Monday, November 24, 2008

Major Canadian bolide on Nov. 20 documented by several videos!

A dazzling meteor on the evening of Nov. 20 was "widely seen over a wide portion of the Canadian prairies, resulting not only in hundreds of eye-witness reports [like these] but some wonderful videos" like this one (also here), this and this one - and one shows that "the object broke into pieces. Some may have survived the explosion and have fallen to Earth where, with luck, searchers will find them as charred, blackened rocks sitting on the snow in a farmer’s field. The search is now on, first in narrowing down the fall area, followed by the field work, interviewing eyewitnesses, finding those who saw it fly overhead, and those who may have heard it. Then the real work begins — tramping winter fields looking for dark rocks that don’t belong."

According to early analysis, "the object that entered the atmosphere had a mass of from 1 to 10 tonnes, likely as big as a chair to a desk in size. It fragmented in the large explosion everyone witnessed but reports suggest hundreds of meteorites could be on the ground, in an area near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border north of Provost and Macklin (110°W 52.6°N). At peak brightness, the fireball reached about magnitude -20 — that's 600 times brighter than the Full Moon." Such a thing leaves ample trails on the web: Spaceget and SpaceWeather, e.g., link to the videos, Astroengine has stills, TransientSky, ScienceBlogs, BadAstronomy, UniverseToday, NASA Watch and ROG report as do CBC, MSNBC and SPIEGEL.

The Leonids of 2008 did produce one major peak with a ZHR approaching 100 but not two as was also predicted for these meteors (always good for a headline). Here and here are some images, here, here and here reports. • Many comets on Nov. 22, 17P/Holmes on Nov. 23 and Nov. 6 and 68P/Klemola at Messier 17. • Various links about a stellar occultation by TNO Varuna on Dec. 7, a very rare event: Other than by Pluto no stellar occultation has ever been recorded by a Kuiper Belt Object.

The full Moon at/in front of Messier 45 on Nov. 13, also seen here and here and here - and its waning crescent on Nov. 23. Venus and Jupiter are approaching each other, one week before a tight conjunction also involving the Moon. Views from Nov. 23 (more), Nov. 20 and Nov. 17, plus the view from down under and daily previews. • Rhea's shadow on Saturn. • The aurora from a plane. • A collection of corona images.

And finally some good news out of the bad: The San Fernando Observatory - which this blogger visited last year - survived the big fire of Sylmar (at the Northern periphery of Los Angeles). "The observatory is fine, although we did have fire in the surrounding shrubbery," CSUN's Angie Cookson told this blog on Nov. 17: "None of the buildings sustained damage and we just have to deal with cleaning up ash and soot. The fires have been (and continue to be) just devastating. Driving from home this morning and looking at the burned areas, I was amazed that more homes weren't lost. The firemen truly do an incredible job."

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