Meteor I Sverige 17 Jan 09 Meteor SwedenCelebrity bloopers here

A huge meteor that lit up the sky entered the earth’s atmosphere somewhere over Denmark on January 17 at 1909 UT. It turned night into day in eerie blue light as the meteor exploded. Astronomers said that this fireball’s light was as bright as full moon light. A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky.

What a shame we rarely get advanced notices on celestial events. Venus is nearing its peak brilliance, outshining everything else until the moon reappears at the end of the week. Saturn is rising about 8 or 9 pm this week. Does anyone have any sky news this week?

To find out more click.

17 Thoughts to “Giant Fireball Explodes over Denmark”

  1. GainesvilleResident

    MH – thanks for posting this – I hadn’t heard about this meteor strike.

    As far as events this week – Comet Lulin is visible before dawn toward the southeast if you have a small telescope. I haven’t managed to get up early enough to look for it though. It is heading closer to Earth and will be getting brighter in the sky through the month of February.

    You are right about Venus – it is very bright in the evening sky right now.

    Tonight by 8 PM the Big Dipper will have cleared the ENE (East Northeast) horizon and will be standing on its handle. It is getting earlier and earlier in the evening that the entire Big Dipper is visible. It is a sign that we are getting closer to Spring.

    The new moon is on Monday at 2:55 AM. The moon will start to be visible as a thin crescent at mid-twilight on 1/27 right before it sets. After that it will be getting bigger and be higher in the sky each night after sunset.

  2. Moon-howler

    Hi Gainesville, I get a couple of space alert notices in email–that’s how I found out about this fireball. I thought the video was neat. I ran in to a problem though, I couldn’t see how to embed it and all the words were in Swedish or Danish. I was able to hunt around on youtube and find the one I had seen. At least no one can complain the video is too long.

    Thanks for your updates, especially the one about the Big Dipper. You are a harbinger of good news with that one. Orion is doing something also but I cannot remember what. Probably pointing at Sirius. It is my favorite constellation. Good winter time one!

  3. GainesvilleResident

    MH – you are right about Orion. Orion’s belt points diagonally down to Sirius in Canis Major, which is low in the horizon this time of the year. Orion is an easily visible constellation this time of the year with its distinctive pattern. I have been able to observe the Horsehead Nebula through my telescope – it is located just below Alnitak which is the left star on Orion’s belt. It is fairly easily seen through most small telescopes.

  4. Firedancer

    Awesome video!

    Thursday evening I walked outside at 5:40 p.m. It was already dark but the only visible object in the sky was huge bright Venus. Thanks to Gainesville Resident, I knew what it was.

    Yesterday morning (I think it was yesterday, but maybe it was Thursday) I was outside around 6:30 a.m. and saw the bright waning, crescent moon at a low angle in the southern sky. I said hello, and realized that I had never noticed it before at that time of day. Usually the waning moon is seen in the early evening, at least that’s when I have noticed it. GR, does it appear there in the winter?

  5. Firedancer

    Sorry, I should have said that I never noticed “her” before, instead of “it”. The moon is a “she” to me.

  6. GainesvilleResident

    Firedancer – yesterday the moonrise was at 5:44 AM and the moonset was at 2:54 PM so that is correct that you saw it at that time of the day. After the moon is new, the waxing moon will appear in the early evening – as the moon will be rising after the sun rises and setting after the sun sets. It doesn’t matter what time of the year it is – as it is the moon’s position relative to the sun that determines its phase.

  7. Firedancer

    GR, but it seems to me that I usually see the waning moon in the early evening or at least that’s when I have noticed it. Doesn’t the moon rise and set at different times throughout the year?

  8. GainesvilleResident

    Firedancer – yes the moon does rise and set at different times throughout the year. In fact, it is sort of the opposite of the sun for a full moon. That is, in the winter the full moon is above the horizon for a much longer time than in the summer, and also it is much higher above the horizon when it is at its peak – directly above south. The new moon, since it is close to the sun, is above the horizon for a much shorter time in the winter than the summer, and like the sun – also is much lower above the horizon at its peak in the winter.

    It may be in the summer, you are seeing the waning moon sometime before sunset – such as 6 PM or so. In the winter to see it that way it would be more like 2 PM. So that might be what you are observing, I think. The waning moon would always be observed sometime before sunset, and not after.

    Hope that explanation helps.

  9. Moon-howler

    New adult amateur astronomy toys!!

    this is a neat website. Gainesville, have you ever been to this one before? I have not, to my knowledge.

    All sorts of java activated stuff.

  10. Firedancer

    Thanks, GR. I think that pretty well describes what I meant.

    Hope we get snow soon, to fully enjoy winter’s gifts and mysteries.

  11. Moon-howler

    Firedancer, I don’t think it snows in Northern VA any more.

  12. Firedancer

    I don’t think so either, Moon-howler. I just heard on the news that the upcoming system is now going to be a “rain-snow event”. The weather guy was apologetic about it.

  13. Gainesville Resident

    Thanks MH – I wasn’t aware of that website. It definitely doesn’t snow as much here in the winter like it used to – but then again the winter isn’t over yet by a long shot. February sometimes can have more snow than January – it seems to be a wetter month in general and that can translate to a lot of snow sometimes. I’m not much of a fan of snow or winter in general, although so far this winter has been OK even though it has been cold. I might not mind the snow if I didn’t have to go anywhere, but that usually isn’t the case unfortunately.

  14. Moon-howler

    I hate ice. I do admit that there is nothing as magical looking as one of those ice storms that coats every branch of every tree. Once the magic wears off…ice has no benefits that I can tell.

    Lots of people think because they have 4 wheel drive, they can drive on ice. I disagree. Nothing enables anyone to drive on ice short of spikes. No one can stop on ice. I don’t care what you are driving. 4 wheel drive is all about GO. It does nothing to help with STOP.

  15. Gainesville Resident

    There’s nothing worse than the people with 4-wheel drive vehicles barreling down the roads when they are treacherous to drive. If they get into a skid on an icy surface it isn’t going to matter much whether it is a 4 wheel drive or a 2 wheel drive. I stay as far away as I can from the 4 wheel drive vehicles when the roads are snow covered or icy.

  16. Moon-howler

    Gainesville, I agree 100%. There is something about some folks getting behind the wheel of a 4 wheel drive that turns them into idiots. I have one even and still think this. I avoid them like the plague.

  17. Moon-howler

    We get to do the idiot test tomorrow it sounds like. Poor kids. No school and it chooses THAT day to snow.

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