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Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama

Anonymous Coward
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11/29/2006 08:08 AM
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Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
Light in sky probably space junk or meteor

By Eric Fleischauer and Seth Burkett
news@decaturdaily.com· 353-4612

LACON — At 5:28 p.m. Tuesday, Morgan County 911 lines began ringing. A brilliant lime-green light had appeared, callers said, possibly a downed aircraft.

Callers to The Daily described the same thing, some saying they saw an object falling from the sky and breaking into pieces before the light appeared.

No airplanes crashed, and astronomers said the event was probably a "bolide," a random meteor that could have been natural or man-made.

Morgan County Sheriff Chief Deputy Mike Corley said the reports came from southern Morgan County and Cullman County. Firefighters and various police agencies searched the area but found no crash site.

"(We found) no fires, no explosions or anything to explain it," said Corley. "It was like a falling star."

Decatur astronomer Loren Ball said the bolide likely came from "space junk." He said the North American Aerospace Defense Command is tracking 9,000 pieces of man-made junk including nuts, bolts, gloves and pieces of expired satellites that, because of friction with the upper atmosphere, are gradually approaching Earth.

The lime-green color, Ball said, is consistent with the color that would come from burning aluminum as it entered Earth's atmosphere.

The fact that the object broke into pieces is no surprise, whether the object was natural or man-made. Moving at 10 to 40 miles per second, it would generate tremendous energy, much of it in the form of light. He said a bolide the size of a golf ball generates enough light to trigger calls to the media.

"Something like this happens every day, but there are not always people around to see it," Ball said.

Space junk

According to some studies, there are 4 million pounds of space junk — as many as 110,000 objects larger than 1 centimeter — in low-Earth orbit. They provide a brilliant display on Earth, but can be hazardous to astronauts.

A small speck of paint from a satellite shooting around the Earth once dug a quarter-inch pit in a space shuttle window.

Earth's atmosphere extends 250 miles above its surface, Ball said, a fact that forces the International Space Station and the Hubble Space Telescope to periodically correct their orbit so they won't be pulled into a downward spiral.

Gene Byrd, professor of astronomy at The University of Alabama, said the sightings were too late to be explained by a meteor shower that took place last week.

Bolide explanation

He said the composition of the bolide could explain its greenish color, but the human eye might also explain it. The eye has greater sensitivity to blue and green colors, he said.

Byrd's guess was that it was "a large, sporadic meteor." He said such meteors occasionally emit a sonic boom, and usually are rock fragments from the asteroid belt.

In the 1950s, he said, a small meteor actually struck a woman in Sylacauga, sending her to the hospital with a severe bruise. Astronomers believe a 10-mile-wide meteor that hit Mexico caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, Byrd said.

Corley said he saw the event from his home.

"It did have an unusual color. It had a bright, glowing, lime-green color to it," Corley said.

The Alabama sightings came a day after a similar green fireball was seen in the skies above Australia.

Meteorologists there identified the object as a meteor, likely produced as the Earth passed through the tail of the comet Tempel-Tuttle according to news reports.

Last week, a Russian cosmonaut hit a golf ball into orbit from the International Space Station as part of a publicity campaign to raise money for the Russian space program.

The golf ball joined the other pieces of space junk that will eventually burn up in the upper atmosphere.

[link to www.decaturdaily.com]
Anonymous Coward (OP)
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11/29/2006 08:13 AM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
2 nd sighting in consecutive nights in australia now being confirmed as meteorites

'UFO' sightings most likely meteors PRINT FRIENDLY EMAIL STORY
The World Today - Wednesday, 29 November , 2006 12:46:00
Reporter: Nance Haxton
ELEANOR HALL: Over the last two days, police and news organisations in South Australia and western Victoria have been inundated with reports of mysterious lights in the night sky.

Some have described a fireball shooting across the horizon just before sunset, while callers in north-west Victoria have reported seeing a bright object flying across the sky.

The Astronomical Society of South Australia's Dr Tony Beresford has told Nance Haxton that while the sightings have sparked some UFO speculation, the cosmic mystery is most likely a meteor.

TONY BERESFORD: It was just one particular meteor which was widely observed. It was observed from around the metropolitan area to, I suspect, over in the border regions of Victoria and New South Wales.

NANCE HAXTON: And how do we know that it was a meteor?

TONY BERESFORD: Well, it was a short time, it was moving quite fast, faster than a satellite would've and there were no satellites due to come in.

NANCE HAXTON: And are there any reports of what happened to that meteor? I mean, does it burn up before landing or…

TONY BERESFORD: This one almost certainly did. It's… in fact, I have several reports which indicated at the end it more or less exploded.

NANCE HAXTON: How common is it for meteors such as this to be seen so brightly and be reported by people?

TONY BERESFORD: Well, about once a year or so, maybe twice.

NANCE HAXTON: So meteors are really falling from the sky all the time, it's just sometimes we see them?

TONY BERESFORD: Some, yes. We're in a cosmic shooting gallery. There are several moderately recent craters in the Australian continent, but the most recent appreciable-sized one is of course the very famous meteor crater in Arizona, only about 50,000 years ago.

NANCE HAXTON: 50,000 years ago? So hopefully our number's not coming up for a while yet?

TONY BERESFORD: Well, you don't… you never know. I'm one of these people who think we should do proper surveys for an asteroid that could possibly impact the earth, because we… if we did find one then we could probably divert it enough. You don't have to change its orbit very much.

The Australian Government doesn't believe in it, but the Americans are spending money employing two people up at Siding Spring looking for it.

NANCE HAXTON: You think that the risk of an asteroid hitting earth is enough that Australia should really look at taking more note of the risk?

TONY BERESFORD: Yes, yes they should. The risk is very small, but the number... the possible global consequences are enormous.

ELEANOR HALL: That's the Astronomical Society of South Australia's Dr Tony Beresford speaking to Nance Haxton.
Anonymous Coward
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11/29/2006 09:01 AM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
Riddle of UFO 'invasion'

"A UFO scare was sparked after the police were flooded with calls about a fleet of 'spaceships' invading the coast of Britain.

Thousands of people spotted the bright orange orbs off the Channel coast at Brighton.

Police and air traffic control centres were inundated by reports of the strange spectacle, the Daily Express reported.

Shocked witness James Gordon-Johnson said: "I hadn't been drinking. I was sceptical about UFOs before but this has changed my mind.

"I saw this big orange light in the sky. Then another one appeared in mid-air. Then another. And another."

Experts are baffled by the phenomenon, but believe it could be linked to a meteor shower.

The Hermstmonceux Observatory in East Sussex said a cloud of comet dust had produced a meteor shower which peaked with a display of shooting stars.

And an earlier Ministry of Defence study into UFOs concluded that many sightings could be "glowing clouds of gas created by electricity charges."

[link to www.thisislondon.co.uk]
Anonymous Coward
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11/29/2006 10:11 AM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
I reported a fireball looking south from Toronto, last Thursday night.
Anonymous Coward
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11/29/2006 10:26 AM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
I have never in my life seen a sighting. I would love to. I need to spend more time outside at night.
User ID: 160756
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11/29/2006 10:35 AM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
i see meteors all the freakin time down here in athens, ga.

the ones i've seen lit up the sky, you could see clouds and the smoke trail behind the meteor, it was very very bright like when you burn magnesium. it does not last long, 1-2 seconds. some seem to go on longer though.

i always thought this was a common occurence since our atmosphere is bombarded by things all the time.

am i wrong? something stranger going on here?
User ID: 164205
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11/30/2006 06:24 PM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
At Swarthmore College, PA, on 30 November at 1.00am we witnessed an enormous lime green-blue flash illuminating the entire sky that lasted a couple of seconds. Some students also heard a short buzzing sound.
Anonymous Coward
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11/30/2006 11:59 PM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
Meteor Shower Could Be Sign of Comet That Could Come Dangerously Close to Earth

Finnish Star-Gazer Discovers Meteor Shower - Tail of New Comet Pinpointed

December 1, 2006
Helsingin Sanomat - Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland

Jarmo Moilanen, a municipal computer expert and amateur astronomer in the Finnish community of Vaala, has detected a new shower of meteors in the tale of a hitherto unknown comet.

Moilanen’s two monitoring cameras that he keeps pointed at the sky and linked to his computer, registered an unexpected meteor shower already in October last year.

The discovery was published in the Finnish astronomy magazine Tähdet ja avaruus ("Stars and Space") on Wednesday. Moilanen’s article was written with the help of NASA meteor expert Peter Jenniskens, who is considered one of the world’s leading authorities in the field.

The comet itself has not yet been pinpointed, but it is believed to have an orbit around the sun that is about 4,000 years long. It comes closest to Earth just inside this planet’s orbit, and is considered one of the five most potentially dangerous comets for Earth in the long term.

Nevertheless, experts say that the likelihood of a collision with Earth in the coming millennia is vary small.

"It could be coming, or then the meteor shower could be material that it has left behind, such as dust or grains of sand. There is no sense in being too frightened by it", Moilanen says.

It was confirmed this autumn that the shower can be seen each year in October. The name that was proposed for the the event is the October Camelopardalis, because the meteor showers linked with the comet appear in the sky near the constellation Camelopardalis, or giraffe.

[link to www.hs.fi]
Torino Scale

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12/01/2006 12:06 AM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
May the fury of God strike us down.
We are getting closer to the absolute core of the soul. Signs in Heaven and Earth will increase. The absolute necessity of peace and love will smack us right upside our heads in a big way. One way or another change is gonna come. Big change.
Anonymous Coward
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12/01/2006 01:07 AM
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Re: Meteor sightings continue, this one in Alabama
I saw a very bright one while driving I 80 2weeks ago.


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