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Selected links to asteroid, comet, and meteor news   -   July 2006

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Updated: 5 Oct. 2006

Notes: 1) Many of these links are also carried on A/CC's RSS news feed and may sometimes appear there first. 2) News release links are fairly stable but news media links are often temporary, so grab any pages now that might be useful to you later.

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31
July
2006
Stardust public participation
  • "Calling All Dust Hunters" (31 July) Planetary Soc. news release:  "Stardust@home [is] a project where internet users search for microscopic interstellar dust particles captured by NASA's Stardust spacecraft... Each Stardust@home user will use an online 'virtual microscope' to look for signs of interstellar grains in focus movies [of the aerogel collector] fed to the virtual microscope at random."
  • Stardust@Home
  • Stardust mission
  • Planetary Soc. Stardust@Home project page
Hera mission -- Univ. of Arkansas news release:  "A recent grant from NASA will enable the Arkansas Center for Space and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arkansas to continue its work creating missions to asteroids and exploring the possibilities and chemistry of water on Mars... One of these projects concerns the development of a sample collector for the Hera near-Earth asteroid sample return mission that the center has proposed to NASA... The public face of the space center is provided by numerous outreach efforts, public lectures, summer teacher's workshops, a monthly newsletter called Space Notes and a popular magazine called Meteorite."

5-31
July
2006
Prairie Meteorite Search
  • "Life-long interest in meteorites pays off for B.C. woman" (31 July) Univ. of Calgary news release:  "The University of Calgary-based Prairie Meteorite Search has confirmed that a weathered chunk of iron Renee Johnson picked up while hunting for Christmas trees with her husband near Prince Rupert, B.C. nearly 38 years ago is of extra-terrestrial origin."
  • "A space that rocks" (6 July) Williams Lake, B.C. Tribune article:  "Only two meteorites have ever been found in British Columbia, but [Adrian] Karolko would like to increase that number by helping locals identify their strange rocks... So far this summer Karolko has found one potential meteorite that belongs to a man in Prince George."
  • "Meteorite expert on tour in 100 Mile House" (5 July) 100 Mile House, B.C. Free Press article:  "Adrian Karolko, is a geology student at the University of Calgary and is spending the summer researching meteorites... About 7,000 meteorites hit the earth every year but only 68 have been found in Canada thus far, said Karolko. The Prairie Meteorite Search has been operational for six years and has only identified nine."
  • Prairie Meteorite Search

NEW
29
July
2006
Dawn Journal -- NASA Dawn mission news:  "In many ways, we are still in the early stages of humankind's journeys through the solar system. This is evident when we recognize that Dawn is the first spacecraft designed to orbit a target in the main asteroid belt. This vast region of space has been traversed by a few probes that were flung from the inner solar system to reach the outer solar system, but no spacecraft has yet been assigned to stop there and develop an intimate portrait of some of the residents." Note: Most of this report is about spacecraft preflight testing ahead of next June's launch, but also includes a link and invitation to put your name on a chip that will fly on the mission.

28
July
2006
England event -- Herts & Essex News article:  "Neil Bone, director of the [BAA] Meteor Section [said this fireball] 'looks to have been over the southern North Sea -- maybe off the Dutch coast.'" Note: This was apparently (but not stated as) Thursday night "at around 11.55pm," reported from Hoddesdon, Broxbourne, and Wormley.
Doomsday asteroids on TV -- New York, N.Y. Daily News article:  "If [99942 Apophis] hits, the impact would equal the force of 100 nuclear bombs, said [Neil deGrasse] Tyson, the new host of 'Nova scienceNOW.' The show will devote a segment of its Oct. 3 season premiere to 'doomsday asteroids.'"
Meteor showers -- Space.com column:  "This year, a waning gibbous Moon three days past full phase will seriously hamper Perseid watching, so why not take this opportunity to try and view ... six lesser showers that peak between July 28 and Aug. 19?"

27-28
July
2006
Cosmic dust in Antarctic ice
  • "Cosmic Dust in Terrestrial Ice" (28 July) Alfred Wegener Institute news release:  "[Scientists] for the first time [have] chronologically resolved measurements of the 3He and 4He flux of interplanetary and terrestrial dust particles preserved in the snow of the Antarctic ... over the last 30,000 years."
  • "Cosmic dust in ice cores" (27 July) Columbia Univ. news release at SpaceRef.com:  "[Scientists] found that the accumulation of cosmic dust did not change appreciably as the Earth emerged from the last great Ice Age and entered the current warm period."

26
July
2006
Call for Shoemaker NEO grant proposals -- Planetary Soc. news release:  "Since The Planetary Society's inception in 1980, the organization has donated well over a quarter million dollars to asteroid research, about half of which was awarded through 22 Shoemaker NEO grants to observers around the world."
Small bodies beyond Neptune -- Australian ABC article:  "[Michael] Ashley says it's been suggested there are around 100 billion objects in the [Kuiper] belt, but the latest observations [of stellar occultations using fiber optics and high-speed photography] suggest this could represent only a fraction of what's there." Note: See also a brief item on Stevie Curran's Web site.

24
July
2006
Planned lunar impact -- Spaceflight Now article:  "If the debris [from SMART-1's impact] reaches an altitude of over 12 miles, it could be lit by sunlight [and] amateur astronomers with smaller backyard telescopes could see the dust cloud backdropped by the darker lunar surface." Note: See also an ESA June 23rd news release.

23
July
2006
Large bodies beyond Neptune -- July 23rd London, England Sunday Times article:  "Astronomers are expected to add at least one new planet to the nine already known to exist in our solar system. The new body, provisionally named Xena [is] well beyond Pluto [and its] diameter is 1,490 miles, 70 miles greater than that of Pluto." Note: "Xena" is the nickname of the object officially identified as 2003 UB313 and is disavowed by co-discoverer Mike Brown on his 2003 UB313 page. The discovery observation was made 21 October 2003 and announced on July 29th last year in MPEC 2005-O41, which published observations from September 1989 through January 2005. Lowell Observatory's Orbit and Astrometry for 03UB313 shows observations now going all the way back to 3 September 1954, when it was recorded unnoticed by the same Mt. Palomar telescope used to make the 2003 discovery. See also a Hubble Space Telescope news release from April 11th and Mike Brown's page on this object's satellite, S/2005 (2003 UB313) 1, which is nicknamed "Gabrielle."

22
July
2006
George Wetherill -- Washington, D.C. Post article:  "George Wetherill, 80, a retired Carnegie Institution scientist and recipient of the nation's highest scientific award for his seminal work on the formation of planets and the solar system, died July 19... Dr. Wetherill's work also revealed the importance of Jupiter as protector of Earth and other planets [against] asteroids and comets."

21
July
2006
Pre-life molecules in comets -- Univ. of Michigan news release:  "Evidence of atomic nitrogen in interstellar gas clouds ... substantially changes the understanding of chemistry in space [and explains] why molecular nitrogen hasn't been detected in comets and meteorites."

7-21
July
2006
Flying telescopes       This all brings to mind NASA's SOFIA flying telescope, about which here is the latest news:
  • "SOFIA Project Gets Green Light" (21 July) Universities Space Research Assoc. news release:  "SOFIA is being prepared for its first test flight later this year. Having passed the vibration test, the airborne observatory is now scheduled for a series of aircraft ground operational tests and finishing touches."
  • "Grounded airborne telescope will take to the skies" (7 July) New Scientist article:  "It was almost ready for flight tests in February 2006, when NASA decided to eliminate its funding from 2007 and put the project under review... On Thursday morning, [it was announced] that NASA would restore funding to SOFIA."
  • "NASA Astronomical Observatory Passes Hurdle" (15 June) NASA news release:  "The world's largest airborne astronomical observatory has passed a technical and programmatic review that could potentially lead to the continuation of the mission."

20
July
2006
South Australia July 19th event -- July 20th Australian ABC article:  "[At] 1.30pm in the afternoon of July 19, many people across the Mid North of South Australia -- from Wirrabara Forest to Quorn and Hawker saw a large object moving across the sky [followed by a boom that] seismographs at Hawker and Wilpena registered."

16-20
July
2006
Dark skies
  • "Shedding light on a world of darkness" (20 July) New Zealand Herald article:  "The idea of a night sky heritage park is being pushed by a group connected to the Mt John observatory."
  • "Star light, star bright..." (18 July) Vail, Colo. Daily article:  "According to [the] director of the facility on Mt. Evans, Summit County is a major source of light pollution, even exceeding the glow from the Front Range as measured on a per capita basis."
  • "Night skies need protection" (18 July) Maui, Hawaii News editorial:  "The continued proliferation of sky-drowning ground light affects Haleakala as an observatory site."
  • "Accord on signs, lighting now hinges on 1 lone pole" (17 July) Tucson, Ariz. Daily Star article:  "Key provisions of proposed billboard settlement: ... All lighted billboards will have full cutoff lights."
  • "'Erasing the sky'" (16 July) Vail, Colo. Daily article:  "[Dr. Robert Stencel] came to the Summit Club to explain the toll artificial light is taking on the night sky."
  • "Fort Bend turns down the glare on lighting rules" (16 July) Houston, Texas Business Journal article at MSNBC:  "Striving to make the rules more developer-friendly and citing a potential loss in real estate deals, county lawmakers have redrawn lighting zone boundaries and commissioned a study to determine economic impact of the lighting ordinance." See also July 24th Fort Bend Herald and July 25th Fort Bend Now news items about an upcoming public hearing. Note: This ordinance is related to George Observatory in Texas.

19
July
2006
King Tut's glass beetle -- BBC article:  "Thursday's BBC Horizon programme reports an extraordinary new theory linking Tutankhamun's gem with a meteor." Note: See also a London Sunday Times article from June 27th.
Asteroid namings
  • "'Texas' among the stars with asteroid name" (19 July) Fort Bend, Texas Herald article:  "Nine years after its discovery by Bill Dillon and Randy Pepper, founding members of the George Observatory's Asteroid Team ... Asteroid 35352 has officially been named 'Texas.'" Note: This is about 35352 Texas (1997 PD2), which was in the namings announced June 13th.
  • "JK Rowling has had an asteroid named after her" (19 July) Bang Showbiz news release at PR Inside:  Note: This is about 43844 Rowling (1993 OX2), which was in the namings announced in March or April. This object was not "recently discovered," as stated in the news release, but rather was found thirteen years ago this month.

11-19
July
2006
Uzbek crater candidate
  • "Uzbek scientists claim that Dry Lake is ancient meteorite impact zone" (19 July) UzReport.com article:  "'[Images] from space revealed an oval shaped structure in Kungrad district of the Republic of Karakalpakstan (140km south-east of Shahpahta Village), which corresponds to the geographical object known as Dry Lake [now concluded to be] a crater left by a meteorite,' [quoting] a specialist of the State Geology Committee of Uzbekistan, Alexey Gluh. [The object hit in] the south-east of Ustyurt plateau, approximately 50,000 years ago."
  • Uzbek crater candidate (11 July) UzReport.com news item:  "The meteorite crater is located in an unpopulated deserted plateau Ust-Yurt, located in the north-western part of [Uzbekistan]... The hole is 7 km wide and 10 km long" and is estimated at 11 million years old.

14-18
July
2006
July 14th southeastern Norway event
  • "Family finds another meteorite" (18 July) Aftenposten article:  "The Johansen Family of Moss, south of Oslo, came home from their summer holidays to find a meteorite in their garden."
  • "Meteor bits found near Rygge" (17 July) Aftenposten article:  "[Ragnar Martinsen] was sitting in the outhouse at his holiday cabin near Rygge when he heard an enormous blast. Right after that, some particles from a meteor that exploded over the Oslo area rained down just outside."
  • "Meteor explosion recorded over Oslo Fjord area" (14 July) Aftenposten article:  "Seismologist Johannes Schweitzer was on duty at NORSAR Friday morning, when the meteor is believed to have exploded around 10:15am... Officials ... said there likely are remnants of the meteor lying on the ground between Gardermoen to the northeast of Oslo and Askim to the southeast." Note: This article refers to the June 7th northern Norway event. Update: A confused United Press International (UPI) wire story appearing on multiple Web news sites mistakenly reports that this event occurred last month on the 14th, which was a Wednesday.

13-18
July
2006
Queensland meteorites
  • "Meteorites found in dinosaur country" (18 July) Australian ABC article:  "Alex Cook is the senior curator in the Geosciences department at the Queensland Museum ... and says it's a really exceptional find."
  • "Astronomical find" (14 July) Brisbane, Qld. Courier Mail article:  "'The night it fell I had a really profound dream (of where it landed), it was so vivid,' Mr Elliott said. 'It was only 500m away from the area I had dreamt the bloody thing was.'"
  • "Winton resident makes meteorite discovery" (14 July) Australian ABC radio program "The World Today" transcript:  "On the 31st of March 2004 the sky was alive in Winton. The town stood in awe as lights flashed across the black horizon." Note: See A/CC's 2004 news thread under "Meteor news" and "Queensland event."
  • "Dinosaur hunter tracks down meteorites" (13 July) London, England Times article:  "His meteorites are only the second such find in Queensland in 130 years... [In] late May, Mr Elliott discovered the larger of the meteorites while riding a motorbike to herd some of his 11,000 sheep... Last week Mr Elliott discovered the second nearby."
  • "Outback grazier discovers rare meteorites" (13 July) ABC Australia news item:  "Two rare meteorites weighing almost 30 kilograms have been found on a sheep and cattle property near Winton in Queensland's central west." Note: See also an item at News.com.au.

5-18
July
2006
Pan-STARRS PS-1 prototype
  • "EOS-built telescope" (89Kb PDF) (18 July) Electro Optic Systems news release:  "[The] telescope and its enclosure were built at the company’s manufacturing plants in Queanbeyan [NSW] and in Tucson, Arizona."
  • "Corning-made 'eye' to watch over Earth" (9 July) Elmira, N.Y. Star-Gazette column
  • "Telescope to deliver detailed scan of sky" (8 July) Honolulu, Hawaii Star-Bulletin article:  "'We don't expect to have any really exciting results until about September,' [PI Nicholas] Kaiser said. 'What we have at the moment is enough equipment so we can test out the telescope and really start commissioning the system.'"
  • "New Telescope Dedicated on Haleakala" (5 July) U.H. Institute for Astronomy news release:  "The University of Hawaii's newest telescope, called PS1, was dedicated on Friday, June 30 in a ceremony on the summit of Haleakala. The telescope is a prototype for the larger Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, or Pan-STARRS... PS1 achieved 'first light' in late June." Note: This news release is also available from the University of Hawaii.
  • Pan-STARRS 1 Dedication page
  • Pan-STARRS home
  • See also June news links.

17
July
2006
Life & work at Cerro Paranal -- BBC article:  "'The stability of the climate here helps make the VLT the most productive visible-light observatory in the world,' says VLT astronomer Olivier Hainaut... [The] telescopes either operate independently or together as an array, their light combined together to provide maximum angular resolution equivalent to a single 200m telescope, theoretically sufficient to detect an astronaut on the Moon."

15
July
2006
Planetary defense proposal -- London, England Guardian article:  "Scientists at the French space agency, CNES, have calculated how to capture an asteroid [to be] flung into the path of a larger asteroid that threatens to collide with Earth." Note: See also a June 20th article at Space.com.

14
July
2006
New Horizons news -- New Horizons' "The PI's Perspective":  Brief results from June's 2002 JF56 flyby and news of a stellar occultation by Pluto observed June 12th from Australia and New Zealand: "I can say without reservation that Pluto's atmosphere 'hasn't collapsed yet' [but its] lower atmosphere seems to have undergone some kind of change in its haze content or thermal properties since the 1980s."

10-12
July
2006
Norwegian meteorite claim
  • "Meteorite doubts emerge" (12 July) Aftenposten article:  "Now an expert at the National History Museum in Oslo says he thinks it's just an ordinary earthly rock."
  • "Another meteorite hits Norway" (10 July) Aftenposten article:  "A meteorite weighing around two kilos landed right in the yard outside Bjorn Herigstad's home in coastal Jaeren, western Norway, over the weekend."
    Note: This article refers to the June 7th northern Norway event.

11
July
2006
Big pallasite on display -- Hutchinson, Kansas News article:  "The Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center's rock display doubled Monday with the addition of the Arnold meteorite ... through August."

10
July
2006
Meteorites on Mars -- NASA/JPL news image:  "From its winter outpost at 'Low Ridge' inside Gusev Crater, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit took this spectacular, color mosaic of hilly, sandy terrain and two potential iron meteorites."
Saskatchewan crater candidate -- Thunder Sword Resources, Inc. news release:  Geophysical surveying of Kercher Lake finds "a very circular crater-like structure" described as being 190 km. southeast of the "Carswell Lake meteorite impact structure" in the Athabasca Basin of northern Saskachewan.

8
July
2006
Haviland meteorite festival -- Wichita, Kansas Eagle article:  "Several hundred people turned out Saturday in Haviland to gaze at meteorites in the city's first meteorite festival... [It] featured Steve Arnold, who made worldwide news last fall when he found a 1,400-pound meteorite in a field west of Haviland."
June 2nd north-central North American event -- Grand Forks, N.D. Herald column:  At the Manitoba Museum, "Scott Young has collected about 600 reports from people who observed the fireball... [He has] deduced that the fireball was a chunk of a comet and was made of ice. So there's probably no chance that anything will be found on the ground." Note: See also June news links.
Illinois meteorites -- La Salle, Ill. NewsTribune article:  "According to [Randy] Korotev, only nine meteorites have ever been confirmed in Illinois... The process to have a meteorite verified could take up to a year because of the sheer number of requests laboratories have to fulfill."

6
July
2006
Southern Utah telescope funded -- Univ. of Utah news release:  "Utah physicists hope the telescope site might become what they call the High Altitude Southern Utah Astronomical Observatory, drawing other new telescopes, particularly with urban light pollution impairing existing telescopes in Arizona, and native and environmental groups challenging observatories in Arizona, Hawaii and New Mexico. [Dave] Kieda says Utah was considered for national astronomical facilities in the 1950s, but lost to Kitt Peak in Arizona... Compared with great observatories, a 32-inch telescope is small. Yet Kieda says that with the same kind of optical telescope, astronomers have searched for asteroids that fly near Earth [etc.]" Note: News release also available on EurekAlert.

3
July
2006
2004 XP14's close passage July 2-3
  • "Asteroid Flyby Caught!" (undated) Sky & Telescope news item
  • "Asteroid misses Earth by narrow margin" (3 July) Australian ABC radio program "The World Today" transcript:  "Over the past week, Australian astronomers Rob McNaught and Gordon Garradd have scanned the skies to analyse the approaching asteroid. The two men are the only professional astronomers in the southern hemisphere looking for hazards from deep space."
  • "Planet safe from asteroid...for now" (3 July) News.com.au article:  "Rob McNaught [in] recent days ... has been monitoring [2004 XP14] from his base at Siding Spring, at Coonabarabran, in northwestern NSW." Note: This article has been carried by many Australian news outlets under various headlines.
  • See also A/CC's 2004 XP14 page and 2004 XP14 June news links.
Possible impact crater -- Wichita, Kansas Eagle article:  "Don Stimpson thinks he has found a new meteorite crater in a Kiowa County field [and possibly] the largest pallasite ever found [found with landowner Paul Ross]... The Brenham meteorites, named for Brenham Township near Haviland, fell some 20,000 years ago."
Note: See also a July 7th item at Dodge City, Kansas KBSD-TV with linked video.

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