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  1. #1201
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    Blog | UFO news, disclosure and the demise of a great newspaper
    Cheryl Costa, Syracuse New Times | 26 August 2019


    In the spring of 2013, I walked into the office of Syracuse New Times editor-in-chief Larry Dietrich. We had a 20-minute conversation about UFOs, and at the end of the chat he invited me to show him five PowerPoint Pitch slides. Afterward, he agreed to try my New York Skies UFO blog-column for a month. At the end of the month, he told me I was doing great and to keep doing what I was doing.

    Since that time, I have authored more than 250 articles focused on UFO sightings, history, sighting statistics, and of course, the topic of disclosure. The Syracuse New Times will be closing with a final issue on Wednesday, June 26, 2019.

    Over the past two years, we in the UFO community have witnessed a slow drip of disclosure information. On Jan. 19, 2017, The New York Times published a story about the CIA declassifying millions of documents and posting them with the National Archives. Among those archives was a quantity of UFO-related materials.

    On April 24, 2017, The New York Times published a story about two ladies in Syracuse who had done statistical research about UFO sightings and published an all-encompassing book on the topic. That book was UFO Sightings Desk Reference: United States of America 2001-2015. The authors were my wife Linda and I. The New York Times was impressed with the 121,000 UFO sightings analyzed in the book.

    On Dec. 16, 2017, The New York Times and Politico broke the big story that the Pentagon had a secret program called AATIP (Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program), which was studying UFO/UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) that were buzzing the naval fleets of the world. After that, it seemed to be a constant drip of information.

    Then in May 2019, it was like somebody turned on a faucet. Suddenly, leak after leak and revelation after revelation, the truth started coming out in stronger doses and with more credible sources.

    The smart money says that 2019 is going to be the Year of Disclosure.

    I think the bittersweet truth is that this newspaper is closing and I won’t be reporting the news of the impending story of the disclosure in the Syracuse New Times online edition and perhaps in its printed edition.

    A thousand thanks to William C. Brod, publisher/CEO for supporting the New York Skies project.

    I wish to thank my editors-in-chief Larry Dietrich and Bill DeLapp for supporting this journalist effort. As well my many thanks to my gracious digital editors over the six years of this blog/column: Ty Marshal, David Armelino and Kira Maddox.

    What’s next for me?

    Linda and I hope to publish an updated and more extensive edition of our UFO Sightings Desk Reference.

    Interestingly, the two of us might be involved with the production of a new national television program about UFOs. Who knows: We might be coming to a television network that you well know in the not-too-distant future.

    To the readers of New York Skies, wherever in the world you are, thanks for being fans!
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    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Loud 'boom' reported across Central New York was probably a fireball entering Earth's atmosphere
    Kendall Trammell, CNN | 2:13 PM ET, Tue September 3, 2019


    (CNN) People living in Central New York who reported hearing a loud, fearful boom on Monday night can rest relatively easily -- it was likely just a fiery rock from the far flung reaches of outer space.

    The American Meteor Society said on Tuesday that witness reports of a "boom," which was accompanied by a bright streak of light across the sky, was likely a large fireball entering the Earth's atmosphere over Lake Ontario.

    "I was standing in the driveway facing North when the burning object passed above the trees from east to west," one witness said. "It lasted a second or so and had a trail behind it. A few minutes later, I heard a very loud boom."

    Mike Hankey, operations manager of the non-profit meteor astronomy organization, told CNN that they "got a lot of emails from people about the boom," and that "it seemed significant."

    "What they were seeing was the light produced by the object colliding with the atmosphere," Hankey explained, noting that there was typically a 1-2 minute delay between the sound and the visual reports, because sound travels slower than light.

    Some of the witnesses described Monday's fireball as a bright, fast streak that appeared across the blue sky for a short, few seconds, before it disappeared behind the clouds. It was followed by an explosive sound.

    Another witness told the AMS that it sounded like they were "standing an inch away from the biggest firework possible being let off."

    "It was so loud, my house shook, I felt it in my chest and had me stand still for a moment in panic," they said. "I got ready to load my children up with our emergency bags because I thought the power plant 12 miles away from me blew up.

    So far, the group hasn't received any reports of damage.

    A fireball is brighter and larger meteor that rockets from a vacuum of space at speeds up to 10s of 1000s of miles per hour. It can explode when it collides with the denser atmosphere, creating a sonic boom it occurs close enough to the surface.

    The majority of fireballs are only visible for a few seconds and are rare "once in a lifetime" events, according to AMS' website.

    The AMS and its international partners receive about 20,000 fireball reports every year.

    Hankey said it can be difficult to confirm these events.

    Some of the information astronomers consider includes whether or not the pointing direction of witnesses agree, the duration of the event and the reports of booms as well as their locations.

    As for Monday night, the majority of reports came from people who live between Rochester and Syracuse. They all reported a duration ranging from 1.5 - 3.5 seconds.
    __________________________

    I used video from Channel 9 ABC WSYR Syracuse, NY to spice the post. - ilan
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    If we find alien life, can we avoid harming it?
    Erica Naone, Astronomy | Thursday, September 5, 2019

    Extraterrestrial microbes might need protection from humans trying to learn about them. And although some outlines already exist, we still have many ethical details to flesh out.


    Subsurface water on Jupiter's moon Europa is one place humans plan to search for life. This artist's concept shows a massive plume of underground water erupting from the moon's surface.
    As humans explore the solar system, the tantalizing possibility of discovering extraterrestrial life continues to pop up. But the goal of most scientists is to discover existing life on another world, not to accidentally bring it there from Earth. Whether travelers are robotic probes or human astronauts, scientists are increasingly faced with the challenge of preventing the contamination of alien environments. But if we uncover still-evolving alien life on another world, can we even justify going there?

    Scientific and ethical questions

    There are both important scientific and ethical reasons why cross-contaminating another planet or asteroid doesn't sit well with many.

    Scientifically, “you don’t want to find yourself in the position of equivocating about whether you found something left behind by a previous probe versus something which truly represents a separate generation of life,” says James H. Beall, a senior consultant in the Space Sciences Division at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., and a member of the faculty at St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland.

    That’s not to dismiss the ethical concerns, though. Beall says that should humans find signs of extraterrestrial life, we will have to face tests about whether we’re there for exploitation, preservation, or a mixture of both that's more akin to animal husbandry.

    “The way in which these kinds of things [extraterrestrial life] are kept by us and preserved by us — whether they reveal the original state and original evolutionary paths — is very important," he says. "Not just from a scientific point of view, but also as far as the kind of regard we ought to have for the remarkable complexity of the world."

    Though no extraterrestrial microbial life has yet been found, Beall says, “Evolution seems to take place on almost any environment on Earth where it can.” The presence of extremophiles — organisms that thrive in difficult environments such as the high-pressured waters of the Mariana Trench or the desiccated sands of the Atacama Desert — suggests that life can evolve and prosper in surprising places.

    What’s to say that couldn’t also be the case beyond Earth? Microbes might be the cause of methane on Mars. They might explain the mysterious behavior of the unknown absorbers in Venus’ atmosphere. Or perhaps microorganisms inhabit the subsurface ocean of Europa. For this reason, we already take some precautions to avoid polluting other worlds with Earth-based life, such as decontaminating rovers and landers before they venture out into the solar system. But is that really enough?
    Last edited by ilan; 09-06-2019 at 11:42 AM.
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    Will the Webb telescope be able to detect life signs at nearby exoplanets?
    Paul Scott Anderson in SPACE | September 2, 2019

    The Webb Telescope is Hubble’s successor, due to launch in 2021. A new study says it’ll be powerful enough to search for life signatures in the atmospheres of the 7 Earth-sized planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system, just 39 light-years away.


    Artist’s concept of the James Webb Space Telescope as it’ll appear once it’s launched to Earth-orbit in 2021. Want to see how the actual telescope looks now? See the bottom of this post. Image via Northrop Grumman/JWST.
    Only 39 light-years from Earth – right next door, cosmically-speaking – there’s a solar system with seven Earth-sized rocky planets. The system is called TRAPPIST-1. All of its seven planets are intriguing, and three of them orbit in their star’s habitable zone, where temperatures could allow liquid water to exist on them.

    These worlds have been the subject of much study in the past few years, but there are limits to what current telescopes can learn more about them. What’s more, there’s been a debate about whether the James Webb Space Telescope – Hubble’s successor, scheduled for launch in March of 2021 – will be powerful enough to detect life signs at the distance of these Earth-sized planets, if indeed life signs do exist there. But now a new study says, yes, the Webb will be able to analyze their atmospheres for biosignatures. What’s more, the study says, this analysis could be done in only a year, although clouds in the planets’ atmospheres might pose a problem.

    The new paper was first published on June 21, 2019 in The Astronomical Journal, and the study was led by Jacob Lustig-Yaeger, an astronomy student at the University of Washington.

    According to Lustig-Yaeger:

    The Webb telescope has been built, and we have an idea how it will operate. We used computer modeling to determine the most efficient way to use the telescope to answer the most basic question we’ll want to ask, which is: Are there even atmospheres on these planets, or not?

    All seven of the known planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system are rocky, and of a similar size to Earth. They all orbit close to their star, but since the star a red dwarf and cooler than the sun, that means that three of the planets are still in the star’s habitable zone, where temperatures could make liquid water possible, depending on other factors such as type of atmosphere. It is expected that most or all of the planets have atmospheres, but that isn’t known for certain yet. The Webb telescope will be able to confirm that, and analyze those atmospheres for possible biosignatures, gases like oxygen or methane that could indicate life on the surfaces. According to Lustig-Yaeger:

    There is a big question in the field right now whether these planets even have atmospheres, especially the innermost planets. Once we have confirmed that there are atmospheres, then what can we learn about each planet’s atmosphere, the molecules that make it up?

    The study suggests that the Webb telescope should be able to detect and analyze any atmospheres fairly quickly, in a year or so. Since the planets are all close to their star, that means their transit times – the time it takes for a planet to cross in front of its star from our viewpoint – are relatively short. The Webb should be able to confirm the atmospheres (or not) in 10 transits or less.

    This does also, however, depend on whether those atmospheres have clouds. If a planet had a thick cloudy atmosphere like Venus, it could take up to 30 transits to confirm it. So the Webb telescope could still do it, it would just take longer, Lustig-Yaeger said:

    But that is still an achievable goal. It means that even in the case of realistic high-altitude clouds, the James Webb telescope will still be capable of detecting the presence of atmospheres, which before our paper was not known.

    The James Webb Space Telescope’s capability of detecting the atmospheres of smaller rocky planets is exciting, since other telescopes haven’t been able to yet. It’s a lot easier with gas giant planets like Jupiter, but difficult with smaller planets when they are so far away.

    Another possibility is that the Webb will find evidence of water that the planets lost when the system was much younger and the star was much hotter. In such cases, an atmosphere could contain abiotic oxygen – not created by life – that might be a false positive signal of active biology. Scientists would need to determine if the oxygen is biotic or abiotic.

    The James Webb Space Telescope will be invaluable for studying rocky planets like Earth, astronomers say, and many more of these rocky worlds are being discovered all the time in the vast space of our Milky Way galaxy. It is estimated that there are billions of such worlds in our galaxy alone, and the Webb might provide the first compelling evidence for life on one (or more) of them. Even if it doesn’t, though, it will help to revolutionize our understanding of these planets. As noted by astronomy doctoral student Andrew Lincowski:

    By doing this study, we have looked at: What are the best-case scenarios for the James Webb Space Telescope? What is it going to be capable of doing? Because there are definitely going to be more Earth-sized planets found before it launches in 2021.

    The TRAPPIST-1 planetary system is unique among such systems as known so far, with seven Earth-sized exoplanets. Could any of them have life? They are ideal candidates for further study by the Webb, which may be able to help answer that intriguing question in the relatively near future. As Lustig-Yaeger added:

    It’s hard to conceive in theory of a planetary system better suited for James Webb than TRAPPIST-1.



    Last edited by ilan; 09-07-2019 at 02:52 PM.
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  5. #1205
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    India still trying to contact its lost Moon lander
    Hailey Rose McLaughlin, Astronomy | Published: Monday, September 9, 2019

    The Virkam lander lost contact with Earth just as it neared touchdown on the moon


    This was the view on computer screens at the Chandrayaan-2 mission control center in Bengaluru, India, just minutes before space scientists lost communications with the Vikram lander on Saturday. Image via ISRO/Space.com.
    The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) isn’t giving up hope for its lost lunar lander just yet. The space agency will keep trying to establish contact with the Virkam lander for 14 days, according to the Times of India.

    On September 6, the spacecraft was scheduled to have a soft landing in the Moon’s south pole region. But as it neared the one-mile marker above the surface, communication cut out with mission control in India. The lander hasn’t been heard from since, and engineers suspect Virkam hit the surface much harder than anticipated.

    Chandrayaan-2 was intended to be a multi-part mission, and a follow-up to India’s first lunar mission, Chandrayaan-1. In this latest attempt to study the Moon, India was focused on the south pole region, launching an orbiter, the Virkam lander, and a rover named Pragyan on July 22.

    Early in the landing sequence last week, everything in the control room seemed to be going as planned. But as the lander approached the surface, expressions of tense frustration and confusion broke out on the faces in the room. The phrase, “the data is being analyzed,” was said over and over, but the outcome seemed bleak.

    Over the weekend, ISRO announced that the orbiter had caught sight of the lander. The photos have not yet been released, but according to ISRO’s chief, Kailasavadivoo Sivan, the lander has been seen near the targeted landing site and apparently in one piece. The extent of the damage to the lander and the rover inside are not yet known.

    As part of the Chandrayaan-2 operation, the orbiter will continue to study the south pole region of the Moon. In a statement from ISRO, officials said the lunar orbiter will now be operational for seven years. The rover was only set to last for a couple weeks. However, it would provide new information on the Moon’s scarcely-explored south pole region.
    Last edited by ilan; 09-09-2019 at 11:42 PM.
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    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Shedding light on black holes
    EarthSky in Space | September 11, 2019

    How much of what think you know about black holes is true, and how much is myth? To separate fact from fiction, check out this 4-minute video from NASA.




    ____________________________

    Always fun to get more lowdown on black holes, especially when it is done in a user-friendly fashion. - ilan
    Last edited by ilan; 09-11-2019 at 12:08 PM.
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  7. #1207
    Super Modz crazed 8.4's Avatar
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    great little vid ... thnx
    pepisee

  8. #1208
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Welcome, Crazed!
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    Scientists detect towering balloon-like structure near Milky Way’s center
    Deborah Byrd in SPACE | September 11, 2019

    It’s a huge bipolar gas structure, hundreds of light-years across, centered on our galaxy’s center and near the galaxy’s central supermassive black hole. Astronomers found it with the new, supersensitive MeerKAT telescope in South Africa.

    The complex radio emission from the galactic center, as imaged by the South African MeerKAT radio telescope. The newly-discovered giant radio bubbles are the structures running top to bottom in this image. Image via SARAO/Oxford.
    Our Milky Way is considered to be a relatively quiescent galaxy, and yet – at its heart – it’s known to have a 4-million-solar-mass black hole: the source of many fascinating and dynamic processes. Yesterday – September 11, 2019 – astronomers announced the discovery in that region of what they’re calling “one of the largest features ever observed” in the center of the Milky Way. This feature is a pair of enormous radio-emitting bubbles, towering above and below the central region of our galaxy. Scientists described it as hourglass-shaped. The entire structure stretches some 1,400 light-years, or about 5% of the distance between our sun and the galaxy’s center.

    This new discovery was announced today in the journal Nature, which also published the initial study of the feature. They said in a statement that it:

    … dwarfs all other radio structures in the galactic center [and] is likely the result of a phenomenally energetic burst that erupted near the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole a few million years ago.

    In other words, said these scientists, they believe features have formed from a violent eruption, presumably emanating from the vicinity of the galactic center and its supermassive black hole, which – over a short period of time – punched through the interstellar medium in opposite directions. As explained in Nature:

    The bubbles are gas structures that can be observed because electrons stirring inside them produce radio waves as they are accelerated by magnetic fields.
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    Astronomer spots possible new interstellar visitor in our solar system
    Ashley Strickland, CNN | September 12, 2019

    Astronomers believe Comet C/2019 Q4 could be the second known interstellar visitor to our solar system. It was first spotted on August 30 and imaged by the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope on Hawaii's Big Island on September 10, 2019.
    (CNN) Almost two years after the first interstellar visitor was detected in our solar system, astronomers believe they've found one that's incoming, according to NASA. The first object, known as 'Oumuamua, was found in October 2017. Interstellar means that the object originated from outside of our solar system.

    On August 30, Gennady Borisov spotted a new comet while at the MARGO observatory in Crimea.

    After this initial observation, the Scout system at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory also flagged the object as possibly originating from outside of our solar system. Scout assesses recently found objects from the Minor Planet Center for hazards and potential trajectories.

    Follow-up observations of the comet ensued, including Davide Farnocchia at NASA's Center for Near-Earth Object Studies and the European Space Agency's Near-Earth Object Coordination Center.

    The object, now known as C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) hasn't officially been confirmed to have an origin point outside of our solar system.

    But we'll get a chance to know the comet better soon. It's heading for the inner part of our solar system and will enter it on October 26. To look at it right now through telescopes from our vantage point on Earth, it appears close to the sun. It will be visible through professional telescopes for months.

    The comet is making its way toward our sun. The closest it will come to Earth is a distance of 190 million miles. Currently, it's 260 million miles away from our sun and will make its closest approach on December 8.

    "The comet's current velocity is high, about 93,000 mph, which is well above the typical velocities of objects orbiting the Sun at that distance," said Farnocchia. "The high velocity indicates not only that the object likely originated from outside our solar system, but also that it will leave and head back to interstellar space."

    The object was designated as a comet because it appears fuzzy. Comets tend to look fuzzy because they're icy and release dust and particles as they heat up on approach to the sun.

    'Oumuamua only had a quick visit with us in 2017. This comet's stay should be a bit longer.

    "The object will peak in brightness in mid-December and continue to be observable with moderate-size telescopes until April 2020," said Farnocchia. "After that, it will only be observable with larger professional telescopes through October 2020."

    Researchers who detected and confirmed 'Oumuamua have also observed the comet, including Karen Meech and her colleagues at the University of Hawaii.

    For now, they believe the comet is anywhere between 1.2 and 10 miles in diameter. Future observations will shed more light on its size, rotation and path.
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