she sat at home in Croydon, south London, might shed light on what is really behind the unexplained noise.

Some suggested that unusual weather conditions might be the source, but the Met Office today dismissed the claims.

Others on Twitter suggested that it could be traced back to controlled explosions or military exercises. Meanwhile, conspiracy theorists took to social media to claim that aliens were to blame.

Claudia Angiletta said that she was watching TV at home when the unexplained sounds started.

She told MailOnline: 'I was just at home watching TV when I couldn't hear the program due to the loud noises. It was very distracting as it went on for ages.

Comment: It's true that there can be several possible explanation to the mysterious booms, but considering the evidence and constantly increasing number of meteorite sightings, we dare to speculate that this case has something to do with it as well.


Hundreds report mystery 'explosion' in Manchester

A mysterious explosion heard across parts of Manchester and Salford remains unexplained.

Hundreds of people took to social media to describe hearing a "loud bang" at about 22:30 GMT on Monday.

Firefighters were called after a report in the Weaste area of Salford but later admitted they could find no evidence of a fire, or any other disturbance.

Shinydan Howell posted on Twitter: "Everyone in Manchester ok? Loud bang in Salford could be anything."

Comment: Yet another overhead explosion to add to the list. People really should start paying attention and learn how to read the signs. Because the reality doesn't paint a pretty picture.

Fireball 4

Hundreds in Ireland see fireball 'brighter than the full moon'

Astronomy Ireland says its received hundreds of sighting reports since Tuesday night - when what was described as a 'giant fireball' was seen blazing across Ireland's skies.

From Cork and Dublin to Belfast and Donegal - the heavenly object was spotted pretty much everywhere.

TheJournal.ie also had quite a few reports on the subject - as did BBC Northern Ireland and a raft of other media outlets.

"Clearly seen falling right to left over the sea towards Drogheda from Balbriggan at around 5.40pm, like a falling star for about 3-4 seconds before it burned out," was how Dubliner Jim Whelan described it.

"My son saw it this evening. He thought it might have been a giant shooting star, a UFO, or molten lava (he's 9 which I think explains the variety of possibilities ;-). He's hugely excited now to think it may have been part of an asteroid."

Comment: This is just one of several that have been spotted this week. Still unexplained, is the 'event' that turned night into day in Urals, Russia.

Fireball 3

Meteor with flame-like tail spotted over Atlanta, GA

leonid meteor
© en.wikipedia.org
Leonid meteor
More than a dozen reports were received Thursday evening by 11Alive News and by the American Meteor Society of a fireball over parts of metro Atlanta.

The reports began coming at about 9:30 p.m., with reports from the city of Atlanta, Alpharetta, Dalton, Johns Creek, Austell, Senoia, Lagrange, Loganville, Powder Springs, Villa Rica, and as far away as Macon.

Most of the reports described a flame-like tail on the meteor. No sound was heard from those reporting what they saw.

Astronomically, the Leonid meteor shower generally occurs every year between the 5th and the 30th of November, with a peak of November 15 to November 20. Meteors associated with this shower are generally tied to the passage of Comet Temple-Tuttle.


A bird, a plane or a meteor? 'Unidentified flying object' spotted off Charlottetown

© Blanche Ward
On November 17, Blanche Ward of Charlottetown sighted an unidentified object flying slowly across the sky. She initially spotted two trails of smoke before identifying a small red dot with her camera.
When Blanche Ward of Charlottetown stepped outside her door on Monday afternoon, she spotted something unusual: there were two small trails of smoke slowly flying high across the sky.

Ward immediately rushed back into her house and grabbed her camera. When she zoomed in and took her shot, she saw a small red dot with the two lines of smoke trailing behind.

She says the object remained in the sky for one or two minutes before dropping below the horizon and out of view.

Fireball 3

Enormous overhead meteor explosion? Strange glow in the sky turns night into day in the Urals, Russia

© Vyacheslav Bulatov
A local observatory indicated nothing fell from the sky on the day of the flash.

Emergency services refuse to comment cause of extraordinary blast in the dark sky.

A huge flash lit up the early evening darkness, as shown by images taken from a dashcam on a road close to Yekaterinburg. The sky suddenly turns orange-red at 17.39 local time (though the dashcam records it as 18.39). For the next 11 seconds an orange light with yellow and white in the middle engulfs the entire sky.

'For a few moments night turned into dazzling day, then everything went dark again,' said one witness.

The explosion came on 14 November but images only appeared of it today; strangely no sound was picked up.

Theories for the explosion included a missile or an object from space. Yet it did not have the same shape or pattern as the Chelyabinsk meteorite which exploded over the Urals in February 2013.

Comment: This was probably another massive meteor fireball event. We suspect that a distinct fragmentation trail cannot be seen because there was very dense cloud coverage close to the ground, while the incoming object would have been very high up. The intense glow could be due to the same effects we saw over Recife, Brazil last month.

These seem to be plasma effects as incoming bodies interact with different charge layers of the atmosphere. Here's what NASA reported about Comet Siding-Spring's close brush with Mars last month:
"Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph instrument detected major changes as dust from the comet slammed into atoms and molecules in the upper atmosphere, high-energy collisions that caused the thin air to glow."
With this, the Recife event, and the 'Pacific lights' event the month before that, it looks like our atmosphere has reached a certain threshold of comet dust saturation.

Perhaps ancients' reports of 'the sky being on fire' are more literal than previously assumed?

Let the fireworks commence!


NASA map downplays sharp rise in meteor fireball impacts over last 20 years

NASA's Near Earth Object (NEO) Program published a diagram a few days ago, showing 556 mapped comet/asteroid fragment impacts on Earth over the last 20 years (see above). NASA says it's based on data gathered from 1994-2013 on small asteroids impacting Earth's atmosphere to create 'fireballs', adding that "the sizes of yellow dots (daytime impacts) and blue dots (nighttime impacts) are proportional to the optical radiated energy of impacts measured in billions of Joules (GJ) of energy, and show the location of impacts from objects about 1 meter (3 feet) to almost 20 meters (60 feet) in size."

Note the random distribution of impacts around the globe. But note also what the map and accompanying NASA report do not indicate: the year-on-year distribution of those impact events over that 20-year period. This omission enables them to give the following misleading subheading to their report:
It happens all the time: small asteroids impact Earth's atmosphere
By not providing a year-on-year breakdown of the impacts, and by including their rather banal headline, NASA leaves us to assume that these events were more or less evenly distributed over those 20 years - on average, 27 fireball events of note in 2013 (556 total events/20 years). But we have serious doubts about this.

We know from the American Meteor Society that there were nearly 3,500 observed events in 2013 alone - and just in the US. Check out the data for yourself: browse through the AMS Events database. Select for events in 2013 with both 'sound' and 'fragmentation' reported. Note how many of last year's 184 US fireball events, that were large enough to be both seen breaking up and heard exploding, were witnessed from multiple US states. Now go back to the NASA world fireball map from 1994-2013. Assuming its random global distribution is accurate, we can try a little exercise in extrapolation to get a figure for significant fireball events globally in 2013.

Fireball 2

Meteor sighted passing over Georgia, Southeast U.S.

SouthEast meteor
© American Meteor Society
The American Meteor Society received at least 10 reports of a meteor over the Southeast on Tuesday, November 11, 2014.
At least five reports of a meteor going overhead were received from Georgia Tuesday evening - and up to 10 reports came from neighboring states according to the American Meteor Society. The reports came from Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia between 6:45 and 7 p.m. Tuesday. According to the reports, the fireball appeared blue to white to orange in color as it passed overhead.

The meteor did not make a sound as it passed according to all of the reports received. The Georgia reports came from Blackshear, Ranger, Cumming, Morven and along Interstate 20 east of Atlanta. Other reports came from Greenville and Pawleys Island in South Carolina, from Garner, NC and Moneta, VA.

Two reported meteors were seen over Georgia's skies last week -- one on Monday and another on Thursday. Scientists say that meteors pass through the atmosphere with regularity. Two major observatories in north Georgia -- one at North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega and a second one at the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville -- are part of a network of six cameras across the Southeast and 15 such observatories across the nation that watch the skies for fireballs.