Tuesday29 June 200410:41pm MDT2004-06-30 UTC 0441 back top next  

The Asteroid/Comet Connection's
daily news journal about
asteroids, comets, and meteors

Today's issue status: done, updated

Cover: A Saturday night California fireball caught by Wayne Watson (top) and Dave Kenyon's Sandia all-sky cameras 35 miles (56 km.) apart in the western foothills of the Sierra Mountains northeast of Sacramento, and also witnessed from San Mateo in the San Francisco Bay Area a hundred miles away. See below about how information is coming together about this event. The images at left are composites from the camera owners, made from Quicktime movie files that are grayscale with coloring added to enhance detail. North is up and east is left, and the Moon is in view.

California fireball – panel 1/2 Major News for 29 June 2004 back top next  
California fireball

Wayne Watson posted a message to the MeteorObs mailing list yesterday about catching three fireballs with his northern California Sandia all-sky camera during the night of 26-27 June, and he referred people to his Recent Meteor Movies page. When Marco Langbroek took a look, he realized that the largest of the three, at about 11:30pm PDT, might be connected with A/CC's Sunday news item about “an uncorroborated eyewitness account of a fireball seen from San Mateo, California at 11:30pm Saturday night.”

A/CC isn't able to evaluate eyewitness reports received from unknown sources, but they are passed on to fireball investigators, and just enough information may be posted by A/CC to see if additional accounts can be found. This report had come from Marc Rogers, who noted that it looked like the meteor might have landed “east of berkeley/hayward hills.” A line drawn northeast between Berkeley and Hayward from San Mateo on San Francisco Bay points generally toward Nevada City, 135 miles (217 km.) away in the western foothills of the

Sierra Mountains, which is where Wayne Watson's camera caught a fireball nearly overhead at about the given time.

Rogers reported that a “Large leading fireball broke apart into 3 small and 1 large yellow fireballs,” but Watson's camera saw only one large fireball (composite above, Quicktime 1.01Mb movie). After being alerted by Langbroek about the possible connection, A/CC put Watson and Rogers in touch last night, and pointed out this difference. Watson replied that he also had another mystery: Why had all this escaped Dave Kenyon's Sandia all-sky camera 35 miles to the southwest, back toward San Mateo?

About an hour later that mystery was solved, and another record of the fireball had been found. Wayne Watson reported that Dave Kenyon had rechecked his setup and discovered that, for some reason, his image records were off by 35 minutes. And what Kenyon found “shows more fragmentation than mine,” although that's not evident in the composite above.

continued >>

California fireball – panel 2/2 Major News for 29 June 2004 back top next  

<< continued from panel 1

In his message to the MeteorObs mailing list, Watson noted that the large fireball was “a bit more slow moving than similar fireballs I've seen,” and speculated it might be associated with the fireballs seen over the eastern U.S. at about 10:53pm EDT Saturday night (7:53 PDT) from a Russian rocket breaking up (see at right). Marco Langbroek thought a secondary re-entry event might be a reasonable possibility and queried the SatObs mailing list for expert opinion. Ted Molczan responded with an explanation of why this could be “safely” ruled out. So, without another known re-entry, it appears that what Marc Rogers and the two all-sky cameras saw was a meteor.

More meteors:  Beside the large fireball Saturday night (see above), Wayne Watson's Recent Meteor Movies page has two bright meteors from Sunday morning seen from Nevada City, California, at 1:21am and 2:19am PDT (0821 and 0919 UT). Far away, Sandia National Labs has posted a bright meteor movie from that same morning over Albuquerque, New Mexico at 1:54 MDT (0754 UT) (444Kb).

Russian rocket A/CC posted an alert from Marco Langbroek early Sunday (see report), but there has been little in the news media about fireballs viewed across eastern North America Saturday night, caused by the re-entry of an old Russian booster rocket.

The Pennsylvania Patriot-News yesterday panned a concert performance with this:

A strange spatial phenomenon streaked across the sky Saturday night during Aerosmith's set at Hersheypark Stadium. What it was — a meteor, a bit of space junk flaming out in the atmosphere — was unclear, but it underscored the generally strange vibe that pervaded the show from start to finish. 

And the Olean, New York Times Herald has an article today about the Saturday show at a drive-in theater:

[The] pyrotechnics exploded above the screen about 10:45 p.m., between showings of “Garfield the Movie” and “The Day After Tomorrow” . . . four little glowing objects in front of a bright object that was trailing sparks. 
News briefs – panel 1/1 Major News for 29 June 2004 back top next  
News briefs

Naming:  The George Mason University Daily Gazette has an article today about the naming of 71556 Page (2000 DW17) for defense analyst and computational sciences PhD student Gary Page by David Dixon, who discovered this Main Belt asteroid at Jornada Observatory in New Mexico. It was announced in the May 2004 namings. Page is quoted in the article as saying that he, his dissertation professor, and Dixon are “writing a paper now, dealing with utilizing asteroids with eccentric orbits to probe the mass distribution in the outer solar system.” And Dixon tells A/CC that “It is getting to be almost as much fun to name my discoveries and see what happens as it is to discover a new one. But only ‘almost’ as much fun.”

Risk monitoring - panel 1/1 Major News for 29 June 2004 back top next  
Risk monitoring 29 June

NEO discovery and follow-up slows around the time of the full Moon. Presently the only active concern is 2004 ME6, a small asteroid so far seen only by professional 1.06m and 1.8m telescopes, and not since 0532 UT on June 26th. So it is not a surprise that there is nothing to report for impact risk monitoring from the Tuesday Daily Orbit Update MPEC.

NEODyS today posted 1998 DK36 under its “Lost objects” category with an assessment having 15 very low-rated impact solutions in the years 2023-2079. See Friday news for more about this small object.

Late news:  JPL has posted two newly discovered objects that were announced after 2230 UTC today — 2004 MO7 and 2004 MP7. MP7 was discovered Saturday by amateur astronomer Roy Tucker at Goodricke-Pigott Observatory in Arizona (MPEC 2004-M67), and MO7 was discovered by David Tholen and Fabrizio Bernardi on June 16th from Mauna Kea in Hawaii (MPEC 2004-M68).

Summary Risk Table - sources checked at 0406 UTC, 30 Jun




 2004 MP7JPL 6/302073-20873-4.29-4.3003.618
 2004 MO7JPL 6/302016-208811-4.83-5.4803.869
 2004 ME6JPL 6/282017-209943-5.64-6.3500.873
 NEODyS 6/272044-20637-7.29-7.7600.873
VI = count of "virtual impactors" (impact solutions)
See A/CC's Consolidated Risk Tables for more and maybe
  newer details, and check the monitors' links for latest info.
Note that only objects recently in view are shown here.
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