Welcome to the Frontpage
Fireball Hits Near Canal Flats 20 Dec 2014
On the Hunt for rare rock after meteorite falls in DecemberUniversity of Calgary geoscience professor asking for the public’s help.
A month after a spectacular fireball December 20, 2014, over the Rocky Mountains, University of Calgary researcher Alan Hildebrand is on a quest for rare meteorites.
In the early morning hours of December 20 a small piece of an asteroid entered Earth’s atmosphere high above Canal Flats, British Columbia, headed northeastwards towards Calgary, Alberta. Although western B.C. and eastern Alberta were overcast, the fireball was seen and imaged over the region between the clouds in both provinces. One spectacular still image was luckily taken by Brett Abernethy who was out with a friend imaging the night sky over Mt. Rundle near Banff when the fireball blazed an 80 km-long trail across the sky (See attached figure 1). Brett says, “We were looking north when everything lit up and we turned to see the fireball. It broke into at least three pieces and turned bright orange before fading away. After the initial shock I remembered that I was exposing a shot during the fireball and was overjoyed to discover that the shot was not overexposed.” Brett alerted the Calgary Herald to the event, who published his image which stimulated on-line discussion from other eyewitnesses.
In his search for more information about the fireball Hildebrand contacted Rick Nowell at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook, B.C., who recorded it with his Sandia all-sky video camera through patchy clouds, and was able to correctly mark the fireball’s start time to precisely 00:25:00. With this accurate time, another all-sky still image was obtained from the University of Calgary’s Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (RAO). With these additional images in hand, he and his team were able to triangulate its location in the sky.
“It was very interesting to see how precisely a fireball path could be located just from two pictures taken more than 100 km away. We probably know where it was, start to finish within 100 metres,” says Lincoln Hanton, a recent University of Calgary graduate working with Hildebrand. The video recorded in Cranbrook and the fireball’s trajectory also show that it was a relatively slow entry velocity which favours the fall of meteorites.Hildebrand says the fireball shows extraordinary properties. “In the photo taken by Brett, the fireball becomes visible at approximately 100 km altitude, starts fragmenting at approximately 60 km, and has its last and biggest explosion at 43 km. Those altitudes are much higher than normal. That means the rock was likely a weak type of asteroid.”
Rare carbonaceous chondrite rock
Hildebrand says the apparent weakness displayed indicates that this rock was unusual, probably a carbonaceous chondrite, which is a specific type of stony meteorite that originates from the Outer Asteroid Belt. At that distance from the Sun water and carbon-bearing compounds condensed and mixed into asteroidal bodies. Carbonaceous chondrites represent only approximately three per cent of meteorites that fall on Earth.
“Eyewitness accounts indicate that meteorites fell after surviving the trip through the atmosphere; the estimated rock mass entering the atmosphere was about 100 kg, but the largest pieces on the ground are probably only 2 kg,” says Hildebrand. “The meteorites fell in a forested area of the upper White River valley. It’s a tough area to search.” (See Figure 2)
Hildebrand says with the possibility of such a rare find his team will do some searching in the spring and encourage any others who can travel safely in this relatively remote area to search as well. How you can help
Contact information: Brett Abernethy 403-620-6929 Lincoln Hanton 403-220-8969 Alan Hildebrand 403-220-2291 Rick Nowell 250-489-2751 ext 3585
Figure 1: Brett Abernethy’s image of the Dec 20 fireball looking south over Mt. Rundle from near Johnson Lake. The fireball crossed the constellation of Orion and then began fragmenting where the trail brightens and broadens. Note the slight reddening at the fireball’s end as the surviving rock fragments slowed and cooled before falling to the ground. Image is a 40 second exposure taken with a Canon 5D Mark III with a wide angle Zeiss 21 mm lens which slightly compresses the vertical aspect of the image. (All rights reserved)
Figure 2: Satellite image of eastern British Columbia showing location of the fireball trajectory projected onto the ground and estimated meteorite fall area as a yellow ellipse. The end of the fireball was about 40 km east of Fairmont Hot Springs. An eyewitness in Canal Flats would have seen the fireball travel almost straight downwards in the sky. (Figure constructed on Google Earth base)
Geminid Meteor Shower 14 Dec 2014
Geminid Meteor Shower Sun Dec 14 2014
One of the best meteor showers during the year are the Geminids, which occur annually on Dec 14. Earth enters the fringes of their orbit from Dec 4 until Dec 17. The peak of 120 meteors per hour, should be from Saturday noon Dec 13, until Sunday morning 10am Dec 14, 2014.
The skies were dark, since the Moon didn't rise until after midnight. Although both nights it got cloudy around 1am where I am near Cranbrook, BC. The meteors were generally bright, medium fast speeds of 35km/s, and different colours. I saw white and red. This shower has some mass sorting, with small dust arriving the first day, followed by grains of sand, then pebbles a day later. It's debris from a 5km diameter asteroid, 3200 Pheathon.
Dec 16 is also the peak for a smaller meteor shower, the Coma Berenicids, with a peak of 3 meteors per hour.
I took three Nikon cameras out. I goofed on one camera, I had it set for just ISO 1000. That captured two meteors in Ursa Minor, and that's why they were so dim. The other two cameras were set at 3200 ISO, which is optimum. The max is 6400, but that can be snowy. The slight background brown glow is woodsmoke and thin cloud, the camera sensor shows haze like that. This was a Vivitar 28mm f/2.5 lens, hooded against the frost. All the tripods and camera equipment quickly frosted over at the -7 deg temperatures.
I was out again Sunday evening by Horseshoe Lake, with clouds over Orion. I got a hundred more photos and listened to coyotes howling nearby. The meteors were pretty nice still, I saw one every minute, some just out of the corners of my eye. Most were white falling parallel to the northern and southern horizon. Two I saw were moving slow, red in colour, on the far Western horizon.
The AllSky Meteor Cam at the College of the Rockies in Cranbrook BC
This is the College All-sky meteor cam showing the eleven brightest Dec 15 meteors stacked on one frame, from 7pm until 2am when it clouded over. North at top of photo and East to the left. Two bright fireballs on the horizon! That trail of dots there is Jupiter rising. Some clumps of dots are just aircraft strobes.
And here's the 11 meteor stack for Dec 14 from 9pm until 1:15am, when it clouded over. About the same each evening.
And just for fun, here's all the photos stacked from the camera watching Ursa Minor over a 43 minute period, taken with 30 second exposures, 28mm f/2.5 lens, 1000 ISO.
This photo was taken facing South, showing Orion before the Moon rose, from Invermere by Robert Ede. He says: I saw some beauties. A few with smoke trails.
Leonid Meteor Shower and Northern Lights 2014 Nov 17.9
The LEONID METEOR SHOWER rapidly approaches us on Sunday night/ Monday morning, Nov 16/17, when the Earth passes through dust and ice particles from comet Tempel-Tuttle. Meteor counts are estimated at around 15 per hour this year (or one meteor every 4 minutes). The crescent Moon is below the Eastern horizon until around 1am, so the skies will be fairly dark. The Leonid meteors are travelling swiftly at 71 km/s which can create fast green ionization trails 70 to 120km high in the upper atmosphere.
Leo, the meteor radiant, rises about midnight (can you see the backwards question mark framing the head and mane of Leo the Lion in the constellation photo above, with Regulus as the dot?). Big bright Jupiter is a white dot in front of Leo (not shown here). The higher Leo rises, the more meteors to be seen. Thus, the best time is after midnight until about 6am. The actual peak is Monday Nov 17 at 22:00 hr universal time or (minus 7) that's 3pm Mountain Standard Time, or 2pm Pacific.
The crescent Moon rises at 1am, just under the belly of Leo, which gives a glow which drowns out the fainter meteors.
Here's some notes from the IAU, The International Astronomical Union:
LEONID METEORS 2014
S. Nakano, Sumoto, Japan; and D. Asher, Armagh Observatory, write that it will be scientifically interesting to see if two enhanced streams of Leonid meteors can be detected -- both predicted to be at low levels if observable -- around Nov. 17.06-17.07 UT (due to material ejected from comet 55P in 1833 and seen in 1867, predicted by Nakano and Y. Kosai) and Nov. 21.3-21.4 (material from 1567, predicted by M. Maslov and J. Vaubaillon). The main stream of Leonid meteors is expected to peak around Nov. 17.9 (with full-width at half-maximum of a couple of days, via Maslov).
(C) Copyright 2014 CBAT 2014 November 16 (CBET 4016) Daniel W. E. Green
Chance of seeing NORTHERN LIGHTS:
The NOAA spaceweather site mentions there was a medium M3 solar flare on Nov 15, and predicts some Northern Light activity on Nov 15, dying down by the 17. So you may also see the Aurora to the North if you're at higher latitudes. The photo below shows a red/green Aurora spike seen against the Big Dipper stars, with the Skookumchuck Pulp Mill amber lights illuminating a plume of steam drifting up from it's stacks, glowing in the woodsmoke low behind the tree. Taken on Saturday night, Nov 15, from Wasa BC (in South-eastern BC).
Like meteors, the aurora occurs in the upper atmosphere, where gas molecules are hit by electrons from the Sun. The lower edge at 80 to 100 km is where nitrogen atoms glow crimson; midway between 100 and 200km, oxygen gas glows green, and nitrogen glows blue; and above that from 100 to 250 km, oxygen gas glows a dim red.
NASA's Night Sky in October 2014
What's up for October 2014. The sky at night this month from NASA JPL.
The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower
The Eta Aquarid Meteor Shower should peak Monday night, the 5th of May at 07:00 Universal Time (or midnight Mountain Time, 11pm Pacific Time), but the best viewing times (due to the Moon and a low Eastern radiant) will a few hours before dawn Tuesday morning, around 4am to 5am.
At the peak, up to 55 meteors could be seen each hour. They're pretty fast, at 66km/second, often bright with very long paths, and leave persistent glowing trails.
The source of the meteors is debris from Halley's comet. The Comet's orbital path contains dust particles and ice (thinned out in spots by Jupiter). The Earth crosses the orbital path of Halley's Comet twice each year. In May we see it as the Eta Aquarid meteor shower and in October the Orionids.
The Eta Aquarids should be best seen early Tuesday morning. The Moon will have set by then, so it will be seen under a dark sky. The radiant is low in the Eastern sky, in Aquarius, which rises around 4am. So half the meteors will be unseen below the horizon.
For more information, see http://www.imo.net/calendar/2014#eta
College of the Rockies
Cranbrook, BC, Canada
49°31'03"N, 115°44'37"W, 940m
Comet ISON and Meteor Counts in January 2014
Preliminary results from Belarus-Ukraine observers :
are consistent with the hypothesis that earth did pass through Comet ISON’s long tail in January 7-23, and that this caused a significant increase in meteor counts as detected by observers in Ukraine and Belarus.
To read early report (PS this is a work in progress : http://1drv.ms/1gWhvHW )
Period January 7-23
Year Average Count
2013 / 20
2014 / 80
Call to Action : If any others can summarize their own results this would be very helpful.
Minsk Team write :
Уважаемые коллеги Александр и Bill !
Остаётся просмотреть снимки на 2,5 олл-скай камерах :-)
11 - 13 января - явно вырисовывается радиант "спорадических" метеоров из
региона Leo,LMi, UMa, UMi, Cam, Lyn, Cnc.
Мы просмотрели снимки олл-скай камер в интервале времени 10 - 17 января 2014 года.
Иван М. Сергей показал график радионаблюдений метеорного фона за январь 2014 - там хорошо просматривается повышенная метеорная активность 08 - 24 января 2014. Прилагаю графики радионаблюдений за январь 2012 и январь 2013
Может нам поднять снимки и просмотреть ещё раз в интервале 06 - 26 января 2014 ?
Bill, может у Вас кто-нибудь тоже проведёт подобную работу - просмотры снимков олл-скай камер и радионаблюдения метеорного фона
Анастасия Кулаковская, Валентин Таболич, Анастасия Таболич.
Dear colleagues, Alexander and Bill!
It remains to view images on 2.5 all-sky cameras :-)
January 11-13 - clearly emerges radiant " sporadic " meteors from the region
Leo, LMi, UMa, UMi, Cam, Lyn, Cnc.
We viewed pictures of all- sky cameras in the time interval 10-17 January 2014.
Ivan Sergei M. schedule radio observations showed meteor background for January 2014 - there is clearly visible meteor activity increased 08 - January 24, 2014 . Attached chart for radio observations in January 2012 and January 2013
Maybe we should raise the pictures and see again in the range of 06 - 26 January 2014 ?
Bill, can you hold someone too similar work - views pictures all- sky cameras and radio observations of the meteor background?
Anastasia Kulakovskaya, Valentin Tabolich, Anastasia Tabolich.
Northern lights photographed by Andy Gray on Nov 27
Northern lights photographed by Andy Gray on Nov 27 @ Northumberland, UKFebruary 27, 2014
This was the night of the COMET ISON perihelion and sublimation event November 27th. The cosmic wind would carry particles in a cone shape away from far side of the sun. So it is just a coincidence? But then maybe the sublimation happened over many days even a couple of weeks (not a single explosion) and perhaps particles were projected earthwards.
See : https://twitter.com/search?q=%23aurora&src=hash for todays aurora news as the earth continues its pass through Comet ISON's trailing particles.
4 Meteor Showers and Comet Lovejoy
For the past few weeks you may have noticed meteors shooting across the sky. There is the Geminid meteor shower and three other smaller meteor showers in progress. Although with the bright moon, the dimmer meteors aren't as easily seen.
The Geminids started Dec 4 and end Dec 17. On Sat Dec 14, at their peak they can give 120 meteors per hour. Fairly slow for meteors, they are travelling at a speed of 35 km/s. (That's still pretty fast. For comparison, the International space station orbits at 8km/s, and goes around the Earth in 90 minutes.)
There are three smaller showers in progress:
The sigma-Hydrids from Dec 03-Dec 15, peaked on Thurs Dec 12 with 3 meteors/hour, at speeds of 58km/s.
The Comae Berenicids from Dec 12-Jan 23 peaked on Monday Dec 16 with 3 meteors/hour, at speeds of 65km/s
And the December Leo Minorids from Dec 05-Feb 04 peak on Thurs Dec 19 with 5 meteors/hour at 64km/s
Don't forget Comet Lovejoy in the early morning around 7am, before sunrise, a small fuzzy blob visible between Hercules and Corona Borealis above the eastern horizon. The bright moon drowns it out currently, so you'll need binoculars or a telescope to see it and its slight tail.
An Incredible Visualization of Asteroids
An Incredible Visualization of Asteroids from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. 100,000 asteroids in computer generated simulation from Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
Read more: http://www.universetoday.com/109664/an-incredible-visualization-of-asteroids-from-the-sloan-digital-sky-survey/#ixzz2uBBnO6fO