Posts tagged meteor

Posted 1 year ago

Miass River Sunrise 
Image Credit & CopyrightMarat Ahmetvaleev

Explanation: Each day on planet Earth can have a serene beginning at sunrise as the sky gently grows bright over a golden eastern horizon. This sunrise panorama seems to show such a moment on the winter morning of February 15. In the mist, a calm, mirror-like stretch of the Miass River flows through the foreground along a frosty landscape near Chelyabinsk, Russia. But the long cloud wafting through the blue sky above is the evolving persistent train of the Chelyabinsk Meteor. The vapor trail was left by the space rock that exploded over the city only 18 minutes earlier, causing extensive damage and injuring over 1,000 people. A well-documented event, the numerous webcam and dashcam video captures from the region soon contributed to a reconstruction of the meteor’s trajectory and an initial orbit determination.Preliminary findings indicate the parent meteoriod belonged to the Apollo class of Earth crossing asteroids.

Posted 1 year ago

Chelyabinsk Meteor Flash 
Image Credit & CopyrightMarat Ahmetvaleev

Explanation: A meteoroid fell to Earth on February 15, streaking some 20 to 30 kilometers above the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia at 9:20am local time. Initially traveling at about 20 kilometers per second, its explosive deceleration after impact with the lower atmosphere created a flash brighter than the Sun. This picture of the brilliant bolide (and others of its persistent trail) was captured by photographer Marat Ametvaleev, surprised during his morning sunrise session creating panoramic images of the nearby frosty landscape. An estimated 500 kilotons of energy was released by the explosion of the 17 meter wide space rock with a mass of 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Actually expected to occur on average once every 100 years, the magnitude of the Chelyabinsk event is the largest known since the Tunguska impact in 1908.

Posted 1 year ago

The Great Russian Meteor of 2013 
Video Credit & Copyright: RussiaToday

Explanation: What in heaven’s blazes is that? Thousands of people living near the Ural Mountains in Russia saw last Friday morning one of the more spectacular meteors of modern times streak across the sky. Forceful sound waves arrived at the ground minutes later, knocking people over and breaking windows for hundreds of kilometers. The above video is a compilation of several car dashcams and includes real time footage of the meteor rampaging, smoke trails drifting, shadows quickly shifting, and even the meteor’s light reflecting off the back of a bus. The fireball is thought to have been caused by a car-sized chunk of ice and rock crashing into the Earth’s atmosphere. Since the event was captured from so many angles, the meteor’s trajectory has become determined well enough to indicate from where it came and to where any resultant pieces might have landed. It is already certain that this meteor had nothing to do with the several-times larger asteroid 2012 DA14 which passed the Earth from a different direction later the same day. If pieces of the meteor are found, they might tell humanity more about the early Solar System, when the meteor was likely formed.

Posted 1 year ago

Asteroids in the Distance 
Image Credit: R. Evans & K. Stapelfeldt (JPL), WFPC2HSTNASA

Explanation: Rocks from space hit Earth every day. The larger the rock, though, the less often Earth is struck. Many kilograms of space dust pitter to Earth daily. Larger bits appear initially as a bright meteor. Baseball-sized rocks and ice-balls streak through our atmosphere daily, most evaporating quickly to nothing. Significant threats do exist for rocks near 100 meters in diameter, which strike the Earth roughly every 1000 years. An object this size could cause significant tsunamis were it to strike an ocean, potentially devastating even distant shores. A collision with a massive asteroid, over 1 km across, is more rare, occurring typically millions of years apart, but could have truly global consequences. Many asteroids remain undiscovered. In fact, one was discovered in 1998 as the long blue streak in the above archival image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Further, just last year the 50-meter wide asteroid 2012 DA14 was discovered that will pass inside the orbit of Earth’s geosynchronous satellites this coming Friday. A collision with a large asteroid would not affect Earth’s orbit so much as raise dust that would affect Earth’s climate. One likely result is a global extinction of many species of life, possibly dwarfing the ongoing extinction occurring now.

Posted 1 year ago

The Great Meteor Procession of 1913 
Image Credit & Copyright: RASC Archives ; Acknowledgement: Bradley E. Schaefer (LSU)

Explanation: One hundred years ago today the Great Meteor Procession of 1913 occurred, a sky event described by some as “magnificent” and “entrancing” and which left people feeling “spellbound” and “privileged”. Because one had to be in a right location, outside, and under clear skies, only about 1,000 people noted seeing the procession. Lucky sky gazers — particularly those near TorontoCanada — had their eyes drawn to an amazing train of bright meteors streaming across the sky, in groups, over the course of a few minutes. A current leading progenitor hypothesis is that a single large meteor once grazed the Earth’s atmosphere and broke up. When the resulting pieces next encountered the Earth, they came in over south-central Canada, traveled thousands of kilometers as they crossed over the northeastern USA, and eventually fell into the central Atlantic ocean. Pictured above is a digital scan of a halftone hand-tinted image by the artist Gustav Hahn who was fortunate enough to witness the event first hand. Although nothing quite like the Great Meteor Procession of 1913 has been reported since, numerous bright fireballs — themselves pretty spectacular — have since been recorded, some even on video.

Posted 1 year ago

Night of the Long Leonid 
Image Credit & CopyrightStéphane Vetter (Nuits sacrees)

Explanation: A cosmic grain of sand left the long and colorful trail across this all-sky view. Its grazing impact with planet Earth’s atmosphere began at 71 kilometers per second. With the Milky Way stretching from horizon to horizon, the scene was captured on the night of November 17 from the astronomically popular high plateau at Champ du Feu in Alsace, France. Of course, the earthgrazer meteor belongs to this month’s Leonid meteor shower, produced as our fair planet annually sweeps through dust from the tail of periodic Comet Tempel-Tuttle. The shower’s radiant point in the constellation Leo is very close to the eastern horizon, near the start of the trail at the lower left. Bright planet Jupiter is also easy to spot, immersed in a faint band of Zodiacal light just below and right of center. The image is part of a dramatic time-lapse video (vimeo here) that began only 7 minutes before the long leonid crossed the sky.

Posted 1 year ago

Our Story in One Minute 
Video Credit & Copyright: MelodySheepSymphony of Science, John Boswell; Music Credit: Our Story

Explanation: Could you tell the story of human existence in a minute? This thrilling video culls together multiple teasing snippets in an attempt to do just that. And sets it to music. Briefly depicted, from start to finish, is an artistic animation of the Big Bang, a trip across the early universe, theformation of the Earth and Moon, the emergence of multi-celled life and plants, the rise of reptiles and dinosaurs, a devastating meteor strike, the rise ofmammals and humans, and finally the rise of modern civilization. The minute movie ends with a flyover of the modern skyscraper and a human standing atop a snow covered mountain. The above video is the latest from the Symphony of Science project.

Posted 1 year ago

Meteor and Moonbow over Wallaman Falls 
Image Credit & CopyrightThierry Legault

Explanation: Which feature takes your breath away first in this encompassing panorama of land and sky? The competition is strong with a waterfall, meteor, starfield, and even a moonbow all vying for attention. It is interesting to first note, though, what can’t be seen — a rising moon on the other side of the camera. The bright moon not only illuminated this beautiful landscape in QueenslandAustralia last June, but also created the beautiful moonbowseen in front of Wallaman Falls. Just above the ridge in the above image is the horizontal streak of an airplane. Toward the top of the frame is the downward streak of a bright meteor, a small pebble from across our Solar System that lit up as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere. Well behind the meteor are numerous bright stars and nebula seen toward the center of our Galaxy. Finally, far in the background, is the band of our Milky Way Galaxy, running diagonally from the lower left to the upper right in the image but also circling the entire sky.

Posted 2 years ago

Aurora and Fireball Over Norway 
Image Credit & Copyright: Ole C. Salomonsen (Arctic Light Photo)

Explanation: What’s happening behind that mountain? A convergence of variable sky spectacles. One night in mid-September near TromsøNorway, high red aurora could be seen shimmering through lower green aurora in a way that created a striking and somewhat unusual violet glow. Suddenly, though, the sky flashed with the brightest fireball the astrophotographer had ever seen, as a small pebble from outer space violently crashed into the Earth’s atmosphere. The glow illuminated the distant mountain peak known as Otertinden of the Lyngen Alps. The bright meteor, which coincidently disappeared behind the same mountain, was also reflected in the foreground Signalelva River. Although you might consider yourself lucky to see either an aurora or a bright meteor, pictures of them together have been recorded several times previously.

Posted 2 years ago

Saturn: Bright Tethys and Ancient Rings 
Image Credit: Cassini Imaging TeamSSIJPLESANASA

Explanation: How old are Saturn’s rings? No one is quite sure. One possibility is that the rings formed relatively recently in our Solar System’s history, perhaps only about 100 million years ago when a moon-sized object broke up near Saturn. Evidence for a young ring age includes a basic stability analysis for rings, and the fact that the rings are so bright and relatively unaffected by numerous small dark meteor impacts. More recent evidence, however, raises the possibility that some of Saturn’s rings may be billions of years old and so almost as old as Saturn itself. Inspection of images by the Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft indicates that some of Saturn’s ring particles temporarily bunch and collide, effectively recycling ring particles by bringing fresh bright ices to the surface. Seen here, Saturn’s rings were imaged in their true colors by the robotic Cassini in late October. Icy bright Tethys, a moon of Saturn likely brightened by a sandblasting rain of icefrom sister moon Enceladus, is visible in front of the darker rings.