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  1. #1181
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    Suspected meteorite crashes into rice field in India
    Manveena Suri and Helen Regan, CNN, Updated 3:06 AM ET, Fri July 26, 2019


    Villagers and farmers pose around the crater of a suspected meteorite that crashed in a field at Mahadeva village in the Indian eastern state of Bihar.
    (CNN) A suspected meteorite about the size of a football has crashed into a paddy field in a village in eastern India.

    The rock, which landed in Mahadeva village in Bihar, weighed nearly 13 kilograms and was found to have magnetic properties, the state's Chief Minister's office said in a statement.

    Images show villagers standing around a huge muddy crater believed to have been caused by the object.

    The rock is currently on display at the Bihar Museum, but will be transferred to the Srikrishna Science Center, in Bihar, for analysis that will confirm if it is a meteorite, said Bihar's Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

    Though they can look like a normal rock, meteorites are often heavier and have a burned exterior which can appear shiny -- they also have magnetic content.

    "Meteorites are of great interest to researchers as studying them helps us to understand the formation and evolution of the solar system," Steven Ehlert at NASA's Meteroid Office recently told CNN.

    According to NASA, meteoroids are essentially "space rocks" -- chunks of comets or asteroids orbiting the sun in space. They become meteors -- or shooting stars -- when they enter the Earth's atmosphere and burn up. Meteorites make it through the atmosphere and land on the Earth's surface.

    On Wednesday, a fireball bright enough to rival the moon lit up the skies over southern Ontario and Quebec, with experts saying meteorite fragments from the fireball likely made it to the ground.

    In 2013, a meteor blast shook Russia's Urals region. Buildings lost windows and walls tumbled as the sonic wave from the explosion reverberated through the region, reportedly injuring 1,000 people.
    Last edited by ilan; 07-30-2019 at 05:55 PM.
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  2. #1182
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Going out with a bang, not a whimper, Eta Carinae continues to amaze
    Staff, Astronomy Now | 30 July 2019

    A new image of Eta Carinae by the Hubble Space Telescope reveals the unexpected ultraviolet glow of magnesium embedded in warm gas (shown in blue). The observations may shed light on the sequence of events that led to the “Great Eruption” in the mid 1800s. Image: NASA, ESA, N. Smith (University of Arizona), and J. Morse (BoldlyGo Institute)
    The Hubble Space Telescope has provided another remarkable view of Eta Carinae, one of the galaxy’s most massive stars as it continues a cosmic fireworks show, a slow-motion train wreck that may end with a cataclysmic supernova blast in the astronomically near future.

    The show began 170 years ago when the star suddenly and dramatically brightened in an 18-year-long event now known as the “Great Eruption.” Becoming the second brightest star in the sky for more than a decade, Eta Carinae eventually faded from view, now and then brightening and dimming.

    One possible explanation for the Great Eruption is that the largest member of a triple star system, one with more than 150 times the mass of the Sun, swallowed a smaller companion, throwing out two huge lobes of gas and dust that give the system its iconic appearance.

    The star remains on an apparent path toward supernova, and Hubble’s latest image reveals the ultraviolet glow of magnesium between the lobes expanding to either side of the central binary and the regions just beyond the bubbles where nitrogen filaments are heated by shock waves.

    “We’ve discovered a large amount of warm gas that was ejected in the Great Eruption but hasn’t yet collided with the other material surrounding Eta Carinae,” said Nathan Smith, lead investigator of the Hubble program. “Most of the emission is located where we expected to find an empty cavity. This extra material is fast, and it ‘ups the ante’ in terms of the total energy for an already powerful stellar blast.”

    Hubble has studied Eta Carinae for decades in visible and infrared light, “and we thought we had a pretty full accounting of its ejected debris,” Smith said.

    “But this new ultraviolet-light image looks astonishingly different, revealing gas we did not see in other visible-light or infrared images. We’re excited by the prospect that this type of ultraviolet magnesium emission may also expose previously hidden gas in other types of objects that eject material, such as protostars or other dying stars. Only Hubble can take these kinds of pictures.”
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  3. #1183
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    An asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building is passing by Earth next week. Here's why you shouldn't be worried
    Leah Asmelash and David G Allan, CNN | Updated 6:22 PM ET, Thu August 1, 2019


    (CNN) Yes, there's an asteroid bigger than the Empire State building passing by Earth. No, it's not anything to worry about -- it's actually pretty normal.

    Asteroid 2006 QQ23 is scheduled to zoom by Earth on August 10 and, at an estimated diameter of up to 1,870 feet, it's easy to see why people are worried.

    But Lindley Johnson and Kelly Fast of NASA's Planetary Defense Coordination Office say there's nothing to fear. Both Johnson and Fast help track what they label as "near Earth objects," such as asteroids and comets that orbit our sun along with the other planets.

    Tracking these objects is mainly a defense mechanism, to ensure none are anywhere close to hitting Earth.

    And, as far as Asteroid 2006 QQ23 goes, Johnson said it's a moderate-sized asteroid, and it's nearly 5 million miles away. It's "more or less benign," he said.

    Asteroids around this size pass by Earth about a half dozen times a year, Johnson said. Asteroid 2006 QQ23 is less than a mile long, but the biggest known asteroid that orbits our sun is about 21 miles long, though asteroids of that size are rare.

    There are nearly 900 asteroids in our solar system bigger than Asteroid 2006 QQ23

    NASA's Near Earth Object Observations Program, of which both Johnson and Fast are a part, has cataloged nearly 900 asteroids around Earth that have a diameter of more than 1 kilometer, or about 3,281 feet.

    As asteroids decrease in size, they become more frequent, but our atmosphere typically burns the smaller ones out. That doesn't mean they can't do some damage, though. In 2013, a meteor 55-feet in diameter broke through the Earth's atmosphere over Russia. Though there wasn't an impact, the blast still injured more than 1,000 people.

    If something the size of Asteroid 2006 QQ23 hit Earth, it could devastate a statewide area.

    But impact is rare, occurring maybe once every two or three centuries, according to Johnson. And NASA does have the technology to find these asteroids and track when they will pass closely by Earth. They've tracked Asteroid 2006 QQ23's orbit data beginning in 1901 all the way to 2200, for example.

    If, however, an asteroid was coming toward Earth that posed a threat and the agency had enough warning and capability, NASA would launch a space campaign to deflect the asteroid onto a different path.

    Fast said the team hasn't found anything so far that has a significant chance of hitting Earth, but there may be asteroids in the system that the team hasn't found and cataloged yet.

    "It's the ones we don't know about that we're concerned about," she said.
    Last edited by ilan; 08-02-2019 at 11:44 AM.
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  4. #1184
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    No, an Asteroid Won't Hit Earth on Sept. 9 and Here's Why
    Passant Rabie, Science & Technology | 2 August 2019

    That's one less asteroid for Earth to worry about.


    The area in the sky where astronomers would have spotted the asteroid 2006 QV89 if it was on a collision course with Earth,
    with the three crosses marking the specific locations. (Image: © ESO)
    A potentially hazardous asteroid that had a small chance of smashing into Earth this September isn't heading for our planet after all.

    Astronomers ruled out the asteroid's chance of impact with Earth after they were not able to spot it within the area of its predicted collision course, making it the first time an asteroid impact was ruled out based on "non-detection."

    The asteroid, named 2006 QV89, was discovered on Aug. 29, 2006 by the Catalina Sky Survey near Tucson, Arizona. It measures between 70 to 160 feet (20 to 50 meters) in diameter, or somewhere between the length of a bowling alley and the width of a football field. Observations suggested that it had a one-in-7,000 chance of impacting Earth on Sept. 9, 2019.

    After its discovery in 2016, the asteroid was observed for 10 days before disappearing from the astronomers' sight, according to a statement by the European Southern Observatory (ESO). As the date for the potential collision approached, astronomers could only predict the location of the asteroid with very low accuracy, which made it difficult to locate with a telescope.

    In order to confirm whether or not the asteroid was still headed for collision with Earth, astronomers at the European Space Agency (ESA) and ESO took a different approach. Rather than trying to observe the asteroid itself, astronomers observed where it should have been if it were, in fact, heading toward Earth.

    Using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT), they captured deep images of the area where it would have been if it were on track to collide with our planet, ESO officials said in the statement. Following observations of the area on July 4-5, astronomers could not find the asteroid and therefore concluded that it would not be impacting Earth.

    Even if the asteroid is smaller than initially believed, it would have been spotted by the telescope, ESO said in the statement. And if it were any smaller than that — too small for the telescope to detect — it would pose no threat to Earth, as it would burn up in the planet's atmosphere.
    ________________________________

    Lots of asteroid/meteor news lately. Thankfully, none of it has been threatening! - ilan
    Last edited by ilan; 08-11-2019 at 05:12 PM.
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  5. #1185
    Moderator at Work ilan's Avatar
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    Albireo, beloved double star
    Bruce McClure in ASTRONOMY ESSENTIALS | BRIGHTEST STARS | August 4, 2019

    Albireo is known best for the striking color contrast between its two stars – the brighter gold star and the dimmer blue star.


    Albireo, one star blue and the other golden. Photo via Tom Wildoner.

    Albireo – also called Beta Cygni – isn’t the brightest star in the sky. It looks like an ordinary single star to the eye. But peer at it through a telescope, and you’ll learn why stargazers love Albireo. With a telescope, you’ll easily see Albireo as a beautiful double star, with the brighter star gold and the dimmer star blue.

    How can you see Albireo as two stars? They are best viewed at 30X (“30 power” or a magnification of 30). Unless you have exceedingly powerful binoculars, mounted on a tripod, binoculars won’t show you Albireo as two stars, but any small telescope will. When you do see Albireo as two stars, notice the striking color contrast between the two.

    How can you spot Albireo in the night sky? It’s easy to find, if you can locate Cygnus the Swan. Cygnus has an easy-to-recognize shape, that of a cross, and the constellation is also known as the Northern Cross. The brightest star in Cygnus, called Deneb, marks the head of the Cross or the Tail of the Swan. Albireo marks the base of the Cross or the Head of Cygnus.


    The constellation Cygnus the Swan. The bright star Deneb is in the Tail of Cygnus,
    while Albireo is at the Head of the Swan. Albireo represents the Swan’s Beak or Eye.
    Image via Constellation of Words.

    The two stars of Albireo constitute a true binary star system. In other words, its two stars aren’t merely a chance alignment as seen from Earth. Instead, they revolve around a common center of mass.
    Last edited by ilan; 08-05-2019 at 10:45 PM.
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  6. #1186
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    Many UFO Sightings Reported in Western Pennsylvania, US
    Associated Press, Wire Service Content | 4, 2019, at 12:51 p.m.

    While the Kecksburg UFO sighting has become a quaint part of local lore, more recent reports of unexplained aerial phenomena are getting serious attention from Congress, the U.S. military and longtime UFO watchers.


    BY STEPHEN HUBA, Tribune-Review

    PITTSBURGH (AP) — While the Kecksburg UFO sighting has become a quaint part of local lore, more recent reports of unexplained aerial phenomena are getting serious attention from Congress, the U.S. military and longtime UFO watchers.

    "It's not going away," said retired journalist Bob Gatty. "Whether you believe or don't believe in this stuff, the fact remains there is a lot happening for some reason."

    Gatty, who originally reported on the Kecksburg incident for the Tribune-Review in 1965, recently noted on his blog NotFakeNews.biz that the Navy has issued new guidelines to fighter pilots regarding UFO sightings, and members of Congress are seeking more frequent briefings on the subject.

    "Congress apparently is taking this stuff — at least the Navy reports — seriously," said Gatty, 76, a former Sykesville, Jefferson County, resident who lives in Myrtle Beach, S.C.

    Meanwhile, longtime local UFO researcher Stan Gordon said there has been a "surge" in sightings of unexplained phenomena in western Pennsylvania — whether extraterrestrial or not.

    "We keep getting reports of very strange things that people see around here," said Gordon, 69, of Greensburg. "We've had a surge of UFO and Bigfoot activity in the area in the last couple of weeks. Many of these sightings are very detailed reports."

    While sightings usually spike in the spring and summer, when people are outside more, reports in 2018 and 2019 have been more consistently year-round, he said. Sightings are mostly of unexplained things in the sky or of earthbound cryptids — animals such as Bigfoot, whose existence is unsubstantiated.

    Gordon has spent the past 54 years investigating the Kecksburg incident, when on Dec. 9, 1965, people across six states and Canada reported seeing a fireball streak across the sky before crashing into a wooded area in Mt. Pleasant Township.

    Though other sightings don't get the attention of Kecksburg, Gordon says they still persist — and they get documented on his website StanGordon.info. He first set up a hotline to report sightings in Pennsylvania in 1969.

    "In all the years I've done this, I've never seen (a UFO or Bigfoot) myself, but I've interviewed thousands of witnesses," he said. "Every year . we're getting very detailed reports from credible people that you cannot easily dismiss."

    Upon investigation, many "sightings" end up having either natural or man-made causes — a bear or a large, shaggy dog or a hunter wearing camouflage, he said. Most end up on the growing repository of unexplained phenomena, with no conclusive explanation.

    Gordon's website documents mostly Pennsylvania sightings — the most recent one in June near the Youngstown side of Chestnut Ridge. The National UFO Reporting Center in Harrington, Wash., documents sightings from across the United States, Canada, the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

    The center's website, NUFORC.org, ranks Pennsylvania seventh in total UFO sightings (3,937 reported, dating to 1947) and notes that sightings so far this year (84) nearly equal the total number for 2018. Among the most recent was an anonymous report from Greensburg.

    The report was of unidentifiable lights moving slowly, perfectly spaced apart, and of a red/orange round object or cylinder moving east and west, according to NUFORC. The sighting around 10 p.m. July 5 lasted six minutes.

    Other recent sightings in the region reported to NUFORC include:

    . July 4 — An orange-red sphere spotted around 10 p.m. in both Erie and Cecil, Washington County.

    . June 28 — A person reported seeing a shiny silver disc or saucer overhead in Mt. Lebanon at 8:35 p.m. After about 15 minutes, it disappeared.

    . June 23 — An Elizabeth resident reported seeing five amber-colored, circular shapes move in all directions in the sky and then form an arrowhead shape before disappearing after about 4 minutes.

    Peter Davenport, NUFORC director, has been collecting such data for 25 years.

    "All you need is one good report to tell you what's going on," he said, noting that credible reports in the United States date to at least the 1940s and '50s.

    In 2004, Davenport presented a paper to the Mutual UFO Network on the use of "passive radar" for detecting UFOs in the near-earth environment. "If that signal were to strike an anomalous target . it would be reflected back down to ground level. We can use that for detecting anomalous targets," he said.

    Davenport said his proposal reached the Central Intelligence Agency and garnered a complimentary response from a CIA agent. He also has met with FBI agents, who "were obviously very interested in some of the data" on the NUFORC website.

    Notwithstanding the wealth of credible reports, Davenport said solving the mystery of UFOs will require "a government that still serves the people. The government has known about the UFO phenomenon for a long time."

    Unverified sightings from civilians are one thing, but sightings by Navy fighter pilots have reached the highest echelons of the U.S. government, according to To the Stars Academy of Arts & Science, or TTSA, a public benefit corporation that seeks to advance public understanding and government research of unexplained aerial phenomena.

    Former Pentagon intelligence official Christopher Mellon, an adviser to TTSA, wrote in the Washington Post in 2018 that the existence of UFOs is no longer in question. What is lacking is a commitment from the Defense Department to investigate the growing body of evidence from the military, he said.

    "There is no Pentagon process for synthesizing all the observations the military is making," wrote Mellon, a member of Western Pennsylvania's prominent Mellon family and a former Ligonier resident. "It is time to set aside taboos regarding 'UFOs' and instead listen to our pilots and radar operators."

    He could not be reached for comment.

    Mellon noted that one declassified video from 2015 showed two F-18 fighter pilots using an infrared sensor to engage an object that was flying at a low altitude at a high rate of speed off the East Coast but with no discernible means of propulsion.

    In the video, posted on the TTSA website, the pilots react with excitement when they finally "lock on" to the object:

    "Whoa! Got it!"

    (Laughter) "Woo hoo!"

    "What the (expletive) is that thing?!"

    "Did you box a moving target?"

    "No, it's in autotrack."

    "Oh, OK."

    "Oh my gosh, dude."

    "Wow! What is that, man?"

    "Look at that flying!"
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  7. #1187
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    Rivalling Juno, Hubble snaps stunning views of Jupiter
    Astronomy Now | 8 August 2019


    The video, based on Hubble data, shows a full rotation of Jupiter (credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), L. Hustak (STScI).
    Pictures from NASA’s Juno spacecraft as it orbits Jupiter are unrivalled for the close-up views they provide, but the Hubble Space Telescope still manages to amaze thanks to its perch high above Earth’s discernible atmosphere. As part of a project to study changes in the atmospheres of the outer planets, Hubble took this remarkable shot of Jupiter on 27 June, at a distance of 644 million kilometres (400 million miles), revealing more intense colours than seen in previous years.

    “Among the most striking features in the image are the rich colours of the clouds moving toward the Great Red Spot, a storm rolling counterclockwise between two bands of clouds,” the Hubble project said in a release. “These two cloud bands, above and below the Great Red Spot, are moving in opposite directions. The red band above and to the right (northeast) of the Great Red Spot contains clouds moving westward and around the north of the giant tempest. The white clouds to the left (southwest) of the storm are moving eastward to the south of the spot.”

    The Great Red Spot has a diameter slightly larger than Earth’s. It is shaped like a wedding cake with an upper haze layer that stretches more than 5 kilometres (3 miles) higher than surrounding clouds. The filaments seen swirling around the huge storm are high-altitude clouds being pulled into and around it.

    An interesting detail in the Hubble image is the bright orange appearance of the wide equatorial cloud band. Researchers say the colour could be an indication that deeper clouds are starting to thin out, emphasising red material in the higher-altitude haze.

    The image, using Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3, was captured as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy program, or OPAL.
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    Repeating outbursts of 40,000-degree wind discovered near black hole
    Ashley Strickland, CNN | Updated 7:14 PM ET, Fri August 9, 2019


    An artist's impression of a unique system where pulsing hot winds blow away from a black hole.

    (CNN) About 25,000 light-years from Earth, astronomers have discovered intensely hot, screaming winds near a black hole. And those outbursts repeat every eight minutes. It's the first time researchers have observed this around a black hole, according to a new study.

    The study was published this week in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

    The same system showed signs of a violent outburst in 2011. Then, it happened again in 2017. But this time, scientists noticed the repetitive behavior and took a look with the largest telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, the South African Large Telescope.

    In the system, there's a low-mass star like our sun and a black hole compact object that's six times the mass of the sun.

    The black hole compact object is pulling material from the star into a disk that separates the two of them. When the star's material grows hot, it becomes unstable. This is the cause of the energetic outbursts, the researchers said.

    In 2011, the researchers noticed dips in the system's brightness, which shifted as the outburst evolved -- not something they had observed before.

    "The cause of these remarkable, fast dips has been a hot topic of scientific debate ever since their discovery," said study author and lead researcher Phil Charles of the University of Southampton. "So it was with great excitement that astronomers greeted the second outburst of this object in mid-2017, presenting an opportunity to study this strange behaviour in greater detail."

    The telescope enabled the researchers to capture the different wavelengths of light associated with the dips in its brightness -- even though the black hole compact object is 10,000 times dimmer than the faintest stars visible to the human eye.

    Within the spectrum gathered by the telescope, the researchers were able to spot energized helium in the system that had been heated to 40,000 degrees Kelvin and reached speeds of 600 kilometers per second.

    "But what really astonished us was the discovery that these spectral features were visible only during the optical dips in the light-curve," Charles said. "We have interpreted this quite unique property as due to a warp or ripple in the inner accretion disc that orbits the black hole on the dipping timescale. This warp is very close to the black hole at just 1/10 the radius of the disc."

    The wind is moving toward Earth rather than the black hole, and the researchers believe this is due to the pressure of the radiation being generated by X-rays so close to the black hole.

    Such intense radiation should appear brighter than it does in the spectral data, but the black hole is pulling in material that probably obscures the light from our view. We're also looking at the system's edge, rather than head-on, because of its orientation.
    Studying this intriguing system will allow astronomers to learn more about the end of star evolution and the formation of compact objects, like neutron stars, white dwarfs and black holes.

    "These short-period binary versions are a perfect way to study this physics in action," Charles said.
    _____________________________

    It "sounds" like the star is being chewed up by the black hole and is audibly protesting its fate! - ilan
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    The 2004 USS Nimitz UFO Incident | Contact
    Discovery Channel | Published on Aug 8, 2019

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    Something Just Smacked Jupiter and Here's the Photo to Prove It
    Meghan Bartels, Science & Astronomy | 10 August 2019


    Image of Jupiter appears to capture flash of an asteroid striking on Aug. 7, 2019.

    A photograph captured by amateur astronomer Ethan Chappel appears to show an asteroid slamming into the gas giant Jupiter on Wednesday (Aug. 7). So far, astronomers are still waiting to see whether anyone else spotted the sudden flash, which was located over the planet's South Equatorial Belt.

    "Today has felt completely unreal to me," Chappel wrote on Twitter. "Hoping someone else also recorded the impact to seal the deal." Chappel and fellow astrophotographer George Chappel post amazing views of the night sky at their website Chappel Astro.

    There's plenty of precedent for such impacts at Jupiter: The planet's massive gravity tugs asteroids and other space debris toward itself. One group of astronomers has estimated an object 16.5 feet to 65 feet (5 to 20 meters) across slams into the planet between one and five times a month.

    Those impacts are inevitable given the huge amount of rubble floating through the vastness of space. Astronomers have already identified more than 20,000 objects hanging around in Earth's neighborhood alone, and they know that tally is just a fraction of the total. Such space rocks hit Earth as well, and protecting Earth from them is the purview of a field known as planetary defense, but Jupiter takes more blows because of its mass.

    ========

    On his Twitter account, Ethan Chappel created a video (animated GIF) from the images he captured.
    Code:
    https://twitter.com/i/status/1159290187287015429
    Last edited by ilan; 08-12-2019 at 11:32 AM.
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