I recently went on vacation to Atlantis in the Bahamas and took some astro photos while I was there.
The full moon in July was called the hay moon because farmers cut their hay in July around this time. I can confirm this happens in Lancaster as I’ve seen more cut hay fields in the last two weeks than I have all year. Here’s a picture of the Hay Moon rising over Atlantis.
I really wanted to catch a meteor photo over the ocean, so I setup my camera and tripod on the balcony and waited. I caught one within 15 minutes, my first night trying, but not a single one after.
Here’s the full picture:
Here’s a picture of the moon just over the main towers the last night I was there.
A time lapse video of the moon rising:
And the sun rise the morning I went home.
I spotted this hawk in my backyard on Friday morning. He liked sitting on top of my covered telescope tripod.
He had a good view from up there and then saw something he liked.
There have been swarms of beatles in the yard the last few days and this guy was spotting out some breakfast.
I wasn’t sure what type of hawk this was so I posted the pictures to a birding forum. This is what Mike Miller from Astromart had to say:
This is an immature Red-shouldered Hawk. Note the bright buffy bar, near the tip of the far wing in Photo #2. This is diagnostic for Red-shouldered, and cleanly separates it from Broad-winged, which can be very similar, especially with a perched bird.
I had to head out to the West Coast this week for some business development meetings.
It was a pretty productive week…
Lots of finds are being made out in Wisconsin. At least ten have been reported so far and I’m sure there are more that haven’t been announced yet. This fireball event is a meteorite hunters dream come true. Everything worked out as perfectly as one could want: multiple cameras from different sides of the track captured direct sightings of the fireball, 1000s of witnesses saw it, three radar returns spanning more than 25 miles were captured. The radar returns alone told hunters exactly where to go and that is the main reason why meteorites were recovered 22 hours after the fall. For fun I plotted the track based on the radar data and two videos. For the videos I used the US Bank video from Milwaukee and the police dash cam video from the Howard County Sheriff.
Here are two pictures of the doppler radar data:
And here’s a close up:
For the videos, the first thing you have to do is figure out where they were taken from. I knew one video had the Milwaukee US Bank building in it. Using 3d buildings in google earth I was able to determine with a pretty good approximation where the first camera was. I then used the 3d buildings to line up the shot to determine the azimuth readings. Here’s a view of downtown Milwaukee where I think the camera was located.
For the second camera I don’t know the exact location so I just picked a random place. Using these three data sets and my interpretation of the witness reports I have plotted the ground track for the Wisconsin Meteor. This is certainly not exact, but I think it might be pretty close.
There are meteorites in and around the town of Milfin Wisconsin. Mike Farmer thinks there are thousands of them.
Here’s a map of the fireball observations reported to the The American Meteor Society. Over 150 people reported their sighting to the AMS. Thousands of reports have also been submitted to facebook and twitter. Considering there were very nice radar returns and excellent video coverage and that multiple stones (i’ve heard 3) have already been found, the witness reports are far less important than in other falls. Its still interesting to see all of the reports plotted and how far this thing could be seen.
I’ve uploaded the Google Earth KMZ file for the AMS reports for the Wisconsin Meteor. To get this file to work you have to have Google Earth downloaded and installed on your computer. Once Google Earth is installed, simply download the link and it should automatically load up in Google Earth.
A 131 gram Wisconsin Meteorite was recently found by Mike Farmer. Congrats Mike!
The first meteorite from the Wisconsin Fireball was recovered less than 24 hours from the time of the fall. Check out the story on Universe Today.
Hundreds of reports of a fireball in the sky above Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois are flooding news and police stations, blogs and social networking sites. A few videos have already been posted online:
Information is still poring in on this one. It looks like there is already a lot of data and witnesses which makes the initial meteorite recovery outlook pretty good.
Here are a few news stories
I’d guess there will be some meteorite hunters flying out to Iowa tomorrow.
Most of this weeks episode of Meteorite Men will be about the West Texas / Ash Creek meteorite search, but they will have a segment dedicated to the PA Fireball from July 6th, 2010. Any meteorite hunters out there tracking the Lancaster Meteorites will get a jolt of motivation from watching this episode. It should also be a fun and interesting episode for anyone who experienced the fall last summer. Check it out on Science Channel at 9:00 PM & 11:00 PM this Wednesday night.
Update Tuesday Feb 23, 2010: I got a call from the meteorite men producers and they said they bumped the Mason Dixon segment from the show in favor of a longer Lorton episode.
I really wanted to do something special for my wife this Valentines day and I thought, what would be better than a trip to Tucson for the annual Gem & Mineral Show? Exhibitors from around the world converge on Tucson each year show casing the best collections of precious and semi-precious stones, minerals, fossils and other collectibles. This trade show spans dozens of hotels throughout the city and is the home of the world’s largest meteorite expo! I knew she would love it. We arrived Thursday February 4th and were planning a long weekend. Due to the cataclysmic snow storms on the east coast we ended up getting stranded in Tucson for two extra days. We were set to fly back to Dulles on Tuesday and our flight was canceled again as a result of snow storm #2. So we booked a flight to Charlotte NC, rented a 4×4 and planned to drive 8 hours home, through the snow storm. Our luck changed at the Dallas Fort Worth Airport when a plane to Philly was delayed. We were able to jump on that flight and make it home before the snow hit. Now I’m home and looking out the window at 4+ feet of snow on the ground. Its a stark contrast to the sunny 70 degree weather in the west.
Despite the travel chaos the trip to Tucson was a lot of fun. Its a beautiful city and the people are very nice and laid back. I was able to pick up a bunch of nice new meteorites on the cheap and I met up with some of the top meteorite people in the world. I even got a chance to go meteorite hunting in the Wet Stone strewn field. We didn’t find anything but it was a great experience to hunt with pros in the Arizona desert. Here are a few pics of some of the fossils they had at the show. I could have picked up a nice, real, full Triceratops skull for only $250,000, but I didn’t bring that much cash with me.
It turns out the Doctors who gave the Lorton Meteorite to the Smithsonian didn’t own the building that got hit and after finding out about it the landlords (the legal owners of the rock) want the meteorite back. The museum offered to pay the landlords $5,000. Turns out the rock is worth $25,000-$50,000. A 300 gram rock at $30 per gram (the low end price for something like this) would be $9,000, at $100 per gram (the super hype price) that would be $30,000 + the hammer stone bonus, first stone in a witnessed fall in the nations capital bonus and all the media hype some bidders might be willing to pay up to $50,000 for this rock. You can read the full article here or watch this update from the local news.
Aerospace engineer and meteor scientist Rob Matson has taken a first crack at an estimated strewnfield for the Lorton meteorite. Since no video of the event has yet been released, Rob used multiple witness reports, radar data, the hammer stone location and wind speed information to plot the possible locations for other meteorites from this fall. Rob has stressed the importance of searching within a 1 mile radius of the Dr’s office first but has provided this additional information should those search areas become exhausted. One should not interpret these coordinates in an x-marks-the-spot type of way. They should serve more as a general guide to areas where different sized stones would be if they existed. The strategy Rob suggested was drawing a line between the dots and covering those areas, but only after exhausting the areas around the Dr’s office.
Here is a map of the coordinates plotted in Google Earth.
Here is a copy of the Google Earth KMZ file for the Lorton Meteorite Estimated Strewnfield. You will need Google Earth installed on your computer in order to view this file.
Here are the raw data coordinates for the various masses:
Mass Longitude Latitude Dist (mi) Bearing
——- ——— ——– ——— ——-
3 g -77.12929 38.73888 5.2 59.3
5 g -77.14419 38.73268 4.3 58.7
15 g -77.16179 38.72688 3.2 56.0
40 g -77.18079 38.71908 2.1 52.6
120 g -77.19569 38.71088 1.1 50.6
(308 g) -77.21159 38.70068 -0- N/A
1150 g -77.22609 38.69048 1.1 228.0
3750 g -77.24249 38.67848 2.3 227.4
It looks like one of the points is on the driving range of the Fort Belvoir Golf Course. That would be a nice easy place to search if you had access.
There have been no new discoveries reported.
If you are a local resident in the Lorton area you are encouraged to be on the lookout for meteorites. Should you find one, please record the exact location where it was found and contact me at mike.hankey [AT] gmail.com
On Monday January 18th at approximately 5:40 PM a huge fireball streaked the skies above PA, MD and VA. A piece of it ripped a hole through the roof of a Dentist’s office (this is called a hammer stone). Witness reports indicate fragmentation and numerous illuminated timbers falling to the ground. There are definitely more stones to be found and we’ve got a really good idea where they are. Meteorite hunting really doesn’t get better than this.
Here’s a flock of geese that flew near my house on December 20th, 2009. They were headed on a north western trajectory. If I were them I’d be headed south, but then again I heard it was 30 degrees in Miami yesterday, so who knows.
During the Geminid meteor shower I took over 1,000 photos. When reviewing the pictures you basically have to step through each pic looking for meteors. As you skip through pictures you see the stars move and sometimes you will see something that wasn’t there before. I noticed something over a series of 40 pictures at 30 seconds each, a total of 20 minutes. I thought it was a satellite a first, but after review I noticed it stayed in the field of view for 20 minutes but most of the satellites I’ve photographed before only lasted for 30 seconds or less. So I guessed this was probably a slow moving high orbit satellite. I thought it would have been cool if this was a comet or an asteroid or an alien UFO, but I asked around and my initial suspicions were confirmed. This is most likely a HEO satellites (HEO=Highly Elliptical Orbit: aka ‘Molniya’ orbits) or a geosynchronous satellite. I’m still working on an official ID. It would be nice if one of these times I would catch an actual alien mothership.
Here is the full photo of the picture. Can you see the satellite streak? (hint: lower left, to the left of Sirius).
UPDATE: Jan 5th, 2009:
Marco Langbroek from SatCamTracking was able to identify this satellite as a Russian GLONASS navigation satellite. Here’s what Marco had to say:
It is Kosmos 1948 (88-043C), a Russian GLONASS navigation satellite launched in 1988. GLONASS is the Russian equivalent of the American GPS. They move in orbits with a revolution period of two revolutions/day, at roughly 19000 km altitude (that’s some 12000 miles).