Baseball-sized meteor blows up spectacularly over Alabama (video)

Desert Gypsy's picture -  9/11/13, Irene Klotz

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — A baseball-sized meteor blasted over the southeastern United States on Monday night, creating a bright streak of light, a sonic boom and a ruckus on Twitter.

The meteor appeared at 9:18 p.m. ET over Alabama, traveling at about 76,000 mph (122,300 kilometers per hour). It exploded 25 miles (40 kilometers) above Woodstock, Ala., located about 30 miles (50 kilometers) from Birmingham.

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Don’t miss the moon and Venus tonight!

Desert Gypsy's picture - 9/8/13, Deborah Byrd

View larger. | Here are the moon and Venus last night - September 7 - as captured by EarthSky Facebook friend Ken Christison in North Carolina.  Thank you, Ken!  On Sunday evening - September 8 - the moon will appear much closer to Venus.  The Americas, in particular, will get a dramatically close view of the pair.

Tonight – Sunday, September 8, 2013 – there will be a very close pairing of the moon and Venus, especially as seen from the Americas. The moon and Venus will be seen from around the world, but, since the moon is moving in orbit around Earth, its distance from Venus on our sky’s dome will vary throughout that day. North and South America, and Europe, are all well placed for viewing this event. These are the brightest nighttime objects in Earth’s sky. They will be beautiful, no matter where you are on the globe.

Start looking for the moon and Venus about 30 minutes after sunset on September 8. Look west. Don’t wait too late because, especially from latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, Venus soon follows the sun below the western horizon.

Stream of Charged Particles Have Shifted Within Milky Way

Desert Gypsy's picture - Nola Taylor Redd, 9/6/13


Shifting cosmic winds suggest that our solar system lives in a surprisingly complex and dynamic part of the Milky Way galaxy, a new study reports.

Scientists examining four decades' worth of data have discovered that the interstellar gas breezing through the solar system has shifted in direction by 6 degrees, a finding that could affect how we view not only the entire galaxy but the sun itself.

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Bizarre Alignment Observed In Butterfly-Shaped Nebulae

Desert Gypsy's picture - 9/4/13

Image Caption: This mosaic shows a selection of stunning images of bipolar planetary nebulae taken by Hubble. (Upper row from left) NGC 6302, NGC 6881, NGC 5189. (Lower row from left) M2-9, Hen 3-1475, Hubble 5. Credit: ESA/NASA/Hubble Space Telescope

A planetary nebula occurs in the final stages of a star’s life when its outer layers begin to stretch out into the surrounding space. Such nebulae can create beautiful objects in the night sky, with some stretching out into an hourglass or butterfly shape. The latest research, published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, has found that butterfly-shaped nebulae tend to have a bizarre alignment.

“The alignment we’re seeing for these bipolar nebulae indicates something bizarre about star systems within the central bulge,” explains Rees. “For them to line up in the way we see, the star systems that formed these nebulae would have to be rotating perpendicular to the interstellar clouds from which they formed, which is very strange.”

Cassini Sees Saturn Storm's Explosive Power

Desert Gypsy's picture

Nasa,gov - 9/3/13

Two Looks at the Turbulent Saturn Storm

A monster storm that erupted on Saturn in late 2010 - as large as any storm ever observed on the ringed planet -- has already impressed researchers with its intensity and long-lived turbulence. A new paper in the journal Icarus reveals another facet of the storm's explosive power: its ability to churn up water ice from great depths. This finding, derived from near-infrared measurements by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, is the first detection at Saturn of water ice. The water originates from deep in Saturn's atmosphere.

"The new finding from Cassini shows that Saturn can dredge up material from more than 100 miles [160 kilometers]," said Kevin Baines, a co-author of the paper who works at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "It demonstrates in a very real sense that typically demure-looking Saturn can be just as explosive or even more so than typically stormy Jupiter." Water ice, which originates from deep in the atmosphere of gas giants, doesn't appear to be lofted as high at Jupiter.

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Moon, Jupiter, Mars and star cluster before dawn September 2

Desert Gypsy's picture, 9/1/13

If you’re up at morning dawn, the two heavenly bodies that you’re most likely to see are the waning crescent moon and the planet Jupiter. After all, the moon and Jupiter rank as the brightest and second-brightest celestial objects, respectively, to light up the September 2013 morning sky.

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Aurigid meteor shower peaks before dawn September 1

Desert Gypsy's picture, 8/31/13, Deborah Byrd

Meteors are also called shooting stars.  But meteors in annual showers, like the Aurigids, are bits of debris left  behind in the orbits of comets.  Image via NASA.

Meteors are also called shooting stars. But meteors in annual showers, like the Aurigids, are bits of debris left behind in the orbits of comets. Image via NASA.

The Aurigid meteor shower will be worth watching in 2013, particularly on the morning of September 1. The Aurigids should already be flying, with Earth having entered the meteor stream today (August 31), but the peak should be Sunday morning September 1, and North America appears to be well placed for the peak. From a rural site in North America, you might expect to see about 14-20 meteors in the last hour before dawn on Sunday, September 1. You might even see some meteors this evening, perhaps 5 an hour, according to the AMS. If you live elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, try watching in the hour before dawn September 1, but expect to see fewer meteors per hour.

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50 kg meteor explodes and illuminates sky over southeastern USA

Desert Gypsy's picture

The Watchers-8/30/13, Adonai


A meteor with estimated mass of over 50 kg exploded over Tennessee, USA, around 07:27 UTC on August 28, 2013 (02:27 local time). Head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, Bill Cook, said the fireball reached a peak magnitude of -13. It was brighter than a full moon, and casted shadows on the ground. This indicated that the meteor had a mass of over 50 kg (110 lbs) and was about 40 cm (16 inches) in diameter.

All 6 NASA's all sky cameras in the southeast picked up a very bright fireball that may have produced meteorites. The cameras were completely saturated, necessitating a manual solution.

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