Astro Bob blog: Another fireball over the Midwest!A brilliant meteor split the sky over Wisconsin and Iowa last night. The moon and Mercury meet up this evening, and astronomers take the first pictures ever of a lightning storm on Saturn.
By: Bob King, Duluth News Tribune
Another fireball over the Midwest!
A brilliant fireball lights up the sky over Madison, Wisconsin last night. More info HERE. Credit: UW-Madison AOS/SSEC
I got a call from a friend last night whose brother-in-law in southern Wisconsin watched the inside of their house light up blue from a spectacular fireball. The meteor was seen across wide swath of the Midwest including Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa and Missouri around 10 p.m. If you saw it and would like to assist in efforts to track down any meteorite fragments that may have fallen, please use this online fireball report form. For more information on the fall check out this link. And for a fantastic short movie showing the meteor literally lighting up the entire sky, please click HERE.
This map shows the western sky about 45 minutes after sunset (6:45 p.m. for Duluth and region) tonight and tomorrow. Find a location with an unobstructed view to enjoy the moon and planet pairings. Created with Stellarium
Tonight look to the western sky about 40 minutes after sunset to find a most delicate crescent moon a smidge above the planet Mercury. Venus will be nearby, too. On Friday the moon, now brighter, thicker and higher, will hover above Venus.
Mercury has been steadily dropping back toward the western horizon and fading this week. Thanks to the moon, this evening will likely be the last time most of us see the planet during its current period of visibility. Be sure to keep your binoculars handy. Venus will be a snap to spot but Mercury will prove easier with a little optical aid.
These images were obtained by Cassini over a period of 13 minutes and show strokes of lightning in a storm cloud. The storm that generated the lightning lasted from January to October 2009, making it the longest-lasting lightning storm known in the solar system. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
Love thunderstorms as much as I do? Then click on the movie below to watch a thunderstorm in action ... on the planet Saturn. This week NASA released the first photos ever of Saturnian lightning captured by the orbiting Cassini spacecraft last August when Saturn's rings were nearly edge-on to the sun.
Cassini has seen the bright convective (cumulus-like) clouds in which lighting forms but photographing lightning has been elusive. Even on Saturn's nightside, sunlight reflecting off the rings lights up the clouds like a full moon does on Earth. Flashes of light are impossible to capture when the entire scene is so bright. Only when the rings were edgewise to the sun and reflecting very little light back at the planet was Cassini finally able to get the dark sky it needed to shoot lightning photos. The craft was 1.3 million miles from Saturn when the photos were made.
A short movie composed of still images of the lightning storm on Saturn last year