In the tradition of several of my fellow Astronomy presenters (Fred Watson comes to mind). I have laid down one of my original songs as a recording. Written, Sung and played by myself, mastered and mixed by my friend Josh McKeough (Thanks Josh !). ¬†The Song is “FIFO Blues” & ¬†for the uninitiated, FIFO is Fly In Fly Out. Something I have been doing on and off for the past 25 years of my working life.
I hope you enjoy the music and if you are or have been a FIFO, you will understand the lyrics and the experience behind them:2 comments
The discovery of the Comet C/2013 A1 and its possible impact on Mars, The Chelyabinsk Impact on Feb 15 2013 (injuring over 1500 people) , The two comets Lemmon & PANstarrs gracing the southern skies in March 2013, the near miss by Asteroid DA2012 & the upcoming comet Ison (touted to be the Comet the century) in November 2013, poses a question ?
Is there an increased level of Comet & Asteroid activity and if so, is there a cause for this ?
It is a well known fact that our star, the sun, rises and falls through the Galactic plane every 35 to 4o Million years.¬† It has been theorized¬† that as it does so, interaction with nearby stars could be a cause of comets being flung into the inner solar system. However we are currently 2-5 millions into our journey OUT of the plane of The Milky Way and typical transit time into the inner solar system is perhaps Circa one million years.
So why are we apparently seeing more comets and asteroids now than at any time in the past ? The Chelyabinsk impact in Russia in February 2013 has only served to highlight concern about potential impacts on the earth by extraterrestrial bodies. Enough so, that both the US and Russian governments are now expanding the space search programs to look for these potential impactors.
The search for Asteroids has been steadily building since the invention of the telescope 400 years ago. That search has increased exponentially over recent years. Just 10 short years ago, when I co-founded Gove Astronomers in the Northern Territory, Australia, there was no effective program in the southern hemisphere for detecting NEO’s (Near Earth Objects). Now there is a world wide program in place intended to detect objects in the 100 metre plus range (high consequence impacts). This has routinely shown up NEO’s in the 20 to 50 metre class, which in themselves could cause local devastation.
So are there more meteors now that in the past, or are we simply more aware of then ? I think this simulation of Asteroid discovery from the 80′s to 2011 in part answers that question. (expand to full screen for best effect !)
So what about comets, are there more of them now than in the past ? Comet hunting has been popular among Astronomers, both professional and Amateur (unpaid) since the first telescopes fell into their hands. With the advent of the all sky surveys such as Linear, Neat and the most recent addition PANstarrs (Giving the name to the exciting comet of March 2013) & the SOHO discovery of sungrazers as they dive into the corona of the sun, the rate of early discovery has increased.
Anecdotal evidence would suggest the rate is increasing: As of January 2011 there are a reported 4,185 known comets of which about 1,500 are Kreutz Sungrazers and about 484 are short-period. This number is steadily increasing. However, this represents only a tiny fraction of the total potential comet population: the reservoir of comet-like bodies in the outer Solar System may number one trillion. (Wikipedia)
While we are discovering and seeing more comets & asteroids now than at any time in the past, this is largely due to the increased rate of discovery, better equipment enabling more people to see faint comets, the pervasive availability of information online and of course the mainstream medias propensity for latching on the sensational stories & beating them up.
So could we be hit by a devastating comet or asteroid in our lifetimes ? Clearly the answer is YES.
Is this any more likely than at anytime in our past history ? Probably NOT.No comments
With all the focus on Asteroid DA 2102 no one saw it coming ! In the biggest meteorite impact since the Tunguska event of 1908 in the Siberian wilderness.
This event has been quite destructive with reports of many square kilometers of glass having been shattered, along with over 1000 people injured & buildings damaged.
Amazingly there are no reports of deaths thus far. There is extensive footage all over You tube.
NASA reports on the details of the object, its trajectory & explosive power as follows:
New information provided by a worldwide network of sensors has allowed scientists to refine their estimates for the size of the object that entered that atmosphere and disintegrated in the skies over Chelyabinsk, Russia, at 7:20:26 p.m. PST, or 10:20:26 p.m. EST on Feb. 14 (3:20:26 UTC on Feb. 15).
The estimated size of the object, prior to entering Earth’s atmosphere, has been revised upward from 49 feet (15 meters) to 55 feet (17 meters), and its estimated mass has increased from 7,000 to 10,000 tons. Also, the estimate for energy released during the event has increased by 30 kilotons to nearly 500 kilotons of energy released. These new estimates were generated using new data that had been collected by five additional infrasound stations located around the world ‚Äď the first recording of the event being in Alaska, over 6,500 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk. The infrasound data indicates that the event, from atmospheric entry to the meteor’s airborne disintegration took 32.5 seconds. The calculations using the infrasound data were performed by Peter Brown at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.
So why was this missed ? Are we not looking closely enough, was the object just to small or do we need more funding ?
Despite its massive size, the object went undetected until it hit the atmosphere. “I’m not aware of anyone who saw this coming,” says Heiner Klinkrad, head of the European Space Agency’s space debris office at the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany. Although a network of telescopes watches for asteroids that might strike Earth, it is geared towards spotting larger objects ‚ÄĒ between 100 meters and a kilometer in size.
“Objects like that are nearly impossible to see until a day or two before impact,” says Timothy Spahr, Director of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which tracks asteroids and small bodies. So far as he knows, he says, his centre also failed to spot the approaching rock.
Source: Scientific American
There will I am sure be a lot more follow up to this one, including the recovery of fragments of the meteor, some of which I am sure will be large !
With all the dramatic footage and the unprecedented damage from the Russian Meteorite it is a timely reminder of our vulnerability to these objects.
There are those who are taking action to detect these objects, such as the B612 Foundation
I am amazed by how quickly this has slipped out of the news and off our collective radar. Perhaps it is something we do not like to think about ?
A kind of collective denial (it wont happen to me), I guess this is why there is a survivalist movement active around the world.
I for one am glad to know that there are organizations that are looking & putting together a plan !
You may have heard about the close call the earth is about to have with a football field sized asteroid NEO 2012 DA14
I have attached a link to the map here showing where it is visible in the morning sky (with Binoculars) from wherever you are. You will need to add your location to show the visibility of 2012 DA14
It will look much like a passing satellite, although moving slow by comparison at 0.5 Degree’s of Arc per minute
during the early morning twilight. At that speed it will be challenging to track with a telescope, making binoculars a better choice.
With the 21st of December approaching and increasing numbers of questions from people about what will happen, I feel it is time to set the record straight:
- There is no Nibaru, it does not exist, you could walk out your door and see it if it did.
- The earth and sun do not align with the galactic centre any more than at any other year, and¬†so what if they do.
- Our sun is no threat to the earth ( well not at least for a few billion years)
- The Mayan Calendar resets and STARTS AGAIN !!!
- NASA has the press release for the 22nd of December, confident you will be reading it.
- The only real credible threat to the planet is Consumption Growth & the prevailing belief the indefinite growth is possible in a finite system !
- You can get your 2013 Astronomy calendar from my¬†NightSkySecrets¬† Astro store, because I am confident you will be using it in 2013
Or will there be a shift in consciousness, heralding a new age of enlightenment ?¬† Well I certainly hope so, the human race, the planet and everything else that lives on it could sure do with the help.
See you on the 22nd of December !No comments
This¬†image floating around the net of the planets aligned over the Pyramids in Egypt on the 3rd of Dec, only happens every 2737 years, tell¬†all your friends ..¬†Blah …Blah .
For a good Landscape Astrophotographer it would even be good at the Pyramids !
I have been asked many times in the past few weeks just what will be visible of the eclipse for Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land NT.
So from the eclipse chasers site here it is:
Magnitude (along diameter): 98%
Obscuration (surface area):99%
Begins: 7:44:12.7 PM UT, Not visible
Maximum: 8:35:29.4 PM UT, Alt: 3 degrees
Ends: 9:31:41 PM UT, Alt: 17 degrees
(Note: times are Universal time not local)¬†¬† ¬† ¬†¬† ¬†
Calculated results at this point:
Calculated point at 12.183S, 136.7782E
This is calculated for up on Mt Saunders in Nhulunbuy.
However anywhere you have a clear view of the sunrise at the horizon will be good.
Note that the sun is only 3 Degree’s about the horizon at maximum, IE: soon after sunrise.
You will have to venture south to see a total eclipse !
There is a link on my 2012 Total Eclipse page for performing calculations for the eclipse at a given point.
For a look at totality you would have to be at least at this point on the track out
Calculated point at 12.5941S, 136.5738E :
This is what you would see, IF you have a clear view of the eastern horizon.
|¬†1st contact:||5:14:35.5 AM||-|
|¬†2nd contact:||6:05:28.4 AM||3.5|
|¬†Mid eclipse:||6:05:54 AM||3.6|
|¬†3rd contact:||6:06:19.5 AM||3.7|
|¬†4th contact:||7:02:01.9 AM||16.6|
|Calculated Limb corrections applied.
C2=1.5, C3=2.9 seconds.
Totality duration at this location was calculated as 49.7 seconds.¬† The Sun will be about 3.6 degrees above the astronomical horizon for totality.
Remember stay safe and always use safe solar viewing methods, such as these eclipse glasses available at NightSkySecrets.com
Happy Eclipse chasing !No comments
Well this is it, as recorded by¬† NASA‚Äôs twin Radiation Belt Storm Probe (RBSP) satellites
These are real sound as you would hear if you were in space listening to them !
It is due to an interaction between the earths magnetosphere and energetic particles.
It has been known about for some time and is called “The Chorus” sounding for all the world like a ¬†bird’s song !
I hope you enjoy it, I certainly did!
Audio Credit: Universityof Iowa
Visualisation Credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center
From humble beginnings in Sydney in 2007, Earth Hour has become a a Global time for reflection on how we can all make a difference in protecting the planet from – 7 Billion of us.
It also highlights the level of light pollution across the world, all of which destroys our fundamental right to an unimpeded view of the birthplace of the planet itself (and us) that grand Galaxy, The Milky Way of which we are but a small part.No comments
An interesting question has been posed on the ABC Far North Regional Radio Gardening Program. “Is the rise in Solar Flares affecting plants with unexplained burning observed”
Firstly a quick explanation of how the sun interacts with the earths Atmosphere, a topic covered several time on ATSG. The charged plasma ejected during CME events on the sun certainly interacts with the earths Atmosphere producing Glorious Aurora’s. However the most likely effect on the ground will be any growth of the Ozone Hole that develops over The Arctic and Antarctic each year. The resulting increase in UV can certainly have an effect on plants and animals on the earth.
More to come on this subject !
27-3-12: This Simulation from NASA certainly highlights the amount of energy released into our Atmosphere by these events !