Paul Wiegert University of Western Ontario predicts possible Jan 12, 2014 meteors?

Veteran meteor researcher Paul Wiegert of the University of Western Ontario has been using a computer to model the trajectory of dust ejected by Comet ISON, and his findings suggest that an unusual meteor shower could be in the offing.

“For several days around January 12, 2014, Earth will pass through a stream of fine-grained debris from Comet ISON,” says Wiegert. “The resulting shower could have some interesting properties.

According to Wiegert’s computer models, the debris stream is populated with extremely tiny grains of dust, no more than a few microns wide, pushed toward Earth by the gentle radiation pressure of the sun. They will be hitting at a speed of 56 km/s or 125,000 mph. Because the particles are so small, Earth’s upper atmosphere will rapidly slow them to a stop.


“Instead of burning up in a flash of light, they will drift gently down to the Earth below,” he says. 

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Waiting for Comet ISON

So now we have three hypotheses for the COMET ISON as it approaches and passes the perihelion over the next 28 days (Nov 28th is the date) : 

  • NASA Frozen Ice : predicts extreme temperature and pressure might (50-50) cause disintegration of the shell and evaporation of the core. Good news : the 2 tails do not intersect earth’s orbit even after any explosion.
  • Hoyle Wickramasinghe’s Panspermia Model : predicts “seeds of life” carried in comet. Might be possible to test in stratosphere when earth is closest to ISON trajectory in late January. BUT if COMA does “explode” it is likely any matter is vaporized.
  • James McCanney’s Plasma Discharge Comet Theory : predicts serious effects on the sun, the earth’s magnetic field and the sun’s own solar wind. Potential effects on earth/satellite communication is unknown but worrisome.

Question from BCMETEORS.NET to STScI OPOPlease could you comment on the best time amateur meteor watchers should look for meteors from ISON’s dust tail.

Answer :  Hello Bill: One study indicates that there will be very little chance of meteor activity related to Comet ISON:

Nevertheless, it looks to me like possibly the best chance to look for any meteor activity would be in mid-January, when the Earth passes “near” where the comet had travelled earlier in its orbit (NB the earth never passes directly through the path of the comet).  These simulations nicely show the path of the comet and the planets through the Solar System.  Zolt Levay STScI OPO


Question : Hi Zolt : last quick question : The missing possibility (at least from the abstract) is what would be the affects of  disintegration (estimated at 50%) . Depending on how this might occur? I assume it would be caused by  gravitational stress (+ heat) on the shell. If the shell shatters the resulting “explosion” surely would be similar to the Chelyabinsk explosion (even though this was caused by air friction and heat). When this occurs would not energy (and particles – water etc)  dissipate initially spherically and then conically? Or away from the sun? or what?

Answer : Hi Bill, I’m not an expert in this area, so I can’t comment in detail on the mechanics of exploding comets or meteors.  However, yes I suppose that if the comet disintegrates, I suppose the material would drift apart and be spread over a larger volume, whether its explosive or more gradual.  I wouldn’t be able to estimate how much larger.  

If the comet does disintegrate as it approaches the Sun, those smaller pieces would heat more quickly and be much more likely to completely dissipate.  I guess that material has to go somewhere, but much of it will totally vaporize — becoming gas instead of pebbles — and be spread over an extremely large volume at very low density, and with little chance of intersecting with anything else in the Solar System.  Seems a little anticlimactic I admit.  Nevertheless, it certainly doesn’t hurt to look for extra meteors. 


(Sen) – One of the most eagerly awaited comets in history is livening up as it heads for its rendezvous with the Sun later this year.

Comet ISON has already been monitored by the Hubble Space Telescope and the Swift satellite as it races in between the orbits of Jupiter and Mars. Now another orbiting observatory, NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, has taken its own close-ups.

Images newly released show the comet, officially labelled C/2012 S1, as it appeared with Spitzer’s infrared array camera on 13 June when it lay about 500 million km from the Sun. It was clearly already fizzing with activity.

The picture on the left, taken at a wavelength of 3.6 microns, shows a tail of fine rocky dust being ejected from the comet’s head and being blown away by the pressure of the solar wind.

UK astronomy populariser Stuart Atkinson has setup a blog, Waiting for ISON, with observing advice and star maps to help people view the comet. He told Sen: “These are fascinating observations from Spitzer. We’re all crossing our fingers that this is a good sign and that ISON will become very active as it approaches and rounds the Sun.

“Hopefully it means ISON will captivate us all in early December, but of course everyone should just try and stay calm and not get too carried away. ISON might dazzle and delight us, or disappoint and depress us, it’s too early to say yet, no matter what anyone tells you.

“It’s often said that comets are like cats but I think they’re more like politicians: sometimes they promise us the world at first, to get our attention, and then let us down! But let’s hope for the best!”

The comet has an orbit that is close to a parabola, which suggests it may be on its first journey into the inner Solar System from the Oort cloud of icy bodies that is thought to surround it. It has the consistency of a dirty snowball, being made up of dust and gases such as water, ammonia, methane and carbon dioxide left over from the formation of the planets 4.5 billion years ago.

Cranbrook College Meteor – Aug 2013

Hot News from Rick Nowell:  Cranbrook College of the Rockies meteor camera picked up a very long and slow meteor graze or something re-entering the atmosphere.   Slow, it takes 30 seconds to cross the sky.  That happened on Tuesday 6 Aug 2013 at 4:52 am Mountain Daylight Time (or 10:52 Universal Time).




This is a composite photo with the 30 seconds of video frames superimposed.  This has been enhanced in IRIS by subtracting a camera dark frame to remove background hot pixels, offsetting 10 from the bottom amplitudes and applying an adaptive filter to remove some hiss, then taking a logarithmic stretch to bring up background stars, like Vega, Capella and Jupiter.  (Altair seems too low when I compare to a starmap though).  Note two reference points, a beacon to the North at Alt/Az (1.0, 3.1º), and another beacon to the NW at (3.0º, 309º).

The object kind of sputters and leaves a short smoke trail behind it.   Fast at first, then slowing down.  But no chunks falling off.  It comes out of a thin cloud haze on the West, and vanishes in a band of clouds to the Northeast, into the morning twilight glow.  But the sky appears clear in between. 

Thin clouds could make it appear to sputter, but the sky appears clear overhead.  Here in the attached SlowGraze_6Aug2013_600s.PNG I composited 600 seconds of video trying to enhance cloud structure.  The object passes between two bright stars, Deneb and Vega.  Capella is visible over the vent,  but the rest of the dots are hotpixels.  (See attached Mask_Boundary Hotpixels.JPG).  You can see Jupiter rising in East, close beside the vent.



(We put the camera beside the vent to shade it from light from some windows to the East.) Jeff Brower’s meteor camera in Kelowna also picked it up.

Esko Lyytinen in Finland tells Jeff that it has been uploaded to a number of websites, even one in Japan, and Jeff says it has received attention in the press.

For the video see:

College of the Rockies, Cranbrook, BC, Canada  49°31’03″N, 115°44’37″W, 940m


Hi all, Esko Lyytinen, of Finland, was once again kind enough to work on our images overnight. He has a preliminary result and he does emphasize he will be refining his modelling once he receives Rick’s cvs file for the event. That will hopefully determine if the meteor skipped back into skip or entered earth’s lower atmosphere. If we hear from the Albertan cameras, then we may have a much clearer picture of the final path.  I did send Rick’s lat/lon/el to Esko so that will refine the original data. So with those caveats here is what Esko came up with. (I quote with his permission):


Analysis from Finland

Jeff,  I calibrated your camera by means of then stars. And I measured 15 mutually timed positions (of the fireball) in the one second images, with a time span of 16 s ( two missing in between, because not well measurable).

As to the Cranbrook camera coordinates, I may not have these as accurate. I have these: 0.427 km,    115.7 W ,  49.6 N .
And as judged from the decimals count, these are only approximate.

I have these early results of the fireball. The radiant azimuth is 230.9  and elevation 4.2 . The reference horizon and meridian for these is 118.0 W, 49.5 N  (not so fare from the beginning, rought 70 km after this) .
The entry velocity is 17.1 km/s.

It came in your camera at the height of 85.6 km and to Rick’s camera at 82.0 km. The last measured in your camera is at 64.4 km and Rick’s 58.7 km.

Because going away, the velocity near the end will not be accurately derived near the end. This data would even give some negative deceleration, which of course can not be true (but may actually be close to zero, mening quite a big meteoroid). If getting from Rick’s camera timed data also, might tell this better.

The most low “point” of the track would be maybe 10 seconds after last seen in Rick’s camera. It depends on the deceleration if the escaped back to space or not. Because no deceleration is visible in your data, I think it maybe probable that it did escape back to space. It may have been quite big (?)

As told, the precise coordinates of Rick’s camera are desirable.  And if this would allow for internally timed could probably tell better on the velocity near the end. I see the video in the net, but if timed data does not exists in a more concise form, then the original video would be desirable.


Great work Esko and thanks from everyone at,  from Jeff Brower, BC Canada

144 Billion Earth-like Exoplanets in our Galaxy

June 2013 : Kepler Mission updated its estimates. Here are these latest numbers right from the horses-mouth (Professor Ravi Kopparapu). As at 20 June 2013, Dr. Kopparapu, expert with the Kepler Mission estimates :

  • Stars in the Galaxy : 400 billion
  • The number of habitable earth-like exoplanets in our Milky Way Galaxy : 144 billion (> 1011).
  • The OORT Cloud around our Sun (it is also hypothesized by some astronomers that most suns have OORT clouds) is estimated :
      • to contain : several trillion individual asteroids (objects) larger than 1 km (0.62 mi).
      • to reach 1 ly towards the next closest star just 4 ly away – Proxima Centauri.

Comets have a wide range of orbital periods, ranging from a few years to hundreds of thousands of years. Short-period comets originate in the Kuiper belt (eg Halley’s Comet – orbit 75 years). Longer-period comets are thought to originate in the Oort cloud (Orbit – thousands of years). The latest theory is that they are mostly water, with a frozen, dust-encrusted shell. This would explain why objects like the Chelyabinsk, in February 2013, often leave few meteorites (rock fragments).

This year (In 2013), ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA))  – which CANADA is part of – managed from Herzberg Institute in Victoria, BC) has confirmed that researchers have discovered an important pair of prebiotic molecules in the icy particles in interstellar space (ISM). ISM is the empty part of the spiral arms.

The chemicals, found in a giant cloud of gas about 25,000 light-years (half way to centre of the galaxy) from Earth in ISM, may be a precursor to a key component of DNA and the other may have a role in the formation of an important amino acid.

Researchers found a molecule called cyanomethanimine, which produces adenine, one of the four nucleobases that form the “rungs” in the ladder-like structure of DNA. The other molecule, called ethanamine, is thought to play a role in forming alanine, one of the twenty amino acids in the genetic code.

Previously, scientists thought such processes took place in the very tenuous gas between the stars. The new discoveries, however, suggest that the chemical formation sequences for these molecules occurred not in gas, but on the surfaces of ice grains in interstellar space.

In February 2013, NASA ALMA spokesman announced : “Finding these molecules in an interstellar gas cloud means that important building blocks for DNA and amino acids can ‘seed’ newly-formed planets with the chemical precursors for life.” 

See Video Interview and Animations with Dr. Anthony Remijan of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.

 “…..Microbiology may be said to have had its beginnings in the nineteen-forties. A new world of the most astonishing complexity began then to be revealed. In retrospect I find it remarkable that microbiologists did not at once recognise that the world into which they had penetrated had of necessity to be of cosmic order. I suspect that the cosmic quality of microbiology will seem as obvious to future generations as the Sun being the centre of the solar system seems obvious to the present generation…..”

Sir Fred Hoyle 

NASA wants amateur astronomers to track ‘dangerous’ asteroids

Here’s your chance to save the planet!  NASA has called on amateur astronomers and other citizen-scientists to help identify the smaller and potentially destructive asteroids lurking in the cosmos, which could wipe out a city upon impact with Earth. 

Scientists estimate that about 90 per cent of asteroids that are one kilometre or larger which pose potential planet-wide danger have been surveyed. However, more than 99 per cent of asteroids that are 30 to 40 meters in size which might not destroy the planet, but could very easily wipe out a city – have yet to be found and tracked, the ‘National Geographic’ reported. 

NASA’s announcement this week comes four months after an 18-meter-long asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, in February.


Full 52 minute NOVA Show : 


On the same day, an asteroid named 2012 DA14 brushed past Earth from a distance of less than 28,000 kilometres away. 

Professor Chandra Wickramasinghe of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology (BCAB) has classified two major threats to the human race :

• the threat that near-Earth asteroids are posing for the human race

• the threat that “inbound” viruses and bacteria are also posing to human race

Wickramasinghe is recognized as the father of modern day astrobiology. He is certainly the person who has done most to influence the global development of this newly emerging science which builds upon a substantial knowledge-base from the quite separate disciplines of mathematics, physics, biology and paleontology.

On June 18, 2013 Ed Lu, ex-NASA astronaut, praised the White House and NASA announcement. “This directly mirrors the mission of the non-profit private B612 Foundation and our Sentinel Mission, and we strongly applaud NASA and the Obama Administration for their leadership in raising the visibility of this critical issue and for establishing detection of asteroids as a national priority.  The Administration has called for a team “of the best and brightest” working on this together and we look forward to increased collaboration and partnership.

The latest estimate is that there are one million asteroids with the potential to impact Earth with energy large enough to obliterate any major city. We believe that the goal must be to find these one million asteroids – anything less, in our opinion, would not meet the intent of this Grand Challenge.


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We have now migrated our website to Joomla 2.5. Please excuse us if there are any problems. Feel free to test the new site. We welcome you to report issues and suggestions to . 

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