Comets, Meteors, and Asteroids

Perseids August 12, 2017

Look for other meteors during the Perseids

This weekend's Perseids promise to be exceptional because the Moon will not dim the display. For observers in the United States, the most interesting time to watch, perhaps, is on Sunday evening, August 12, when the meteoroids enter the atmosphere at a shallow angle, creating long streaks. Highest rates are in the early morning hours on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. "The Perseids are a great…
meteor

Planetary Defense Has New Tool in Weather Satellite Lightning Detector

NASA's efforts to better understand asteroid impacts has found unexpected support from a new satellite sensor designed to detect lightning. New research published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science finds that the new Geostationary Lightning Mapper, or GLM, on two weather satellites is able to pick up signals of meteors in Earth's atmosphere. "GLM detects these meteors when they…
Search team pointing to the first meteorite found

Fragment of Impacting Asteroid Recovered In Botswana

(Mountain View, CA, July 6, 2018) A meteorite was found in Botswana’s Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR) that is a fragment of asteroid 2018 LA. This small asteroid was discovered in space by the University of Arizona's Catalina Sky Survey on June 2, 2018, eight hours before hitting Earth. The asteroid burst through the upper atmosphere and resulted in a meteor fireball.  The asteroid detonated…

Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series: Rubble Piles in the Sky: The Science, Exploration, and Danger of Near-Earth Asteroids

This Silicon Valley Astronomy Lecture Series event has passed, but a video of the lecture can be found here. Dr. Michael Busch, of the SETI Institute, will give a free, illustrated, non-technical talk Near-Earth asteroids are a population of small bodies whose orbits around the Sun cross or come near our planet’s orbit.  They turn out to be unusual physical environments: rubble piles, with…
Oumuamua

Is this mysterious space rock actually an alien spaceship?

It’s in the news because people want to know if it’s a rock or a rocket. The “it” in question is a weirdly oblong asteroid that goes by the barely pronounceable moniker 'Oumuamua. It was first seen about a month ago by Pan-STARRS, a collection of telescopes perched high above the handsome beaches of the Hawaiian island of Maui. Like a motorcycle on the freeway, it was observed by astronomers…
Asteroid Oumuamua

The Three Surprises of 'Oumuamua

One of the defining moments in planetary astronomy in 2017 is that this is the year we discovered the first astronomical object to enter the Solar System from interstellar space. Now known as ‘Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “scout”), the object was discovered by the Pan-STARRS survey team in Hawaii on October 19th. Over the next three weeks it was in turn classified as a comet, a long-period asteroid and…
Geminids

Geminids Meteor shower Dec. 12 -15, 2017

People interested in seeing this year's Geminids meteor shower may want to come to California. The weather forecast is good and the Moon is out of the picture. Data from our Cameras for Allsky Meteor Survellance (CAMS) meteor shower video surveillance project, with stations in the San Francisco Bay Area, are now reduced during the day and presented here: http://cams.seti.org/FDL/ The Geminids…

1I/‘Oumuamua, The First known Interstellar Visitor

Join us on January 23 at 7pm for a special SETI Talk on 1I/`Oumuamua, the first known interstellar small body, possibly an asteroid which is probably coming from another planetary system. Its recent discovery by Pan-STARRS1 offers a rare opportunity to explore the planetary formation processes of other stars, and the effect of the interstellar environment on a planetesimal surface. Since its…
flyby

Do You Have the Perfect Nickname for New Horizons’ Next Flyby Target?

Mountain View, CA – Today NASA announced a new naming campaign for the next flyby target of the New Horizons spacecraft. At the moment, the target is officially known as “(486958) 2014 MU69”, or “MU69” for short. Hosted by the SETI Institute, Frontier Worlds (frontierworlds.seti.org) is a new website that invites the public to nominate possible nicknames, vote, and track the progress of the…
Asteroid Florence

Unistellar’s eVscope Successfully Finds, Images Asteroid Florence

Last week, 5-km asteroid Florence paid Earth a visit—and, using the advanced features of Unistellar’s eVscope, we were able to observe it from a location just outside of San Francisco. This, our first attempt to image an asteroid using the eVscope’s Autonomous Field Detection (ADF) feature, was a huge success, as you can see in the image, which captures what we saw in the telescope’s eyepiece…