Organization: Travelers in The Night
Description: Today’s 2 topics:
Bio: Dr. Al Grauer is currently an observing member of the Catalina Sky Survey Team at the University of Arizona. This group has discovered nearly half of the Earth approaching objects known to exist. He received a PhD in Physics in 1971 and has been an observational Astronomer for 43 years. He retired as a University Professor after 39 years of interacting with students. He has conducted research projects using telescopes in Arizona, Chile, Australia, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Georgia with funding from NSF and NASA.
He is noted as Co-discoverer of comet P/2010 TO20 Linear-Grauer, Discoverer of comet C/2009 U5 Grauer and has asteroid 18871 Grauer named for him.
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417 – Red Dwarf Planets
Astronomers continue to be delighted when they discover an Earth sized planet. Scientists were thus very disappointed when the red dwarf star hosting the nearest such planet, Proxima b some 4.2 light years away, turns out to have the nasty habit of emitting bursts of radiation which are likely to sterilize and/or remove the atmospheres of it’s family of planets. Recently, hope of finding a nearby Earth was rekindled when scientists at the European Southern observatory in Chile discovered a small planet circling what appears to be a quiet well behaved red dwarf star 11 light years from us. Astronomers are not yet sure that this newly discovered Earth sized planet lies within it’s stars habitable zone where liquid water could exist on it’s surface. Jumping the gun, ET enthusiasts have beamed a friendly message in the direction of another nearby red dwarf planet system. Their target the super Earth planet, GJ 273b is located some 12.4 light years away near the bright star Sirius in the constellation of Canis Major. At this distance a civilization on GJ 273b could have already received a picture of humanity by deciphering ‘I love Lucy’ and other TV signals it has been picking up for 50 years or so. The next generation of very large telescopes will allow astronomers to search for the presence of oxygen and other molecules which indicate the presence of life in the atmospheres of nearby worlds. In the mean time we have more reasons to be thankful for what we have here on planet Earth.
418 – Fireball II
Recently there were four fireball meteors, brighter than the planet Venus, which exploded over Germany, France, Ohio, and Arizona within the space of only 10 hours. A total of 1320 individuals were treated to light shows and reported their observations to the American Meteor Society. The one which exploded over Arizona was probably several feet in diameter and entered the Earth’s atmosphere over Flagstaff. This event was observed in Arizona, California, Nevada, Utah, New Mexico, and Colorado. It was recorded by numerous electronic security and dashboard cameras and was visible for from 3 to 7 seconds. This meteor also produced a booming sound which was reported by about a dozen different observers. The fireball was last seen over Happy Jack, Arizona and is likely to have produced meteorite fragments which are scattered along Interstate 17 somewhere in the rugged country between Phoenix and Flagstaff.
There are likely to be on the order of 1,000 fireball events over the Earth every day. Most of them occur over the oceans or during the day and pass unobserved by humans. During the first 10 months of 2017 the most energetic fireball event occurred when a meteoroid entered the Earth’s atmosphere at 8.5 miles/second above the ocean between Australia and Antartica. If you record a fireball with your dash cam or security camera report it to the American Meteor Society. Your data will be very important in finding out where it came from in the solar system as well as to indicate where it might be possible to find pieces of it on the ground.
For Travelers in the Night this is Dr. Al Grauer.
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365 Days of Astronomy
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