Near miss!

This just in: New paper interpreting sun crossing objects in 1883 as a disintegrating comet only a fraction of the distance between earth and the moon.

See here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.2798

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Orlando, United States

  • Hello George

    Yes, I’ve been following this story. Although interesting, it is unlikely that the fragments at that distance did not reach the earth, or have not yet been seen by other observers, before or after their grazing passage, like small comets at least the for larger fragments. Even then, the event would have run the world, and would not have been forgotten. I also unlikely to have been a fleet of flying saucers. But it is a good argument for a movie.

    I took up a scare, I thought you were in the middle of a field of craters (?) and had found something in Orlando.

    regards
    pierson

  • They had me going for a while there. That is, until I read the full paper. And realized how much they managed to assume from old accounts.

    They include a picture of the fragments of comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. But there are no pictures of the objects Bonilla saw. And it’s not clear how Bonilla calculated his times.

    They did do some interesting calculations though. Their paper would make a great exercise for a science, or math class.

    But my real problem with the paper is the idea that a great comet, 8 times the mass of Halley’s comet could make it into the inner solar system, pass through perihelion, break up into a cluster of dangerously large fragments, cross the Earth’s orbit, and then head on out of the inner solar sytem again. Yet only one astronomer saw the thing?

    And in spite its size, the estimated number of large fragments, and the closeness of its approach, there wasn’t even one confirmed, or even reported, meteor shower, or impact, that coincides with it’s arrival.

    Howzatt?

    P.S. They estimate the size of the comet they think Bonilla saw to be something like a billion tons. For comparison, if we work from the postulate that the Taurid Progenitor was the Younger Dryas comet, then Bill Napier’s estimate is that something like 1.1 billion tons of cometary debris collided with the Earth 12,900 YA.

  • Maybe I spoke too soon.

    Check what Wikipedia has to say about comet 12p/Pons-Brooks

    12P/Pons–Brooks is a periodic comet with a period of 71 years. The comet was suggested by Carl Sagan as the spectacular comet seen by the Chinese in 1486 BCE which, according to historical researcher Graham Phillips, might have inspired the rise of a number of monotheistic religions around the world. Fragments of the comet may have barely missed Earth in 1883. It will next appear in 2024

    12P/Pons–Brooks was discovered on July 12, 1812 by Jean-Louis Pons. Independently, it was later found by Vincent Wisniewski on August 1, and Alexis Bouvard on August 2 the same year. In 1883 it was accidentally "discovered" by William Robert Brooks and later identified as the same object. Shortly after its initial discovery it was found to have an orbital period of about 70 years with an error of about 5 years. Johann Franz Encke determined a definitive orbit with a period of 70.68 years. This orbit was used to generate an ephemeris for the 1883 return, but searches were unsuccessful, until it was rediscovered by Brooks.

  • Maybe I spoke too soon.

    Check what Wikipedia has to say about comet 12p/Pons-Brooks

    12P/Pons–Brooks is a periodic comet with a period of 71 years. The comet was suggested by Carl Sagan as the spectacular comet seen by the Chinese in 1486 BCE which, according to historical researcher Graham Phillips, might have inspired the rise of a number of monotheistic religions around the world. Fragments of the comet may have barely missed Earth in 1883. It will next appear in 2024

    12P/Pons–Brooks was discovered on July 12, 1812 by Jean-Louis Pons. Independently, it was later found by Vincent Wisniewski on August 1, and Alexis Bouvard on August 2 the same year. In 1883 it was accidentally "discovered" by William Robert Brooks and later identified as the same object. Shortly after its initial discovery it was found to have an orbital period of about 70 years with an error of about 5 years. Johann Franz Encke determined a definitive orbit with a period of 70.68 years. This orbit was used to generate an ephemeris for the 1883 return, but searches were unsuccessful, until it was rediscovered by Brooks.

  • Interesting timing of the observations. The 1883 eruption of Krakatau was well underway at the time of the fragment sighting on 12-13 Aug. It started on June 16 and increased in intensity for the next couple of months. Final phase that destroyed the island was 25-27 Aug. There was a lot of ash in the atmosphere at the time of the sighting and it had time to circle the globe. Wonder if the eruption and the observations are somehow related.

    This wouldn’t explain the large fragment sightings. On the other hand, looking at smaller things a lot closer to the telescope would help solve the problem of a massive unobserved body breaking up near the earth with no weapons effects (inbound objects) observed. Cheers –

  • Hermann Burchard

    Dennis,
    thanks for your remarks, without which I might have put off reading George’s post of the arxiv abstract by authors Hector Javier Durand Manterola, Maria de la Paz Ramos Lara, and Guadalupe Cordero.

    This is a huge story, quoting their last paragraph:

    For the calculated distances [“between 538 km and 8,062 km”], we see that these objects were close to impact Earth. Furthermore, the calculated size of thee objects is greater than or of the same order of the object which produced the Tunguska event. So ifthey had collided with Earth we would have had 3275 Tunguska events in two days, probably an extinction event.

    The 8,062 km is less than 2/3 of one diameter of planet Earth. . .

    Thanks to George for this shocker.

  • Hello for all

    Yes, it is now clear: *carbonaceous chondrite* should be the objects observed by the Mexican astronomer Jose A. y Bonilla passing in front of the solar disk in 1886 are “samples of outgassed comet, the carbonaceous chondrite meteoroids.

    This way are more similar to asteroids, and would not be visible otherwise passing in front of the solar disk in 1886.

    Does anyone know which direction they came from?

    Southern?

    Some data from its orbit?

    regards
    pierson

  • Thanks Hermann,

    That’s what I meant by interesting calculations.

    They estimated 1 billion tons. Bill Napier estimates the impacted debris from the Taurid progenitor at something like 1.1 billion tons.

    Also, since the Earth moves along her own orbital path about 8.41 times her own width each hour, she only dodged another YD level ELE event by just a few short minutes.

    A sobering thought indeed.

    P.S. the full text of the paper can be read at http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1110/1110.2798.pdf

  • Hello for all

    A little about from Bonilla 1883 communication:

    …I had not yet left my surprise when the same phenomenon was repeated again, and this often such that two hours could count up to 283 bodies across the solar disk … The paths taken by these bodies indicate a direct shift from west to east, more or less inclined to the north or south of the solar disk … In a few minutes of observation I noticed that those bodies which looked black and gloomy, a perfectly round and more or less elongated, ‘when projected on the bright solar disk images provided by leaving the edges and across the fields of the lens … bodies appeared bright and gave off a brilliant track, but crossing the solar disk appeared opaque .. Intervals were variable steps, both passed a body or two, not using more than one third, half a second, or a second maximum to cross the disk, and a minute or two passed before there were others as well spent 15 or 20 at a time, so it was difficult to count… In the afternoon the clouds prevented me from all observation. I then took certain measures and established a monitoring plan in case the phenomenon was reproduced the next day … On August 13, the sky was overcast until eight o’clock in the morning then the clouds cleared a bit and was able to comment. Soon the phenomenon appeared again, and within 45 minutes of observation that allowed us the state of the sky, we have 116 bodies crossing the solar disk.

    http://www.perceptions.couk.com/bonilla2.txt

    In total he counted about 447 objects crossing the Sun.

    http://www.perceptions.couk.com/bonilla.html

    regards
    pierson

  • Hermann Burchard

    The coincidences are too much!
    1. The observatory at Zacatecas had just been completed and officially opened.
    2. The director, Jose Bonilla had just begun a study of transit of Venus together with other Mexican observatories. This was an international effort.
    3. Bonilla had just recently completed a course in astronomical photography in Paris, France, what then must have been a very new scientific methodology.
    4. The Zacatecas observatory was just in the spot where the direction toward the Sun solar met the comet’s trajectory.
    5. The comet had just recently fragmented presumably during perihelion.
    6. The fragments just barely missed planet Earth, being so close that Bonilla had to adjust the focus of his telescope to get sharp images, as can be read in Pierson’s post of Bonilla’s original notes, thanks!
    7. Humans only just survived, by a NEAR MISS, to live another day!

  • Hello Hermann

    This and other narratives, from………….

    http://costeira1.astrodatabase.net/art/bonilla.htm

    “Something that escaped the authors’ analysis is the record of similar observations. The February edition of L’Astronomie, 1886, pp. 70-1 shows other similar reports:

    – J. Herschell (Kent) indicates that in the March 1870 (Volume XXX) p. 135-8, in Monthly Notices of the Astronomical Society of London, there is a paper reporting similar observations;

    – H. Bruguière (Marseille) observed similar phenomenon on April 15, 1883. Bruguière reported that the Sun observed on April 15 using a 45 mm refractor and noted that within 30 minutes (12:30 to 13:00) appeared about 25 objects in the West to East, all in the same direction. On April 16, from 8:00 to noon the same phenomenon was observed.

    – Editor P.G. (Philippe Gerigny) reports that something similar was observed in June 17, 1877 [sic, it would be 1777 or 1787 (?)] By Messier (Charles?), When the observer noted a prodigious number of dark cells across the solar disk for 5 minutes

    – M. Jacquet (Havre) observed on the last day July 15 [1885], at 13:10 local time, a dark body of rounded shape across the solar disk in the direction northeast-southwest and appearing to rid the bright solar disk. And on July 16, Jacquet saw two other cross the solar disk on West to East a few minutes apart from each other. This same observer again revisit the phenomenon on 7 and May 24, 1886, then on August 30, 1886 by sending a detailed report which was published in October 1886 the magazine L’Astronomie.

    Also in August 8, 1886, from 5:30 to 5:50 in the morning, Jacques Leotard (Maerseille) observed similar phenomenon, attributing the flight of birds.

    Examining the issue of March 1870, pp. 135-8, the then Lieutenant Herschel, observing the Sun in Bangalore (India) on days 17 and 18, 1869 outrubro through a 5-inch equatorial refractor and armed with a spectroscope, he noticed some dark spots on the hard cross bright sunlight and appear to rid the edge of the solar disk. An interesting fact is that by focusing the image of the Sun, the objects were presented out of focus and vice versa. Even more interesting is this story of Lieutenant Herschel: “At last one of the objects paused, hovered, and whisked off, and That in the instant he saw That observer writes -” There was no longer any doubt; They Were locusts, flies or Remains of some kind …””‘s article that in 1870 at which time he wrote the letter, the Homeward Mail newspaper reported that countless locusts descended on certain areas of India. The article also mentions another similar report on the occasion of observing the total solar eclipse on 7-8 August 1869 in some stations in the United States, reported in the Journal of the Franklin Institute (1869) p. 200 et seq. Finally, the article of 1870 concludes that “the bright objects seen near the Sun’s disk by Prof.. Zentmayer, and the bright flakes Noticed by Prof.. Coffin, Were not impossibly Caused by the distant passage Between the observer and the Sun’s disk of some the winged tribe the extraordinary flight of locusts, seen through the telescope by Lieut. Herschell, in India, in October last. ”

    regards
    pierson

  • E.P. Grondine

    One of my favorites:

    http://www.noob.us/miscellaneous/tetons-meteor-near-miss-caught-on-film/

    While discussion of this continues, it may have been the day the United States became a very different country.

    IN any case, NASA’s media department still has not assembled a video of ALL of the hits of the fragments of Comet Shoemaker Levy on Jupiter.

  • R. Chapman

    As far as can be determined, only Bonilla saw these objects on Aug 12, and he saw more of them on Aug 13. Given the motion of the earth over the course of ~24 hours it is virtually impossible that a comet’s path lying that close to the earth would be still be in a direct line between his observatory – only his observatory – and the sun. Much as I would love to entertain the notion of a cosmic near miss, it is much more likely that he was observing something much more local. Pierson’s post above lists a half dozen similar observations, and long ago as a teenager recording sunspots I was similarly mystified by numbers of small objects rapidly crossing the face of the sun during a single observing session, all travelling in the same direction. They turned out to be migrating birds 🙂

  • I wonder if we could calculate the mass of those birds, and then back out of that calculation the mass of the progenitor bird. This may also allow prediction of future ‘bird showers’ which would be very helpful for civil planning efforts to protect humanity from the horribly adverse effects of such ‘bird showers’. Nasty nasty.