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A Real Fireball Over Alaska

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  • tkreevesjr
    The sky is falling in Alaska - is anyone watching?
    Message 1 of 3540 , Feb 29, 2000
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      The sky is falling in Alaska - is anyone
      watching?
      <br><br><a href=http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/03/01/fp9s1-csm.shtml target=new>http://www.csmonitor.com/durable/2000/03/01/fp9s1-csm.shtml</a> <br><br>Heather Lende<br><br>HAINES, ALASKA
      <br><br>Just when I thought there were no more big surprises,
      that someone always knew something about everything, a
      flaming fireball bursts through the clouds over Haines
      and streaks across the sky in plain view, before
      spinning out like a bottle rocket over the mountains, and
      blowing up somewhere on the White Pass above nearby
      Skagway.<br><br>Some folks were sure it was a stray missile from tests
      planned for that January evening in the Pacific. Other
      people thought it was some sort of nuclear bomb from
      Siberia. First guesses ranged from space ships and fuel
      barges exploding to plane wrecks and transformers
      blowing up. One woman even though it might be
      Armageddon.<br><br>Mike Kinison stepped off his porch when he was blinded
      by a lighteningbright flash and seconds later saw
      what looked like a flaming rocket shoot through the
      dawn sky. He said there was a loud explosion that
      shook his house. Even with a clear view, he couldn't
      tell if it was a rocket or a meteor.<br><br>The
      unidentified flaming object zoomed overhead at breakfast time.
      By lunchtime, area radio newscasters still didn't
      know what it was.<br><br>We're fairly well connected
      to the outside world here, with the Internet and
      satellite dishes, but apparently it's not a two-way street.
      No one knew a thing about the morning fireworks show
      over southeast Alaska and the southern Yukon
      Territory, except us.<br><br>We had to alert the experts,
      who spent the rest of the day concluding the object
      that burned as brightly as a welding torch and left a
      contrail in the sky that lasted 45 minutes, was a
      meteor.<br><br>What's even odder is that, for the most part, the rest
      of the world still doesn't know about our weird
      encounter with outer space.<br><br>A flaming meteorite
      crashing into the ground near Manhattan makes a great plot
      for a movie, but the the real thing, flying right
      over my house, doesn't even make a blip on the
      national- or international-news radar screen.<br><br>A few
      years ago, a scientist from the University in Fairbanks
      said there were more people working at the average
      McDonalds than looking for bright shiny objects about to
      bounce into Earth. He thinks things have improved, but
      there are a lot more telescopes trained on outer space
      than inner space.<br><br>Meteorites that actually hit
      something are just too rare. On the other hand, they're
      more unpredictable than a tornado and can be as
      powerful as nuclear warheads. The best guess on ours is
      that it exploded with the power of 2,000 to 3,000 tons
      of TNT.<br><br>While no one on record has ever been
      killed by a meteorite, a while back a Southern lady was
      hit in the leg with a fragment from one while
      watching a western on TV. A dog died after being struck by
      one in Egypt, and the Smithsonian has a car that was
      dented by a meteorite.<br><br>And don't forget what
      apparently happened to the dinosaurs after an extra big
      meteorite crashed into their backyard.<br><br>But rather
      than be concerned, Alaskans who saw the meteor were
      happy. Everyone around here thought it was terrific that
      something so rare and mysterious could happen on an
      otherwise normal Tuesday morning in January.<br><br>Now,
      instead of automatically assuming loud bangs or bright
      lights are man- made, we scan the heavens. You really
      never can tell.<br><br>There is one more benefit to
      being so far from the center of human and media
      activity. If the meteor actually hit the ground, even
      little bits of it are worth a fortune. A marble-size
      meteorite from Mars could be worth a million dollars. No
      one's found anything yet. The odds are very slim in
      this snow-covered wilderness. But they're looking, and
      until spring anyway, they have the place to
      themselves.<br><br><br><br>Heather Lende is a columnist for The Anchorage
    • jefftibb
      The SEDS site has a short list of Messier Marathon locations where people will congregate to count the Messier Objects. If you would like to join a
      Message 3540 of 3540 , Mar 13, 2002
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        The SEDS site has a short list of Messier
        Marathon locations where people will congregate to count
        the Messier Objects.<br><br>If you would like to join
        a group and do it check out this
        site:<br><br><a href=http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/messier/xtra/marathon/mm2002.html target=new>http://seds.lpl.arizona.edu/messier/xtra/marathon/mm2002.html</a><br><br>Many will be happening this weekend.
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