Space News Archives

Jim Hale’s
State of the Earth Report

Friday, 27 January, 2023

This was the 27th day of the year with 338 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn, and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Pisces and the astro-Logical sign of Taurus.

Comet 2022 E3 ZTF has moved closer towards Polaris, the North Star, but the finder chart we posted last week should still be valid for helping you locate it with binoculars and /or a telescope. The comet is above the horizon all night now, but the wee hours of the morning until the sky begins to brighten will probably be best for viewing it.

The Boulder Sunspot Number was 104. That’s down 36 from yesterday, and down almost 100 from the count on January 11th. The Planetary K Index has been ranging around 2 and the Geomagnetic field is Quiet with no unusual Auroral activity expected in the near future.

Asteroid 2023 BU came and went with more publicity than it may have deserved, but now we’ve just learned than another Near Earth Object slipped past the Earth less than half an hour behind it with no fanfare at all. The second asteroid, 2023 BZ3 was farther away than BU, but still closer to us than the Moon and it wasn’t discovered until yesterday, the same day it made its close approach.

Otherwise all is relativity quiet on the planet tonight with no major earthquakes, volcanos, meteors, fireballs, or UFOs to report. Have a good weekend, everyone!

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For Thursday, 26 January, 2023

This was the 26th day of the year with 339 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn, and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Cetus and the astro-Logical sign of Aries, moving into Taurus.

The Crescent Moon is located above the planet Jupiter tonight. That’s the other way round from last night and will give you a good visual reference as to how far the Moon travels in 24 hours, but you will need to look before about 10:00 PM local time to see them. Mars will be high in the sky a little later, hovering in the vicinity of Orion, the Pleiades, and the red star Aldeberan, which is the eye of Taurus the Bull. Venus will be getting brighter and climbing a little higher above the western horizon after sunset every night, and Mercury is rising about an hour and a half ahead of the Sun in the mornings now.

The Boulder Sunspot Number was 140. That’s up 13 from yesterday. And sure enough, more M level flares have been seen shooting out the edge of the Sun from Sunspots that had been aiming right at us earlier in the week. How long will our luck hold out? The geomagnetic field is Quiet with Planetary K Index around 2.

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake struck near New Zealand at 1045 UT today, but no reports of damage or injuries have appeared.

Asteroid 2023 BU has had its much publicized close encounter with Earth by now. Coming as close as just a few thousand miles from Earth’s surface it is being called the fourth closest asteroid to have ever been detected – the fourth closest that didn’t actually hit the Earth that is!

We’ll include an image of the asteroid as it was displayed online courtesy of The Virtual Telescope Project, a free-to-the-public robotic telescope operation based in Italy. The small white spot in the center is the asteroid when it was about 10,000 KM from Earth. Since it is being tracked by a moving telescope, the nearby stars show up as white streaks, even though it is the asteroid that is actually moving relative to the stars.

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For Wednesday, 25 January, 2023

This was the 25th day of the year with 340 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn, and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Pisces and the astro-Logical sign of Aries.

The Crescent Moon will be located slightly below and close to the planet Jupiter tonight. The photogenic pair should be easy to spot from early evening until they set around 10:00 PM your local time. You might also catch Mars hovering higher in the sky near the Pleiades, and Venus shining very brightly in the west after sunset. Saturn has all but dropped out of sight for the time being, unless you have a very clear view of the western horizon soon after darkness sets in.

Well, it looks like the UK has won the fireball sighting contest again, with nearly 200 people in England, Scotland and Wales reporting what they saw at 0652 UT on the morning of the 24th. It’s curious that there have been several widespread sightings across the UK, France and adjacent areas at almost exactly the same time of day within the past week or so.

As far as we can tell, Near Earth Object 2023 BL1 did not collide with the Earth this afternoon, and we will trust predictions that 2023 BL2 will fly harmlessly past us about 3 hours from now. 2023 BU is going to be a little dicey for Thursday though. It’s only about the size of a small truck and isn’t supposed to hit the planet, but there’s at least a non-zero chance it could smack into an orbiting satellite.

The Boulder Sunspot Number was 127. That’s down 17 from yesterday. Humongous sunspot number 3190 released a few more M flares today but not until after it had rotated away from the Earth. Now folks, this is starting to look a little suspicious – we’ve lost count of how many times an otherwise active sunspot region has suddenly gone dormant when it’s aiming directly at us. Of course that’s good news for just about everybody except people hoping to see the Aurora from south of the Arctic Circle. The Planetary K Index did start to rise this afternoon but it has subsided now, so Auroral activity will probably be reserved for the far northern latitudes tonight.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 11)

By the middle of the 20th century numerous scientific demonstrations had demonstrated the effects of relativity theory in laboratory settings. In 1971 one newsworthy experiment took the theory out of the labs and into the general public’s view. That’s when physicist Joseph C. Hafele and astronomer Richard E. Keating arranged to go flying around the world on commercial airliners with four atomic clocks in the seats beside them.

The flying clocks were initially synchronized with similar clocks at the U.S. Naval Observatory near Washington, D.C., and from there they went on two separate flights around the world. One flight went east the other west. On the eastward flight, going in the same direction as the Earth’s rotation meant they would be moving faster than a fixed point on Earth, so according to Special Relativity theory clocks should lose time in comparison to the reference clocks in Washington. On the westbound flight, moving in opposition to the Earth’s rotation, the airborne clocks would be seen as moving slower relative to the Earth, therefore they should be observed to gain time.

Along the way, the scientists were keeping track of variables such as altitude, compass direction, wind speed, temperature, air pressure, humidity, and other factors that might influence the results. Note that four atomic clocks were taken on each trip in order to derive an average value and compensate for random differences that might arise with any one clock. Similarly, the Naval Observatory, as well as all other precision time monitoring facilities, utilize not just one but an entire array of atomic clocks to produce an averaged reading that becomes the official “master time.”

Upon Hafele and Keating’s return to the Naval Observatory their data was analyzed in order to calculate what the differences in time should be according to Einstein’s theories, and when all the clocks times were compared they found the set of traveling clocks had indeed gone out of sync with the Observatory’s clocks in reasonably close agreement with the predictions of relativity.

The Hafele-Keating experiment was probably closer to being a really awesome science fair project than a rigorous scientific procedure, but it was the first time that such a real-world test of Einstein’s time-dilation predictions had been attempted, and it definitely captured the attention of the popular media. Naturally TIME magazine did a feature article about it, and so did Popular Mechanics, as well as hundreds of other newspapers and magazines around the world.

The jet-speed atomic clocks had confirmed in dramatic but easily relatable terms that time is a much more flexible commodity than most people had ever realized. Of course, the difference in the times observed with the flying clocks compared to the stationary ones was measured in nanoseconds, or billionths of seconds – the East moving clocks had lost about 54 nanoseconds and the West moving clocks gained about 160 nanoseconds.

Professor Hafele stated that their methodology of averaging the readings of the four clocks yielded a final result that is accurate to within 1 billionth of a second per day. He further stated: (Quote) . . . this experiment verifies unequivocally the existence of the predicted east-west directional asymmetry; only more precise magnitudes remain to be established. (Unquote)

Notice in the graph below from Professor Hafele’s presentation titled “Performance and Results of Portable Clocks in Aircraft” there was a noticeable discrepancy in the time readings produced by the four flying clocks. The readings from each clock are shown by the rectangular markers which also give the serial number of each device. The time differences predicted by theory for each direction of flight are indicated with solid black rectangular markers, while solid black circles denote the averaged, or mean observed difference, and the bracketed line shows the total observed range.

This photo shows Physicist Joseph C. Hafele (and his socks) with astronomer Richard E. Keating, their flight attendant, and four Hewlett-Packard 5061A Cesium Beam atomic clocks aboard one of the jets.

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For Tuesday, 24 January, 2023

This was the 24th day of the year with 341 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn, and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces, moving into Aries.

Has anyone seen the comet? Many sources are reporting that it has brightened significantly in the past few days. Of course it would help if the sky wasn’t completed blocked by clouds, fog and precipitation every morning.

About two dozen people in Texas and Oklahoma reported seeing a bright fireball at about 6:25 AM CST yesterday morning.

Well, it appears that our math concerning the distance from Earth that Near Earth Object 2023 BU will be coming was sort of right but sort of wrong too. We’ve just learned that the Center for Near Earth Object Studies lists an object’s distance to the center of the Earth, not the surface, so this particular rock will be coming even closer than we thought – perhaps as close as 3,000 miles from Earth’s surface. Adding to our confusion, the Center seems to have changed the time for 2023 BU’s closest approach from 2117 UT on the 26th to 0026 UT on the 27th. That’s less than three hours difference, and it’s still on Thursday for the US and Canada, just seems strange since this is the first time we’ve noticed such a change in the prediction. But wait there’s more . . .

Another new Near Earth Object has appeared on the close approach list and this one is due to fly by at 1938 UT tomorrow, January 25th. At 140,000 miles, NEO 2023 BL1 won’t be coming nearly as close as BU, but it’s still just a little more than half the distance to the Moon.

The Boulder Sunspot Number was 144. That’s down 22 from yesterday, and the overall solar activity has definitely not lived up to expectations based on last week’s numbers. The geomagnetic field remains quiet with the Planetary K Index hovering around 1.

A 6.4 earthquake struck Argentina today at 1837 UT. The quake was centered at virtually the same point as last Friday’s 6.8 quake. Neither of these quakes seems to have resulted in significant damage or injuries.

At this time it appears that the “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” Rocket Labs Electron rocket is looking likely to blast off between 6 and 8 PM EST…and yes, the New Zealand company’s first launch from the Virginia facility lifted off right at 6:00 PM. Reports are that all is going to according to plan. We’ll include a screenshot captured at the zero moment in the countdown.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 10)

In Part 9 we accused Albert Einstein of breaking the Laws of Physics, but the truth is he just pushed us through a doorway that led to a new way of understanding the Laws of Physics. Each of the topics in the four groundbreaking papers Einstein wrote in 1905 had been studied and written about before he came along. Most of the basic formulas and equations had already been worked out by others – even the famous E equals M C squared was not entirely original to Einstein — but no one else had the vision to see how all the pieces of the puzzle could be fitted together to reveal a more holistic framework for investigating our world at the atomic, and even subatomic level.

In earlier parts of this report we pointed out how the great astronomers of the 16th and 17th centuries were so indebted to a clockmaker named Jost Burgi for his innovations that made timing celestial events to within a few seconds of accuracy possible. Empowered by this new level of accuracy, astronomers were able to break through the traditional views of the past and realize that the Earth and planets revolved around the Sun, not the other way around.

Einstein’s ideas concerning the nature of the universe seemed just as unorthodox and absurd to many 19th and early 20th century scientists as the idea of the Earth revolving around the Sun had to people in the 1500’s. Once again though, technological advancements in the precision measurement of time helped to prove that Einstein’s theories were correct – or in other cases, to prove that his predictions were wrong.

In the previous section we quoted from Einstein’s paper, ”On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies,” in which he described how two clocks that were initially synchronized with each other would fall out of sync if one of the clocks is moved relative to the other, either in a straight line or in a circular path. Einstein predicted that a clock placed at the equator would run more slowly than a clock situated at one pole of the Earth’s axis, since the clock at the equator is moving about 1,000 miles per hour (or about 460 meters per second) relative to the clock at the pole which is essentially not moving at all. He gave the formula (one half T times V squared over C squared) for calculating what the difference in time displayed by the two clocks should be.

Eventually though, it was discovered that a clock at the equator does not lag behind one at the pole, so Einstein’s prediction on that idea was not correct. In fairness, though, this was a case of being “wrong for the right reason,” and ultimately it led to the unexpected conclusion that time as measured by clocks is affected by gravity just as it is by acceleration and velocity.

It turns out that because the Earth is not a perfect sphere but bulges slightly at the equator, a clock sitting on the surface of the Earth at the equator is farther from the center of Earth’s mass and is therefore subject to slightly less gravitational pull than a clock at the pole. As it happens, the reduction in gravity cancels out the effects from increased velocity, so the two clocks in Einstein’s experiment will remain synchronous after all.

This principle is fully explained by his General Theory of Relativity, but it took Einstein another 10 years to get from the Special Theory to the General Theory. No wonder the family maid called him “dopey”, right?

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For Monday, 23 January, 2023
This was the 23rd day of the year with 342 days remaining.
The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn, and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius.
The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign
of Aquarius, moving into Pisces.
Venus and Saturn have officially leap-frogged past each other now. Saturn will be dropping lower in
the sky after sunset and Venus will continue climbing higher each evening. A very thin Waxing
Crescent Moon will be in the vicinity of those two planets tonight and it should be worth a look if they
haven’t already set at your location. And by the way, the Sun has finally started rising earlier in the
mornings than it did on the Winter Solstice, the Northern Hemisphere’s shortest day of the year. It’s
already setting about half an hour later than it did on December 21st, so from now on we’ll be gaining
daylight at both ends of our rotational period.
The American Meteor Society says that about 90 people in the UK and Ireland reported seeing a
fireball around 0657 UT on Saturday morning January 21st, and about two dozen others in England,
France and Holland spotted one at 2325 Saturday night.
Also on January 21st, a new Near Earth Object was detected that is predicted to come within .025
Lunar Distance on Thursday. If our math is correct that would only be about 6,000 miles or 10,000
kilometers away, well below the orbital altitude of our geosynchronous satellites. We’ll double check
the numbers and probably have more to say about Near Earth Object 2023 BU in the next few days.
The Boulder Sunspot Number was 166. That’s exactly the same as Friday, but the sunspot number had
increased to 197 on Saturday and it was 194 just yesterday. Humongous sunspot # 3190 failed to
produce any extreme flares when it could have had the biggest impact on our planet, and it will be
going completely out of sight in a few days. There were two M1 flares over the weekend, but the
Planetary K Index has been staying below 3 and the Geomagnetic field has been Quiet with no
unusual Auroral activity.
And surprise, surprise – the Rocket Labs launch from Wallops Island in Virginia was postponed due to
weather conditions yet again. It’s been rescheduled for Tuesday night though, and at this point the
weather forecast looks favorable for the 6-8:00 PM EST launch window. People in the mid-Atlantic
coastal region might catch a glimpse of the rocket’s fiery exhaust plume in the distance tomorrow,
and everyone can watch it online.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 9)


At the end of the 19th century trains were going farther and faster. Western Union telegrams and
even Bell telephones were becoming commonplace in everyday life. Edison’s bulbs and Tesla’s AC
power plants were ending the world’s dependence on sunlight and fire for illumination.
On January 29, 1886, Carl Benz of Mannheim, Germany, filed a patent application for his design of “a
vehicle powered by gasoline engine” and the age of the automobile was about to begin. On December
12, 1901, Guglielmo Marconi proved that his system of “wireless telegraphy” could be used for
transmitting messages through the air to receiving stations located hundreds of miles away, and soon
something called “radio” would modulate its way into our daily audio stream. On December 17, 1903,
the Wright brothers made their first successful demonstration of the controlled flight of a power-
driven heavier-than-air craft at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and just like that, mankind’s eternal
dream of being able to fly had become a reality.
So, by the first few years of the 1900’s, it seemed that humanity had just about reached the limit of
whatever technological progress the Laws of Physics would allow . . .
But then, in 1905, somebody broke the Laws of Physics.
That “lawbreaker” was a 26 year old patent clerk named Albert Einstein. In 1905 Einstein authored
four groundbreaking scientific articles that effectively launched humanity into “The Atomic Age.” In
fact, the second of the four papers, titled, “Investigations on the Theory of Brownian Movement,” is
considered to have settled what had been a vigorously contested scientific debate over whether such
things as atoms even existed.
The first of Einstein’s 1905 papers dealt with the “photoelectric” effect in which electrons are released
when light hits certain materials. His explanation that light consists of discrete packets of energy
referred to as “quanta” gave the name to quantum mechanics and earned Einstein a Nobel Prize. The
fourth paper, “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon its Energy Content,” formally introduced the
concept of the equivalence between mass and energy, and gave us what has been called the world’s
most famous equation, 𝑬 = 𝒎𝒄𝟐.
We closed out last week’s report with the image of two of the original pages from Einstein’s third
important paper from 1905, just as it was published in the German language scientific journal Annalen
der Physik. The article, as translated to English, was titled “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”
and it established the basis for what came to be known as Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity.
Here’s the English translation of the relevant parts from those two pages, slightly condensed here for
brevity: (Quote)
1) If at points A and B of [coordinate system] K there are stationary clocks which are
synchronous; and if the clock at A is moved with the velocity v along the line AB to B, then
on its arrival at B the two clocks are no longer synchronous, but the clock moved from A to
B lags behind the other which has remained at B by 𝟏/𝟐 𝒕*𝒗𝟐/𝒄𝟐 . . . t being the time
occupied in the journey from A to B.

2) If we assume that the result proved for a polygonal line is also valid for a continuously
curved line . . . we conclude that a balance-clock at the equator must go more slowly, by a
very small amount, than a precisely similar clock situated at one of the poles under
otherwise identical conditions. (Unquote)
To give a nutshell summary of the preceding paragraphs, Einstein has basically destroyed the notion
that there can be such a thing as an “absolute time” since a value for time cannot be expressed
without taking into account the frame of reference and the relative motion of the observer. Of course,
the predicted “time dilation” effect is extraordinarily small for most human activities, and in 1905
there was no technology available for observing such infinitesimal differences in time. But since the
middle of the 20th century the effect of Relativity on time measurement has become increasingly
important in our everyday lives, and scientists are constantly pursuing techniques to improve our
ability to measure the passage of time with an accuracy greater than one second in over a billion
years.
The chart below illustrates the historic progression of time-measuring accuracy after the first practical
atomic clock was constructed in the 1950’s. By the 1990’s atomic clock accuracy had exceeded 1
billionth of a second per day, and now it’s orders of magnitude better than that.
(PS – Be sure to tune in for part 10 to find out which of the two paragraphs from Einstein quoted
above turned out to be wrong!)

By Donated – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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For Friday, 20 January, 2023

This was the 20th day of the year with 345 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn, and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn.

Tomorrow’s New Moon will be the closest one there’s been in 992 years. And we won’t have another New Moon this close to the Earth for another 345 years. This could be called one of the most unique celestial events of a millennium so you should try and see the New Moon tomorrow – oh wait – you won’t be able to see it because a New Moon is almost directly in front of the Sun. Well, if you happen to see the Sun tomorrow, just remember there’s an invisible Moon hiding nearby.

Over the past week we’ve been urging you to notice the changes in position of Saturn and Venus near the western horizon after sunset. On Sunday the 22nd those two planets will be right beside each other. After Sunday Saturn will start falling below Venus and eventually drop out of sight. Just like the New Moon, Saturn will soon be getting too close to the Sun for us to see it.

A 6.2 Magnitude earthquake rocked residents near Guadeloupe and the Leeward Islands at about 1123 UT this morning but no reports of casualties or major damage have appeared. A 4.2 Magnitude earthquake struck Tanzania at 2130 UT today. You don’t hear much about earthquakes in Tanzania, but maybe that’s because it’s against the law for residents to talk about them. Yep, Tanzanians are legally prohibited from mentioning earthquakes or anything else that might “cause public havoc or disorder”. Fines of not less than 5 million Tanzanian shillings and/or 12 months in prison are possible as punishment for violators. Now this just in: A 6.8 magnitude quake has occurred in Santiago del Estero, Argentina at 2209 UT. This is a fairly heavily populated area so we will be expecting more news on this event soon.

Sidenote: We had wondered if the combined gravitational effects of the Sun and the extremely close-to-the-Earth New Moon might stir up some seismological activity. You might want to avoid any high rise buildings over the next few days.

The Boulder Sunspot Number was 166. That’s up 2 from yesterday. The huge sunspot we’ve been talking about for the past few days has not delivered any huge solar flares and it’s now beginning to show signs of decaying as it rotates away from the Earth. The Planetary K Index has ranged from less than 1 to about 3 today. Could this Unsettled Quiet hold some weekend surprises?

And finally, do you remember that rocket launch from NASA’s facility at Wallops Island we talked about way back in December? The one that kept getting postponed by red tape and bad weather? We don’t want to jinx it because it’s kind of a big deal for Virginia – in fact, the mission is called, “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” – but if you live anywhere along the mid-Atlantic coastal region you might want to watch for the rocket’s currently scheduled launch at 6:30 PM EST on Monday, January 23rd. Maybe the thirteenth time will be the charm? If not, we’ll let you know on Monday’s broadcast.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 8 1/2)

At the end of the 19th century trains were going farther and faster. Western Union telegrams and even Bell telephones were becoming commonplace in everyday life. Edison’s bulbs and Tesla’s AC power plants had ended the world’s dependence on sunlight and fire for illumination.

On January 29, 1886, Carl Benz of Mannheim, Germany, applied for a patent on his design of “a vehicle powered by gasoline engine” and the age of the automobile was about to begin. On December 12, 1901, Marconi proved that his system of “wireless telegraphy” could be used for transmitting messages through the air to receiving stations that were located hundreds of miles away, and soon something called “radio” would modulate its way into the daily stream of our lives. On December 17, 1903, the Wright brothers made their first successful demonstration of the controlled flight of a power-driven heavier-than-air craft at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, and just like that, mankind’s eternal dream of being able to fly had become a reality.

So, by the first few years of the 1900’s, it seemed that humanity had just about reached the limit of technological progress that the Laws of Physics would allow . . .

And then, in June of 1905, somebody broke the Laws of Physics.

It started with an article in a German language scientific journal called Annalen der Physik. Here is the part most relevant to our report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation:

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For Thursday, 19 January, 2023

This was the 19th day of the year with 346 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius and the astro-Logical sign Sagittarius, moving into Capricorn.

Comet 2022 E3 ZTF is becoming brighter and its tail has been undergoing noticeable changes as seen through telescopes. The nearly New Moon won’t be interfering with the view over the next few days, but you will still need very clear skies in an area away from city lights to see the comet. It will be up after midnight, but best viewing will be the early pre-dawn hours. The comet has moved north, closer to Polaris, the North Star, since last week, so we’ve revised our finder chart accordingly. Hopefully, you know how to find the North Star by reference to the “pointer stars” in the bowl of the Big Dipper. Arcturus is a bright reddish star about halfway down the sky toward the southeast. So if you can imagine a line between Polaris and Arcturus, the comet will be located about halfway along that line and slightly on the other side of it from the bowl of the Big Dipper. This is just a rough guide, but it should put you close enough to the area to start scanning for a fuzzy greenish patch with long streaming tail using binoculars or a telescope. Please refer to our updated finder chart and let us know if you spot the comet!

The Boulder Sunspot Number was 185. That’s down 1 from yesterday, but there are still several extremely large and potentially active spots almost directly facing the Earth today. Earlier this week, sunspot AR3190 was being described as 4 times the size of the Earth, now it’s being called 5 times bigger. There have been at least two M1 level flares today, but for now the Planetary K Index has returned to Quiet levels below 1.

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For Wednesday, 18 January, 2023

This was the 18th day of the year with 347 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign Sagittarius.

Tomorrow morning, just before the Sun comes up on January 19th, look for the slim crescent of the Waning Moon low on the eastern horizon. The bright red star called Antares will be a bit higher in the sky and to the right of the Moon, but if you look closer in and to the left of the Moon you might catch a glimpse of Mercury. Even though it is visible to the naked eye, Mercury stays so close to the Sun it is easy to miss. So the Moon will be a big help in locating our Solar System’s smallest planet tomorrow, and once you see it you will have a better idea where to look and what it looks like. Over the next two weeks Mercury will be coming up a little earlier and shining more brightly each day, so it could be interesting to track if you’re an early riser.

The American Meteor Society received a few dozen reports from England and France for a fireball sighted about 2128 UT last night.

The geomagnetic field took an earlier than predicted hit from a Coronal Mass Ejection late last night. The planetary K Index quickly rose from less than 1 to around 4 for a few hours into the early morning Universal Time. More Auroral activity than had been expected was seen in the northern latitudes. The K Index has subsided now, and no extreme solar activity has been observed today. The Boulder Sunspot Number is 185, down 1 from yesterday.

A 7.0 Magnitude earthquake centered off the shores of Indonesia at 0606 UT this morning appears to have shaken residents but surprisingly no casualties or major damage was reported. Similarly, no reports of injuries or damage have come through from the 4.1 earthquake in the far Northwest Territories of Canada earlier today, but we will list it in our category of unusual places to experience an earthquake.

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For Tuesday, 17 January, 2023

This was the 17th day of the year with 348 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign Sagittarius.

Venus and Saturn will be moving closer together every evening this week. Look for them low on the western horizon soon after the sun goes down but before about 7:00 PM your local time. Venus is much brighter and it will appear in the twilight sky first, Saturn will come into view when the sky begins to darken more. Jupiter will also be shining very brightly higher in the sky in the early evening, and red planet Mars will be up until after about 4:00 AM.

The American Meteor Society has logged several new fireball events from last night, including scattered reports from England, Canada, and the US. We don’t usually see too many sighting reports from New Zealand, so it’s also worth mentioning a fireball event that was seen by over a dozen people near Auckland around 1013 UT on January 16th.

A sunspot cluster labeled AR3190 has grown in size to about 4 times the diameter of the Earth. It’s being called the biggest sunspot seen in many years, and is almost directly facing the Earth. It has a complex magnetic field that holds the potential for producing some very strong flares soon – or will it wait until it isn’t aiming at our planet before it lets loose with a mega X Class flare? The Boulder Sunspot Number is 186, up 9 from yesterday, but at this time the Planetary K Index has dropped below 1. The Geomagnetic field is Quiet and no unusual Auroral activity is expected for tonight.

Last night we mentioned that today marks the 28th anniversary of “The Great Hanshen Earthquake” in Japan that killed an estimated 6,434 people. It turns out that January 17 of the previous year, 1994, was the date of the so-called “Northridge Earthquake” in California. At magnitude 6.7, it was one of the strongest earthquakes observed near an urban area in the US. The official death toll was listed at 57, and some 8,700 more people were injured. Property losses were estimated in the billions of dollars. Fortunately, no severe earthquakes have been observed so far on January 17,, 2023.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 8)

In Part 7 of this special report we focused on the development of the railway system and how this radical new method of transportation made it necessary to have a standard time keeping system that could be applied to a large geographical area. Another new technology was also being developed in the 1800’s that would prove vital for putting the plans for standardizing time into practice, and it was crucial to the expansion of railroad operations in other ways as well: It was the Telegraph.

We could probably write an entire book called Time, Trains, and Telegraphs. The “Three T’s” are so interrelated and so fundamental to our contemporary concept of “what time it is” that it’s hard for us to imagine what life must have been like when every town in the world conducted its business according to what time its own local sundial said it was. Just think, it’s only been a little over 100 years since our grandparent’s and great-grandparent’s time keeping system was basically the same as the ancient Egyptian’s some 4,000 years ago!

Yes, 19th century people had mechanical clocks and watches that were fairly reliable, and they didn’t require the Sun to be visible at any particular moment to be able to tell what time it was. Ultimately though, their clocks and watches were just mimicking sundial time, and they would often need adjusting to stay in sync with the local sundial. This old-fashioned way of keeping time simply wasn’t sustainable in the era of railroad travel, and the telegraph literally provided the spark that was needed to turn people away from sundial time and onto standard time.

We generally think of the telegraph in terms of someone tapping out the letters of a brief text message in Morse code while someone else some distance away is deciphering the encoded message as they hear it being reproduced by a “sounder” mechanism. However, even before Samuel Morse had developed the principles of the telegraph into a practical system for sending text messages, the basic technique of sending pulsed electromagnetic signals over wires had already been used for the purpose of synchronizing clocks at widely separated distances. Similar methods were used to send electrical signals that let railway workers know the status of trains along lines, and telegraph pulses were even being used to directly control certain railroad operations remotely.

Indeed, it was the need for enhancements to the railroad’s signaling system that was the initial driving force behind the development of the telegraph. In fact, when Samuel Morse tried to interest Congress and the US Postal Service in allocating funds to help build the network of telegraph lines he was envisioning for general communication purposes, his requests were denied because the bureaucrats in power could not see any advantage to having such a system of communication.

Eventually though, the potential benefits of the telegraph system became practical realities, and the two revolutionary technologies of the 1800’s – trains and telegraphs – were growing side by side as thousands of telegraph poles were being planted in the ground right next to the steel railway tracks that were beginning to crisscross every major country of the world.

In Part 7 we mentioned “The Day of Two Noons,” November 18, 1883, the day that all the major railway lines in the US officially adopted Standard Railway Time. On that date astronomical observatories sent out telegraph signals that coincided with “high noon” at Washington, DC. These

signals were received by all the major railroad stations throughout the US and that’s how they were able to synchronize their clocks with each other’s, and with the new Standard Railway Time.

The details in this part of our report have focused mostly on developments in England and the US, but similar events were taking place all around the world. Both change and resistance to change would be universally encountered as the “Power of Science” continued its slow but never-ending battle against the “Power of the Sun” for control over our relationship with time.

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For Monday, 16 January, 2023

This was the 16th day of the year with 349 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio, moving into Sagittarius.

The Moon will be rising in the wee hours of the morning and setting in the afternoons this week, so you might see the crescent growing slimmer each morning on your way to work. The planet Mercury disappeared from the evening sky a few weeks ago, but it didn’t take long to swing around the backside of the Sun and now it is just beginning to reappear in the early morning sky about an hour before sunrise.

Has anyone seen the comet? Good old, C2022 E3 ZTF has moved closer towards the Big Dipper now, but our suggestions for spotting it and the finder chart we posted on the show’s website last week should still put you in the right neighborhood.

The American Meteor Society logged four new fireball events over the weekend. The first three were all seen from southeastern states in the US, the last was seen over Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Indiana just before 10:00 PM EST last night.

The Sun produced at least three more fairly strong M flares over the weekend and at least one of them released a Coronal Mass Ejection that could impact Earth’s Geomagnetic Field later this week. The Planetary K Index was at or near minor storm conditions for most of the day on Sunday, but it has subsided below 2 at this time, so no unusual Auroral activity is expected tonight.

A 6.2 Magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia before midnight UT yesterday, and a 6.3 quake struck off the shores of Japan early this morning. Reports indicate no casualties from either of these strong earthquakes. Coincidentally, on January 17, 1995 Japan experienced an earthquake that registered at least Magnitude 7 and did extensive damage in the region. More than 6,400 people died from the effects of that quake, and Japan is currently in the process of planning memorial vigils as a 28th anniversary remembrance.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 7)

We ended part 6 with a comment about how, after the 1500’s, world-wide travel and global communications had made it necessary to have an accurate calendar by which everybody could at least agree on what day it was. By the 1800’s, two new technologies were being developed that would take travel and communication to previously unimaginable levels. These new developments would make it essential for people to have a system of timekeeping that was both universally agreed upon and accurate to the minute. The first of the two developments was the railway train.

The first stationary steam engine was built around 1712. Improvements to design and construction methods led to the first steam locomotive being built around 1804 in England. Initially, steam locomotives and the rails they ran on were limited to hauling heavy loads of freight, then in 1825 the world’s first public passenger train line debuted in England. It could carry over 400 people at speeds up to 15 miles per hour, and this marked the beginning of a new era of fast travel that soon spread around the world.

In the 1800’s every town and city operated under its own local time. Often a town sundial would be used for synchronizing all the clocks and watches people of that community lived by, and this usually involved observing the moment of “high noon.” When the Sun is exactly at its highest point in the sky it is said to be on the local meridian, or directly above that location’s line of longitude. Clocks and watches synchronized with a sundial at high noon will display what’s called “Local Mean Time.” So, depending on what line of longitude they were on, every place in the world was operating according to its own local mean time – its own unique little time zone, as it were.

In the days of travel by foot and horses this didn’t pose much of a problem. The time in nearby towns only differed by a few minutes, and for longer trips you had plenty of time to adjust your watch along the way as needed. But the emergence of travel by railroads led to mass confusion over what time it was. There could be a considerable difference in the local time between any two points of train travel. At first each railway company dealt with this issue by assigning a specific time standard to each of their own lines, but that led to even more confusion for the passengers. Even worse, there were incidents of collisions between trains operating on the same track but on a different clock.

The Great Western Railway system in England is credited with being the first to standardize its timetables in accordance with London Time, also known as Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT. After some initial resistance, by 1847 all the railway lines in England had come around to scheduling their operations using GMT. Finally in 1880 the English government legislated that the entire country would begin observing GMT as the nation’s standard time. There was still lots of local opposition and many communities required their public clocks to be equipped with extra hands on the dial to display both GMT and their traditional local time.

In the US the situation was even more complicated, especially after completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in 1869, because of the much broader geographical area involved. Eventually a plan for dividing the country into four standard time zones (and a fifth time zone for maritime Canada) was adopted by all the major railroad lines. The switch to “Standard Railway Time” was made at noon on Sunday, November 18, 1883, but this only applied to the railroad’s timekeeping

system, not the official civil time. As a result, the occasion was sometimes referred to as “The Day with Two Noons.”

Just as in England, there was a lot of public and bureaucratic resistance to the idea of changing the local time to match railroad time in the US. There’s a famous story about a preacher in Tennessee bashing his own watch with a hammer on the pulpit in a protest against observing railroad time instead of “God’s time”. But eventually, more and more towns, cities and states gradually began to comply with Standard Railway Time since it proved to be more convenient and efficient for everyone everywhere. Even so, it wasn’t until March of 1918, in the final months of the First World War, that the US Government passed legislation ordering the country to officially begin observing a set of standard time zones which was basically the same as the Standard Railway Time’s system, but with additional provisions for Daylight Saving Time.

The “Comparative Time-Table” shown below was published prior to the adoption of Standard Railway Time. It was meant to help travelers determine the local time in major railway cities, but it really illustrates just how confusing the situation was.

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For Friday, 13 January, 2023

This was the 13th day of the year with 352 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra.

The Waning Gibbous Moon will reach Last Quarter phase on the 14th. The Moon won’t be rising until after midnight for the next several nights, so the evening sky will be clear for good views of Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. You’ll have to catch Venus and Saturn low in the west as soon as possible after the Sun goes down because they won’t be lingering there for long, and remember to look as their positions change from night to night over the coming week..

The Moon will be up during the prime time comet viewing hours, but it’s moving toward the opposite side of the sky and growing dimmer, so your chances for viewing Comet 2022 E3 ZTF will be improving. Please refer to our comments and comet finder chart from yesterday’s report that is now posted at Yourufoshow.com .

Fireball reports from the American Meteor Society are coming in briskly now. Another southern US fireball was reported by about25 people across Alabama, Florida and Georgia shortly after 9:00 PM EST.

The recent flurry of Solar Flares seem to be subsiding a bit, but there was a fairly strong M3 flare at 1015 UT and an M1 flare before that. The Boulder Sunspot Count was 151. That’s down 32 from yesterday as one set of spots has rotated out of view, but more active clusters are on the verge of rotating our way for next week. The Planetary K Index has risen above 3 and Auroral activity may extend to southern Canada and similar latitudes tonight and over the weekend.

Today was Friday the 13th so we decided to see if there might be any astronomical connections to this supposedly unlucky day. To our surprise, we were lucky enough to find a webpage where an astronomer had computed how many Friday the 13ths there would be in 400 years of the Gregorian calendar. (The Gregorian calendar repeats in 400 year cycles.) For reasons the astronomer didn’t really explain, it turns out that the 13th of the month – any month – is slightly more likely to fall on a Friday than on any other day of the week! Do you suppose Pope Gregory the 13th knew this when he came up with his calendar?

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 6)

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII introduced modifications to the Julian calendar that involved changing the rules for when a Leap Year would be observed. Instead of inserting a Leap Day every four years without exception, certain years would skip the prescribed extra day. Thanks to his adjustments, Pope Gregory’s calendar provides an accuracy better than 1 day in 3,000 years, whereas the original Julian calendar was only accurate to 1 day in 128 years.

The Pope only had authority to order people residing in the Papal States of the Italian Peninsula to switch to the new system, so adopting the Gregorian calendar was not a uniform worldwide action. Great Britain didn’t give its approval until 1752, and that’s when the entire British Empire, including the American Colonies, Canada, and Australia, etc. were forced to comply.

By 1752, the Julian calendar had gotten 11 days out of step with the Gregorian year, so implementing the new system meant that 11 days had to be erased from the 1752 calendar. September 3rd through September 13th simply did not exist for the British Empire that year — but it was even more complicated than that.

A guide to “The 1752 Calendar Change” from the Connecticut State Library explains:

The changeover involved a series of steps:

· December 31, 1750 was followed by January 1, 1750 (under the “Old Style” calendar, December was the 10th month and January the 11th)

· March 24, 1750 was followed by March 25, 1751 (March 25 was the first day of the “Old Style” year)

· December 31, 1751 was followed by January 1, 1752 (the switch from March 25 to January 1 as the first day of the year)

· September 2, 1752 was followed by September 14, 1752 (drop of 11 days to conform to the Gregorian calendar).

The confusing deviations from their traditional calendar were not popular among the common folk and news of riots with angry protestors shouting, “Give us back our 11 days!” arose. The world’s transition to the new calendar was an extremely disjointed process and it took more than three centuries to achieve near 100% compliance. Greece was the last major European country to accept the change, and that wasn’t until 1923 – barely 100 years ago — and Turkey didn’t agree to the Gregorian calendar until 1927.

There are still other calendar systems in use by different cultures, different religions, different parts of the world, and for different special purposes, but the Gregorian calendar is now the most widely used civil calendar on Earth. It isn’t hard to imagine all the confusion that would result if every country was using a different calendar system these days, but keep in mind that not until long-distance travel and global communication became so speedy and so commonplace that getting the whole world on the same calendar page became not just a convenience but a necessity.

The scene below titled “An Election Entertainment” is by the English painter and printmaker William Hogarth in 1755. A rowdy protest is taking place outside the banquet hall. Rocks and chairs are being tossed through the window. The gentleman in the red jacket at lower right has just been conked on the head with a brick, and the man on the floor with a cane is having his own head injury tended to. Under the latter man’s foot is a black banner that reads, “Give Us Back Our Eleven Days”.

Does this painting illustrate the First Time War?

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For Thursday, 12 January, 2023

This was the 12th day of the year with 353 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo moving into Libra.

As far as celestial objects go, Comet 2022 E3 ZTF is getting all the media buzz today because it just made its closest approach to the Sun. We’ve been down playing expectations for this comet, but you probably should try to see it now since it won’t be coming around again for another 50,000 years. We’ll give some suggestions for trying to see it below.

Another fairly widespread fireball sighting occurred over Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Louisiana around 5:00 AM EST yesterday morning. Meanwhile, the number of reports for the meteor seen from England and nearby parts of Europe on Monday night has topped 600.

We’ve been getting M class solar flares about every three to four hours today, with a total of four as we’re writing this. These were all relatively low M1 category so they don’t seem too exciting after all the recent X flares, but – fortunately or unfortunately depending on your point of view – none of the recent flares seem to be hurling Coronal Mass Ejections our way. The Geomagnetic field remains Quiet with the Planetary K index below 3. No unusual Auroral activity is expected tonight, but tomorrow’s forecast indicates the Aurora viewing line could extend close to the US – Canadian border.

Here’s our advice for trying to see Comet 2022 E3 ZTF:

These comments are intended mainly for people who have a healthy interest in this kind of thing but aren’t necessarily expert astronomers, so we won’t trouble you with Right Ascension and Declination values. That would take all the fun out of it anyway. Also, keep in mind that comets are constantly moving with respect to the fixed stars, so these instructions will only apply for a limited time.

First of all, you will need very clear and very dark skies, as far from city lights as possible, specifically somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere. You will also need a good pair of binoculars and/or a telescope. The comet will be above the horizon after midnight, but we think the best time for viewing will be between about 4:00 AM and 6:00 AM your local time. It is currently near the constellation Corona Borealis, but that’s not easy to locate if you’re not an experienced stargazer. Everybody knows where the Big Dipper is though, right?

Side note: the Big Dipper isn’t technically a constellation, but if you can find the two bright stars in the handle that are closest to the bowl of the Dipper, draw an imaginary line through them going away from the bowl and about halfway down the sky. The comet is currently positioned almost directly on that line.

Next, you should easily be able to spot two very bright stars on opposite sides of the line you just drew from the Dipper. Bright red Arcturus will be towards the southeast, and the very bright bluish-white star Vega will be low in the northeast. Now, if you imagine another line between Arcturus and Vega, the place where that line intersects your line from the Big Dipper will be close to where the comet is located.

So take your best pair of binoculars and slowly sweep through that region of the sky looking for a fuzzy greenish-bluish patch of light. Once you find it you’ll be able to aim your telescope at it. Even a small telescope should reveal some details of the comet. It’s best to start with low power and work your way up if you have a choice of lenses.

PS: Don’t confuse nearby M 13 with the comet! M 13, or Messier Object 13, is “The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules”. It’s a cluster of hundreds of thousands of stars that might be mistaken for a comet when seen through binoculars or a small telescope.

Please refer to our finder chart below, and let us know if this was helpful. If so, we’ll try to keep the info updated as the comet gets brighter and changes location over the next few weeks.

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For Wednesday, 11 January, 2023

This was the 11th day of the year with 354 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo.

The Sun came up almost a minute earlier today than yesterday. There won’t be much change in the Sun’s rising time for the next few days, but it will be setting about a minute later each day. Go figure.

Are you being bombarded with news headlines about “the comet of a lifetime” being in the night sky right now? Well the comet designated as C2022 E3 ZTF will make its closest approach to the Sun tomorrow, January 12th. In the weeks to come it will be getting brighter for the northern hemisphere, but unless you have a very good telescope prepare to be underwhelmed. The media attention this thing is getting seems way out of proportion to its luminosity, and while most news sources are saying it’s going to be visible to the naked eye – well maybe kinda sort of. For now you can try looking low in the sky after midnight using binoculars or that very good telescope. The comet is currently near the constellation Corona Borealis, but if you can’t find that one try extending a line from the handle of the Big Dipper down towards the horizon and look for a fuzzy greenish spot. We’ll try to give updates as the comet brightens.

The American Meteor Society has finally begun posting fireball reports for 2023 and there was another big sighting last night. This one flew over Oklahoma and Texas around 1847 CST, still early evening their time, and it drew about 150 reports.

The Boulder Sunspot Number has topped 200 for the first time since we’ve been doing these reports. 201 was the official count today, and that’s up 59 from yesterday. No more X flares so far, but there have been four additional M class flares since midnight UT. Even so, the Geomagnetic field remains Quiet and the Planetary K Index is below 3. Any Auroral activity is forecast to be limited to the far northern latitudes.

The rain just keeps coming down in California and we have to issue a slight correction to yesterday’s comment about cancelling the song, “It Never Rains in Southern California.” We had forgotten about the song’s chorus which goes: “It never rains in California, but girl, don’t they warn ya? It pours, man, it pours.” (Thanks to UFO Joe’s Little ET Buddy for pointing that out.)

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 5)

In Part 4 of our review of the evolution of time measurement, we pointed out that after the invention of mechanical clocks around 1000 AD, people had a method for indicating what time it was that could, in effect, put them in control of what time it was. The time displayed on a clock was still a symbolic representation for the position of the Sun in the sky, but people were no longer dependent on actually observing the Sun. In other words, if the Sun, Moon, and stars had suddenly disappeared from view altogether, people could have kept right on telling what time it was.

This was a subtle but significant change in the nature of mankind’s relationship with the cosmos that gradually began to take the “power over time” out of the hands of the priests and astrologers and put it into the hands of scientists, machinists, and craftsmen — as well as businessmen and governmental bureaucrats, unfortunately. But we’re getting ahead of the story . . .

Previously, we mentioned that the first portable watches were made around the year 1500, which also happened to be about the time Columbus was exploring “The New World”. It was also about the time that the Prussian astronomer and mathematician Nicolaus Copernicus was formulating his theory that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the universe. The principles of Copernicus’ “heliocentric” model were known to his friends and close associates early in the 1500’s. He realized, however, that his views would be subject to scorn and rejection by church leaders, so he refused to have his major work on the subject published until 1543 – the year of his death.

Copernicus’ revolutionary worldview did not immediately raise the full furor of the church. His ideas were simply dismissed as absurd by theologians of the time, both Catholic and Protestant. Over 70 years went by before church leaders butted heads with Galileo over the issue of where the Earth and Sun stood in relation to each other and the universe, but there were at least two more developments in the 1500’s that must be mentioned before we get to Galileo.

The first development was that a Swiss clockmaker named Jost Burgi had come up with some innovations for mechanical clocks that improved their accuracy tremendously. Until now, clocks had only displayed the hour of the day. In fact, many clocks didn’t show the hours but simply rang a bell or triggered an alarm at more or less regular intervals. Thanks to Burgi’s new design, he was able to make clocks with minute hands. That was in 1577, and from then on, clocks could be made that were suitable for timing astronomical events precisely.

The names of pioneering astronomers Tycho Brahe and Johannes Kepler are more likely to be known by the average astronomer today, but they worked directly with Jost Burgi and depended on his skills in designing and constructing scientific instruments, as well as his proficiency in math, to assist with their astronomical studies. All three men have a crater on the Moon named in their honor.

So by Burgi’s time, some 1600 years had passed since Julius Caesar’s calendar was adopted, and the Leap Year was introduced to help keep the calendar on track with the Sun’s yearly cycle. But by then the Julian calendar had fallen 10 days behind schedule. This was mainly because the Greek astronomers advising Caesar were off in their calculations of how long a day lasted.

Aided by the more accurate measurements available in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII (the thirteenth) instituted a modification to the Julian Calendar that brought the calendar more in line with the annual movement of the Sun. (Of course, it was actually the movement of the Earth they were measuring and they would have known that if they’d listened to Copernicus 40 years earlier, but they didn’t.)

The image below is a “Mechanized Celestial Globe” made by Jost Burgi in 1594.

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For Tuesday, 10 January, 2023

This was the 10th day of the year with 355 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo.

It’s been 3 weeks since the December Solstice, the shortest day of the year for those of us living north of the equator. Regular listeners may remember we pointed out that although the Sun began setting later each day after the Solstice, it would also continue rising later every morning for a while. Well, tomorrow morning the Sun will finally start rising a little earlier each day, giving us more light at both ends of the candle. Tomorrow’s Sunrise will still be about 3 minutes later than it was on the Solstice, but the Sun is already setting more than 15 minutes later than it did on December 21st. These times are valid for our latitude and longitude and it might be slightly different for yours, but it’s a sign that Spring will probably be coming ‘round again before too long.

There have been 4 more M level solar flares since midnight UT. The strongest was an M5 at 0016 UT. Still no clear indications that any Coronal Mass Ejections have been sent directly towards Earth, however. Active regions are lining up on both sides of the Sun’s equator now, and todays’ Boulder Sunspot Number was 142, up 25 from yesterday. That might be the highest Sunspot count we’ve seen since we started doing these reports back in September. The planetary K Index is still struggling to rise above 3 and the Geomagnetic Field is Quiet. News Flash – an X1 solar flare has just been observed at 2240 UT. Will this one impact Earth’s magnetic field?

The American Meteor Society has finally posted some fireball reports for 2023 and there was a major sighting last night. Over 500 reports came in for a fireball event at 20 02 UT on January 9th, primarily from England. Numerous videos of the fireball captured by doorbell cameras and the like are posted on the internet.

Do you remember the song that goes, “It Never Rains in Southern California”? Well, that no longer holds true. Nearly 2 weeks of steady precipitation have produced rain measured in feet along with snowfall, lightning strikes, mudslides, sinkholes, and widespread flooding from top to bottom across the state. More than a dozen deaths have been attributed to the powerful storms so far, thousands have been forced to evacuate their homes, hundreds of thousands are presently without electricity, and millions are currently under severe weather warnings. Sadly, no end to the precipitation is in sight for the near future, and adding insult to injury, experts are saying that all this water isn’t even going to help the region’s severe drought. Happy New Year?

Dyson Spheres and Type 2 Civilization

A listener wants to know our thoughts on Dyson spheres, if humanity will ever reach type 2 civilization? Also have we detected one called Tabby’s star?

These questions raise some very complicated issues, but we’ll try to offer some very simple thoughts:

1) Starting with the question about will we ever become a Type 2 civilization?

That’s an easy one — My answer is No. We haven’t even reached the level defined as a Type 1 civilization at this point, and I think our civilization is more likely to implode and collapse back to absolute 0 before we ever make it to square 1. But to quote UFO Joe, “Hey, that’s just my opinion!”

For those who don’t know about it, the concept of Types 1, 2, and 3 civilizations was first proposed by a Soviet astronomer named Nikolai Kardashev in 1964. In its most basic terms:

A type I civilization can access and utilize all the energy available on its planet. A type II civilization can directly consume the energy of a star. A type III civilization can capture all the energy emitted by its galaxy.

Kardashev’s proposal was originally intended to give radio astronomers some possible clues for what to look for that might reveal the existence of technologically advanced civilizations in the far reaches of space. Types II and III civilizations especially should be creating patterns of energy radiation that don’t conform to any known natural activity, and our instruments on Earth might be able to detect these anomalies as signs of extraterrestrial life.

Of course it gets a lot more complicated with both scientists and science fiction writers building upon and modifying Kardashev’s original idea over the years, but it is all based on theoretical assumptions and hypothetical outlooks.

2) A Dyson sphere is, to quote from Wikipedia: “a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its solar power output.”

This concept is one possible suggestion for how a civilization could continue to thrive after its needs had exceeded all the energy resources available on its home planet. Such a system was first proposed in a 1937 science fiction novel called Star Maker by Olaf Stapleton. So by all rights it should probably be called a Stapleton sphere, but the concept was brought to mainstream science in a 1960 paper titled, “Search for Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation” by physicist Freeman Dyson, and the

megasphere got named for him. Dyson’s key contribution was to suggest that radio astronomers should be looking for unusual activity in the range of infrared energy emissions for signs of advanced technologies as predicted by Kardashev’s civilization Types.

For decades, astronomers have been searching for possible signs of technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilizations in accordance with Kardashev’s and Dyson’s theories. They’ve found some interesting candidates but would always rule them out after getting better information, or simply ruling their best information inconclusive.

3) Now things start to get a little fuzzy with the answer to the listener’s question about “Tabby’s Star”:

There’s a star about 1,470 light years from Earth that has been observed since at least 1890. It’s too faint to see with the naked eye, but it is visible with good backyard type telescopes.

Based on observations by the Kepler Space Telescope, this star was found to display some very unusual variations in its luminosity. An astronomer named Tabetha Boyajian was the lead author of a paper discussing these unusual variations, and the star was given the nickname “Tabby’s Star”.

After looking at many possible solutions for the changes observed in the light output coming from Tabby’s Star, it seems the most likely explanation is that there is “an uneven ring of space dust” circling the planet. Scientists have supposedly considered the possibility that the unique variations with Tabby’s Star could be due to a Dyson Sphere, but they have been quick to rule it out because, quoting from Wikipedia again:

“Researchers found less dimming in the infrared light from the star than in its ultraviolet light. Any object larger than dust particles would dim all wavelengths of light equally when passing in front of Tabby’s Star.” — NASA, 4 October 2017

In other words, the NASA scientists seem to be assuming that they know what the properties of a Dyson Sphere would be and how light would behave in the presence of one. But as far as I can tell we haven’t actually built a Dyson Sphere ourselves, at best we’re still several thousand years from being able to do so, and we really shouldn’t presume to know what form it might take and what it would be made of.

NASA might be right of course, and they often (but not always) are, but this seems like a good time to bring in the immortal words of former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld who said:

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we don’t know we don’t know.”

So the bottom line is . . . who knows?

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For Monday, 9 January, 2023

This was the 9th day of the year with 356 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Leo, moving into Virgo.

We’re about three nights past the Full Wolf Moon now. The Waxing Gibbous Moon will still be dominating the late night sky this week, but since the Moon will be rising later after Sunset each night, the early evenings should be good for watching the stars and planets. In particular, Venus is setting a full hour and a half after the Sun goes down now, and it’s shining brightly low in the western sky as darkness falls. Saturn is following about an hour behind Venus, so it’s currently a little higher and more to the southeast. If you can spot these two planets around 6:00 PM local time in the evenings ahead, be sure to make a mental note of where they are in relation to each other because they will be drawing closer together every night and will actually cross paths on the night of the 22nd.

Our Sun has let loose with about half a dozen M Class solar flares since Friday, and around 1850 UT today an X1.9 flare was observed. X flares are 10 times more powerful than M’s by the way, and each letter designation is further rated from 1 to 9. So an M9 flare is approaching the power of an X1. There aren’t any categories beyond X but there can be flares more powerful than X 9, so the numerical designation can go higher for them. According to NASA, a flare that occurred in 2003 overloaded the sensors at X 28, so today’s X 1.9 is not all that remarkable, but it could be a sign of things to come as the current solar cycle continues to build.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 117, up 14 from Friday. For now it doesn’t appear that any of the flares mentioned above fired Coronal Mass Ejections directly at the Earth, but it usually takes a few days before the full impact of a flare reaches us, so stay tuned for more. The Planetary K Index is currently at 2 and the geomagnetic field is classified as Quiet.

A 7.0 Magnitude earthquake struck near the remote South Pacific island chain of Vanuatu at 1232 UT on Sunday January 8th. That was the strongest quake we’ve seen in a while, but today, just a few hours ago as we write this, a 7.6 Magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia. The technical term for a 7.6 earthquake is “a Whopper”. People as far as Australia felt strong shaking from this quake, but at this time we can’t find any reports of damage or injuries.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 4)

The development of modern mechanized clocks began with European Christian Monks who needed a way to alert themselves and others when it was time for prayers and services. This seems rather fitting since it had always been the priests, shamans, and tribal holy men that were tasked with guarding the secrets of time.

Most sources credit a former shepherd boy from France named Gerbert of Aurillac as the maker of the first mechanical clock. As an adult, Gerbert was a world class astronomer, mathematician, musician, inventor, and all-around scholar. He is even known to have constructed an artificial metallic head that was somehow able to answer questions verbally. He became a Benedictine monk and ultimately, in April of the year 999 AD, Gerbert of Aurillac was appointed to the Papacy and served as Pope Sylvester II until his death four years later.

That’s right, the prototypes of clocks we use in the Modern Age were designed and built by none other than a one-time shepherd boy who became the Pope over a thousand years ago. Truth really is stranger than fiction sometimes.

Details on the construction of Gerbert’s clocks are sketchy, but they are thought to have been driven by weights. His jealous rivals in the church claimed that Gerbert’s superior knowledge was obtained through witchcraft and that his clocks were being run by the Devil, but those theories were generally dismissed after he became the Pope.

The art of clock making was dominated by Christian monks for several centuries. Their clocks were primarily used in church clock towers, and the construction quality and accuracy was continually being improved along the way. One of the oldest mechanical clocks still in existence was built by a 14th century monk named Peter Lightfoot.

A German locksmith named Peter Henlein is widely credited for making the first watch, a miniature timekeeping piece designed for personal use. Henlein wasn’t a monk, but he did spend about four years in a Franciscan Monastery at Nuremberg where he was receiving sanctuary against accusations of having killed another locksmith. During his time at the monastery he learned the intricacies of clock making, and in 1505 he made his first watch. It is now considered the oldest existing watch in the world, and it still works!

We’ve been zooming through the history of time measurement at warp speed, but it took humanity about 4,000 years to go from calendars that were accurate within a few days per year to mechanical clocks that could measure smaller intervals of the day in a standardized fashion. Mechanical clocks could show the time even when the Sun wasn’t shining, and you didn’t have to be a priest, shaman, or astronomer to be able to tell exactly what time it was. Mechanical locks were still just an approximation of time relative to the Sun, Moon and stars but now, for the first time, human activities could be put under the control of something that was itself under the control of humans. Think about it . . .

The illustration below depicts “Pope Sylvester II and the Devil” in an illustration circa 1460 AD.

(In a future series of special reports we might explore whether Sylvester really was in cahoots with the Devil, or if he might have been a time traveler or an alien.)

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For Friday, 6 January, 2023

This was the 6th day of the year with 359 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Full Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Gemini and the astro-Logical sign of Cancer.

This is the night of the Full Wolf Moon, so don’t be surprised if you hear wolves howling in the distance all night long. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the January Full Moon is also referred to as the Canada Goose Moon, the Spirit Moon, the Frost Exploding Moon, and other interesting nicknames depending on which Native American tribe you ask. This particular Full Moon is also being called a “mini-moon” because the Moon is near its farthest point from the Earth now so it will appear slightly smaller than it usually does – the opposite of a “Super Moon” in other words.

A new celestial object currently in need of a catchy nickname is Comet 2022 E3 ZTF. You may have been hearing a lot about this comet from various media sources lately, but unless you are an experienced astronomer with a better than average telescope, don’t expect it to make a big impression. It might (emphasis on might) become barely visible to the naked eye later this month, but for now if you are interested in seeing it try sweeping the northeastern sky with a good pair of binoculars early in the morning about an hour or two before the sun comes up. If you think you see something that looks like a fuzzy green spot that’s probably it.

Still no fireball sightings officially logged for 2023 on the American Meteor Society’s website, but glancing through their long list of “pending reports” suggests that a lot of people in Italy saw something unusual last night. Many Californians also submitted sighting reports for something seen around 11:00 PM their time.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 103, up 17 from yesterday. The first X class Flare of the year was observed from a sunspot group that has just emerged from the left edge of the sun. The flare occurred at 0057 UT January 6, but since the erupting sunspot is not yet facing the Earth directly, no major effect to the geomagnetic field is expected. If the region remains active over the next several days the next X flare could be more interesting, however.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 3 1/2)

When we started looking into the question about the effects of Earth’s recent speed-up we didn’t expect that there would be much effect at all. After all, the speed of the Earth’s rotation has always varied. The changes are so small it’s only been in relatively recent years that we could even measure the day to day differences – just thousandths of a second each day. But thousandths of a second add up to hundredths, tenths and even full seconds over the course of a few years. That’s enough of a difference to cause headaches for software developers, shipping services, global financial markets, and the international bureaucrats in charge of deciding what to do about an extra second here or a missing second there, but it still doesn’t seem like it should really matter much to the average person. However . . .

After further review, we have come to the conclusion that the current problem with time is a red flag warning signal that we are coming to the end of an age. As sure as it happened to the Kingdoms of ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire, the Maya and the Aztecs, the Aborigines of Australia, and the Dynasties of China, it is happening to us right now.

Our civilization is, to put it quite simply and very literally, “running out of time.”

Yep, the end is near. So the next question is, how close are we to the beginning?

Tune in next week to find out.

Queen Elizabeth II observing basket weaving by First Nations women in Canada, circa 1959 AD.

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For Thursday, 5 January, 2023

This was the 5th day of the year with 360 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Gemini and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini moving into Cancer.

The nearly Full Moon has moved away from Mars and Aldeberan, but it is still positioned above Orion the Hunter, one of the most recognizable and interesting constellations. There’s also something new in the sky we plan to be looking at soon, but we’ll wait until the Moon isn’t quite so bright to talk about it.

Where have all the fireballs gone? Over a week has passed since the American Meteor Society has officially logged any new reports. Has anyone seen a bright meteor lately?

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 86, down 3 from yesterday. No strong flares so far today, but we are in a stream of solar wind that seems to be intensifying. The Geomagnetic Field has been Quiet and the Planetary K Index is currently around 3, but we could be in for some solar surprises from the new sunspot regions that are just beginning to turn our way.

A 5.9 magnitude rocked Afghanistan and surrounding countries at 1425 UT today. This was the strongest earthquake observed so far this year, but it struck in a mountainous area and apparently did not do significant damage.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 3)

In last night’s segment we covered a few million years’ worth of history about mankind’s attempts to measure time with calendars. By creating calendar systems based on the predictable patterns of the Sun, Moon and stars, our ancestors were able to graduate from hunting and foraging for food and scrounging for whatever shelter nature might provide, to cultivating their own crops, building pyramids and cathedrals, and eventually creating a global civilization filled with technological marvels. We pointed out that the most advanced cultures always had the most advanced time keeping systems, and tonight we hypothesize that it didn’t just happen that way by accident.

So far, we’ve focused on calendars that mark days of the year, but what about hours, minutes and seconds? People had been measuring the smaller intervals of each day with such things as vessels that dripped water at a constant rate, candles that burned for a standard amount of time, shadow stick clocks, etc. Then, around 1500 BC, the Egyptians came up with the first true sundials, and these would be considered the ultimate in time keeping accuracy for centuries to come. Those Egyptians really were at the top of the class when it came to measuring time, but once they had taken it about as far as they could, their civilization fizzled.

The next big advance in time measurement was the hourglass. Hourglasses provided a very accurate and consistent method for gaging smaller intervals of time. They didn’t require sunlight, they were easier to mass produce than sundials, and they were definitely more portable.

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the first hourglass was made by a French Monk in the 8th century AD, but they didn’t come into widespread use until around the 1300’s. Hourglasses were especially useful on ships at sea since the rocking of the boat didn’t affect their accuracy. The great ocean voyages of The Age of Discovery were, to a very real extent, made possible by a version of the hourglass that’s referred to as a “marine sandglass.” There’s an incredible but apparently true story about Christopher Columbus and his hourglass that illustrates our theory of whoever has the best system for keeping time will survive and conquer.

It seems Columbus was on his fourth and final voyage to the New World when the ships under his command were damaged and had to be abandoned. He and his entire crew found themselves stranded on the island that is now called Jamaica. After several months had gone by, relations between the sailors and the native Arawak Indians were getting more than a little testy. Columbus knew that he and his men could not survive without the support of the island’s natives, so he came up with a plan that sounds like something the Professor from Gilligan’s Island might have thought of.

Columbus had an almanac that was filled with detailed information about the positions of the various celestial bodies which he used for navigational purposes. He knew from the almanac that a total Lunar Eclipse was going to occur on the evening of February 29, 1504. (Interestingly enough, that just happened to be the Leap Day of a Leap Year as prescribed by Julius Caesar’s calendar system that we talked about last night.)

Well, Columbus told the Arawak Chief that god was very angry about the way his men were being treated and when the Moon came up that night it was going to be “inflamed with wrath” as a sign of the evil things that were going to befall the Arawaks if they didn’t keep the Europeans supplied with food and shelter.

When the Full Moon rose on the designated night it already appeared to have a slice missing and it did appear to be turning fiery red in color. The Arawaks were struck with fear and awe and begged Columbus for mercy. At that point the Admiral went into his quarters and began carefully counting the back and forth turns of his hourglass to determine exactly when the eclipse would be ending. He came back outside at just the right moment to assure the Chief that god was going to spare them, and the Moon immediately started going back to looking like its normal bright self.

So his trick worked and Columbus and crew were taken care of until a rescue ship arrived and carried them back to Spain about 6 months later. We’d like to add that everyone lived happily ever after, but as you know, only the side with the most advanced time keeping system came out ahead in this story.

The image below is a detail from the fresco entitled “The Allegory of Good Government” painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti between February 1338 and May 1339 AD. Temperance is holding a 14th century hourglass.

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For Wednesday, 4 January, 2023

This was the 4th day of the year with 361 days remaining. The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini.

The Earth reached its closest point of the year to the Sun today. At 1600 UT, or 11:00 AM EST, we were about 3 million miles closer to it than we will be at the most distant point in our elliptical orbit on July 6th. The nearly full Moon will appear high in the southern sky and directly above the constellation Orion tonight. Mars is also hovering nearby, and teaming up with Aldeberan, the Red Giant star that is the eye of Taurus the Bull.

The Quadrantid meteor shower has peaked, but it is considered active until the middle of the month. Early risers can still look toward the north-east in the predawn hours for any stray Quadrantids. Curiously, the American Meteor Society hasn’t posted any new fireball sightings since December 28th. It looks like they have accumulated over 100 reports from the New Year but these are still listed as “pending”, so we may have a lot of catching up to do in the fireball department soon.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 89, down 5 from yesterday. The Geomagnetic field was at minor storm levels in the early hours of the morning. This was due to the effects of an M3 solar flare that occurred on December 30th. Observers in the northern US and southern Canada were treated to some vivid Auroral displays last night, and the official forecast calls for more of the same tonight. The Planetary K Index is currently below 3 however, below its forecasted value, so the Aurora may not extend as far south tonight — but some potential is still there.

The entire planet continues to be rumbling with earthquakes today. None have been extreme today, but the USGS map currently shows there have been 45 quakes between 2.5 and 5.4 magnitude over the past 24 hours.

Last night we began our investigation into the recent speeding up of the Earth’s rotation, and how this might affect our clocks. Tonight we’re going to explore some historical aspects concerning the measurement of time.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 2)

For the first few million years that humans walked the earth, if someone asked, “what time is it?” there were really just two possible answers: Day Time or Night Time. It would have been a silly question anyway, because unless you were blind or couldn’t get out of your cave for some reason, all you had to do was look and see if the sun was shining to tell which time it was. But once our ancient ancestors began to advance beyond primitive hunting and gathering lifestyles, they started to think they needed more refinements in their demarcation of time. That’s when studying the movements of the Sun, the Moon and the stars began to be so important.

Having a better definition for “what time is it” meant that you could plan your cultural activities more effectively and efficiently. Everything from planting and harvesting your crops, to building pyramids or performing your human sacrifices could be done in a more organized and predictable manner. All of the more advanced civilizations came up with equally advanced methods for marking the time. Whether they were building massive stone monuments like Stonehenge, or developing a complicated calendar system like the Maya, the more technologically advanced a cultural group was, the more sophisticated their system of keeping time had to be. Even so, it still came down to following the movements of the Sun, the Moon and the stars.

As populations grew, travel and trade routes expanded, and governmental and religious authorities exerted their power over larger geographical regions, it became increasingly necessary to have a system for measuring time that everybody understood and lived by. Numerous systems came and went, but the Egyptians are credited with devising the first 365 day calendar nearly 5,000 years ago.

Based on the solar year, the Egyptian calendar was fundamentally similar to the calendars in common use today. There were twelve months with 30 days each, plus five extra days tacked on at the end of the year to end up with a total of 365 days. But the Egyptians didn’t make any provision for the extra ¼ of a day that it takes for the Earth to complete an orbit around the Sun every year. As a result, their calendar didn’t stay in sync with astronomical observations for very long. They came up with a work-around plan for dealing with this that involved a secondary calendar and phases of the Moon, but we won’t get into all that here. The point is that losing track of about 6 hours every year was OK with the ancient Egyptians, and their calendar was the gold standard of calendars for several thousand years.

Now, fast forward to about 45 BC when Julius Caesar was the Roman Dictator. Rome had been using a Moon-based calendar that had gotten so out of whack with the seasons that Caesar, with the help of some Greek mathematicians and astronomers, came up with a new and improved version of Egypt’s Sun-based calendar. Their new calendar kept the twelve months per year concept, but they added a day to some of the months and took two away from February in order to end up with 365 and avoid those five homeless days the Egyptians were stuck with at the end of each year. But more importantly, Caesar decreed that an extra day would be added to February once every four years to account for the extra 1/4 day in a true solar year. So voila, the concept of a Leap Year was born, and the Julian calendar, as it came to be known, became the predominant calendar of the western world for the next 1,600 years or so.

We hope we’re not boring you too much with all this ancient history, but we really are leading up to something, so be sure to tune in again tomorrow

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For Tuesday, 3 January, 2023

This was the 3rd day of the year with 362 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini.

We talked about the Quadrantid meteor shower last night. It is the first meteor shower of the year and the last major meteor shower until mid-April. The Quadrantids are predicted to peak overnight tonight or early tomorrow morning. Try looking towards the north-east after the Moon has set and before the Sun comes up, which should be between about 5:30 and 6:30 AM your local time. If you’re lucky enough to have clear dark skies and happen to be looking when the Quadrantids are at their absolute maximum, you could see up to 100 meteors per hour.

On the other hand, if like me, you are under heavy cloud cover tonight, you might try “listening” for meteors on an FM radio. The technique works best with a digital radio that has an external antenna, and also if you live in an area that’s not saturated with strong local FM stations. The trick is to tune to a frequency where you don’t hear a nearby station coming in, preferably at the lower end of the FM band. If something suddenly breaks through with a strong and slightly distorted signal for just a second or two, chances are it reached you after bouncing off a meteor’s ionized plasma trail and originated at some broadcasting tower hundreds of miles away.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 94, that’s exactly the same as yesterday. A violent and long-lasting explosion was observed coming from a sunspot region on the far side of the Sun early today. The region that sparked this activity will be rotating into earth view in the next few days. The Geomagnetic field has been quiet today. The Planetary K Index has been hovering around 2 but activity may be on the rise for tomorrow.

The graphic below is a still shot of the explosion that occurred on the far side of the Sun on the morning of January 3, 2023, as recorded by LASCO, the Large Angle Spectroscopic Coronagraph.

Special Report on Time and the Earth’s Rotation (Part 1)

Recently a listener wrote in to say they heard that the Earth’s rotation is speeding up and this might interfere with our clocks. Well, it turns out this is actually true, and it could eventually impact our lives in ways you would never expect . . .

For starters though, the Earth’s rotational speed has been known to be gradually slowing down ever since we’ve been able to measure the tiny daily differences. It’s only about a thousandth of a second per day, give or take a few ten thousandths of a second. To find that the Earth would be slowing down shouldn’t too surprising. After all, most things tend to move a little slower as they get older. Just think, a few billion years ago our young planet was spinning so fast a day only lasted about 19 hours!

The thing is, in recent years scientists noticed that the Earth had mysteriously started spinning faster again. June 29th, 2022 was the shortest day ever observed since they started keeping records back in the 1960’s. Various theories for the Earth’s speed-up are being tossed around, but there really isn’t a clear-cut explanation for it. (On a personal note, however, I suspect it might have something to do with all the rockets Elon Musk is shooting into space!)

At any rate, the increase in speed is still just a little more than a thousandth of a second per day, and that might not sound like a big deal. However, when you live in a world where fractions of a second can impact a vast range of high-tech operations, it begins to take on some pretty serious consequences.

To be clear, the potential problems we’re facing aren’t strictly due to the recent speed up. That does present an unprecedented challenge to our time keeping systems, but the fundamental issue is that the Earth simply does not spin at a rate that is as consistent and reliable as our modern atomic clocks. And in the 21st century, atomic clocks rule our everyday lives.

We’ll have more to say about this at the same time tomorrow . . .

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For Monday, 2 January, 2023

This was the 2nd day of the year with 363 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Taurus, moving into Gemini.

The first major meteor shower of the year, the Quadrantids, is predicted to peak around 0400 UT on the morning of Wednesday January 4th. Meteor showers are usually named for the constellation that the meteors appear to radiate from, but the Quadrantids were named for a constellation that is no longer officially recognized by astronomers. The modern constellation that correlates to the Quadrantids is Bootes “the Herdsman.” If you’re not familiar with Bootes just look for the star at the very end of the handle in the Big Dipper and that will put you close enough to the radiant zone for the Quadrantid meteors.

The Quadrantid meteors can actually show up just about anywhere in the sky, but their trails can always be traced back to the area of the radiant. In practical terms, this means the best way to view them will be to look north-eastward during the wee hours of the morning. Since a bright Moon will be in the sky for most of the peak night this year, there’s a very narrow window for optimum viewing — specifically after the Moon has set and before the Sun comes up. So try looking between about 4:00-6:30 AM your local time tomorrow morning, and from about 5:00-6:30 AM on Wednesday morning.

If you prefer to do your sky watching a little earlier in the evening though, be sure to catch the Waxing Gibbous Moon near the Pleiades star cluster tonight. The Red planet Mars and the Red Giant Star Aldeberan are also close by. Saturn and Jupiter are still up there as well, although Saturn is setting around 8:00 PM local time now. Jupiter will be one of the brightest objects in the night sky (second only to the Moon) until after 11:00 PM local time.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 94, that’s down 19 from Friday. Even though it seems to us the sunspot numbers have been rather hum-drum lately, it turns out that sunspot numbers have exceeded the predicted expectations every single month since they started climbing back from the low point in the solar cycle nearly three years ago. 2023 is on track to be a very active year for the Sun. This could be great news for people interested in viewing the Aurora, not necessarily such good news in most other ways, however. The Planetary K Index was ranging between 3 and 4 for most of the weekend, but it has subsided below 2 today, so any Auroral activity tonight will probably be restricted to the far northern latitudes. The situation could change by tomorrow night though, so stay tuned for more.

A 5.4 earthquake shook the northern California town of Rio Dell at 1835 UT yesterday, or about 10:35 AM PST on New Year’s Day. Rio Dell is close to Ferndale, the town that was hit by a 6.4 quake on December 20th. Generally speaking, it does appear that seismic activity has been picking up over the past few days with several registering higher than 5.0. In fact, four new quakes have appeared across the globe just in the time we’ve been typing this paragraph – whoops – make that 5 new earthquakes!

The graphic below shows all the earthquakes recorded by the USGS greater than 2.5 magnitude that have occurred within the past 24 hours. The red circles indicate quakes that have occurred within the past 1 hour — and I don’t think I’ve ever seen more than 2 or maybe 3 red circles at once before.

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For Friday, 30 December, 2022

This was the 364th day of the year with only 1 day remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Pisces and the astro-Logical sign of Aries.

The recent months have offered some exceptional opportunities for sky watching. There have been multiple meteor showers, a partial Solar eclipse, a total Lunar eclipse, and a rare Lunar occultation of Mars. Jupiter came closer to the Earth than it has in almost 60 years. This has also been a truly exceptional period for being able to observe all five naked-eye planets in one evening’s viewing session. (Make that 6 naked-eye planets if you count the Earth itself!)

There has been significant Auroral activity for high latitude observers, many widely reported fireball sightings around the world, and a meteorite was observed in advance of its crashing into Canada’s Lake Ontario.

In September NASA performed a close-up flyby of Saturn’s moon Europa, then they blasted an asteroid with a DART thrown from 7 million miles away. In November they finally took the first step in the next generation attempt to put humans on the Moon with the Artemis I mission. New Near Earth Asteroids that could potentially strike the Earth are being discovered practically every day, and on Tuesday we witnessed the first ever attempt to probe a Near Earth Asteroid with relatively low frequency radar signals in an effort to better understand the composition of these objects.

In the past few months we’ve seen three hurricanes of historic proportions, and numerous other deadly storms that have caused widespread deaths, damage and disruptions across the world. There have been many strong earthquakes (and many smaller magnitude quakes in historically rare locations) and the first eruption of Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano since 1984.

All of the things listed above have happened in the three months since our State of the Earth Reports began airing on Yourufoshow.com. Coincidence or conspiracy? You be the judge!

The New Year will start off with another major meteor shower. The Quadrantid meteor shower is already active and it is predicted to peak on the night of January 3-4. We’ll have more to say about the Quadrantids next week, but if you’re out late at night over the New Year’s holiday weekend be sure to keep an eye to the sky for any early meteor arrivals.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 113, up 25 from yesterday. Active sunspot regions are coming into Earth’s view soon, and two more M class solar flares were observed today. The Geomagnetic field has been at minor storm levels with the Planetary K Index peaking at 5 before subsiding slightly. High latitude regions are likely to experience Auroral activity overnight, and Auroras could even be visible across the northern tier of US states.

Happy New Year everyone!

The graphic below shows the potential viewing areas for Aurora’s tonight.

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For Thursday, 29 December, 2022

This was the 363rd day of the year with only 2 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The First Quarter Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Cetus and the astro-Logical sign of Aries.

The Moon reached its 1st Quarter phase at 8:21 PM EST, just a few minutes before Yourufoshow began. At that moment the side of the Moon facing Earth would have appeared exactly 50% illuminated. By the time the show ends tonight it will be about 50.5% illuminated. Jupiter will be positioned to the west (or right) of the Moon tonight, a complete flip-flop from last night’s view.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 88, down 1 from yesterday. Two M class Solar flares were detected today, but they were from sunspot areas not directly facing the Earth, so little to no impact from them is expected. The Planetary K Index has risen to 3 for most of the day however, and that’s significantly higher than the values below 1 seen late last night and early this morning. Auroral activity could extend into southern parts of Canada overnight.

Our planet seems to be taking a break from extreme seismic activity this month. There have only been five earthquakes of 6.0 or greater magnitude in December, with the strongest being a 6.8 in the Samoa Islands region on December 4th. With the notable exception of a 6.4 quake near Ferndale, California on the 20th , most of December’s strong quakes occurred in areas of low population density and did not cause extensive damage. The Mauna Loa volcano that erupted on November 27th has been officially declared to be no longer erupting, and we have not heard of any other unusual volcanic activity for several weeks.

Is this the new normal or just the calm before the storm?

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For Wednesday, 28 December, 2022

This was the 362nd day of the year with only 3 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces, moving into Aries.

The planets Venus and Mercury will appear very close together low on the western horizon as darkness begins to fall after the Sun goes down. Mercury will be setting earlier in the days ahead, and the sun will be setting later, so pretty soon Mercury won’t be visible to us again for quite a while. Sky watchers should be able to spot Venus easily, but binoculars might be needed to find tiny Mercury hovering close by. Saturn will be positioned a little higher in the southwestern sky, and tonight the crescent moon will be below and to the west of Jupiter until late in the evening.

No new fireball sightings were posted by the American Meteor Society today, but many new reports were filed for the fireball seen across Europe fter 2100 UT on December 26th. The total count of sighting reports for that one is up to 67 now.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 89, down 7 from yesterday. For months now we’ve been watching active sunspot regions go dormant as soon as they rotate toward the Earth, and that seems to be happening again. The spots that produced multiple M flares yesterday could barely manage minor C class flares today, and the Planetary K Index has fallen around 1. There is still a chance of Auroral activity tonight, but the viewing areas will probably be well north of the US – Canada border.

The HAARP Asteroid Bounce experiment we mentioned on Monday seems to have been executed as planned. HAMs and SWL’ers from around the world have reported hearing the chirping signal being transmitted by HAARP’s powerful antenna array in Alaska. Time will tell if the 9.6 MHz radar-style transmissions have revealed any useful information about the nature of asteroid 2010 XC15. If so, we can probably expect more such experiments in advance of the bigger and potentially much more dangerous asteroid that’s coming our way in April of 2029.

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HAARP audio signal ping of 12-27-22

I might have been receiving the HAARP signal bouncing off the BlueWalker 3 satellite — the satellite with the gigantic antenna array that we’ve mentioned in the State of the Earth Report several times.

The BlueWalker satellite was passing overhead between the HAARP site in Alaska and my location in Virginia at exactly the time I was hearing the signal yesterday morning. (Between about 1114 -1117 EST.).

I heard the signal again several times later in the day but it was never quite as strong and steady as that first one.

The graphic below shows the path of BlueWalker 3 during the time of my HAARP reception:

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For Tuesday, 27 December, 2022

This was the 361st day of the year with only 4 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces.

Europe continues to be reporting more meteor fireballs than other regions. About 40 observers reported a fireball seen at 2104 UT on December 26 across Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Italy, Germany and Switzerland. Another fireball had been seen over approximately the same area just a few hours earlier, and a third was seen over France and Spain a few hours later.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 96, down 11 from yesterday. Two M class solar flares were detected early this morning and another one this afternoon, but these were from sunspots that are not directly facing the Earth so little or no impact is expected from them. The situation could change if these regions remain active as they rotate towards Earth over the next few days. We are still experiencing the effects from a Coronal Mass Ejection that occurred on Christmas Eve and the Planetary K Index has been in the Unsettled range, hovering around 4 most of the day today, but it has recently subsided below 3.

Predictions for viewing the Aurora are slightly less favorable than yesterday, but there is still a possibility for seeing Auroral activity as far south as the US-Canadian border.

Meanwhile, south of the border, an Arctic blast has brought frigid temperatures and rare snowfall to parts of northern Mexico and even Mexico City. Sources say this is only the third time snow has been recorded in Mexico City, the other times being in 1940 and 1967.

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For Monday, 26 December, 2022

This was the 360th day of the year with only 5 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricornus and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius, moving into Pisces.

The Waxing Crescent Moon will be positioned very close to the planet Saturn this evening, and the pair will best be viewed before 8:00 PM local time. Venus and Mercury will be close together near the western horizon right after sunset, but Mercury will soon be slipping too close to the Sun to be visible to us again for a while.

No widely seen meteor fireballs were logged by the American Meteor Society over the weekend, but the two most reported events were both seen over France. About 17 people reported the first fireball at 2204 UT on the 24th, and 19 reports were for another that occurred at 1732 UT on the 25th.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 107, down 1 from Friday. We have been experiencing an influx of high speed solar particles that are producing unsettled to minor storm conditions in Earth’s Geomagnetic field. The Planetary K Index was at 5 around 1300 UT today, and further intensification of the Geomagnetic field is possible for tomorrow. There is a potential for the Aurora to be visible into the northern tier of states along the Canadian border tonight.

The winter storm that impacted much of the US and Canada over the Christmas weekend left millions of people without electricity and thousands stranded in airports and on the roads. A few more inches of snow from a fast moving Alberta Clipper will be falling in areas of the north central and Great Lakes regions before moving into the north east tomorrow, but conditions for most of the country will be improving and temperatures rising by mid-week.

Short Wave Radio Listeners may be interested to learn that the HAARP facility in Alaska will beam a powerful radio signal at an asteroid tomorrow in an effort to learn more about its interior composition. HAARP is the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program that began conducting experiments related to military communication techniques and the ionosphere back in the 1990’s. The facility is capable of transmitting up to 3.6 million watts of concentrated radio frequency power into the ionosphere, and it became very controversial for doing so. Conspiracy theories arose concerning potential unwanted side-effects to the weather, detrimental health impacts, and even that the transmissions were being used for mind control experiments. In 2013 it was announced that HAARP was being shut down and the experiments were said to have ended around 2014, so we were surprised to find out today that instead of being dismantled, the facility was handed over to the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, and its research operations have been continuing all along.

At any rate, the asteroid that HAARP will be “pinging” tomorrow is designated as 2010 XC15. It is estimated to be about 500 feet across and will be approaching us at about twice the distance to the Moon tomorrow. Sources say that HAARP will transmit a chirping signal to asteroid 2010 XC15 on 9.6 Megahertz, with the chirp repeating at two-second intervals. The exact time is subject to change depending on conditions. More information about HAARP and this upcoming experiment can be found on the web.

A graphic from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center shows where the Aurora is forecast to most likely be visible tonight.

For Friday, 23 December, 2022

This was the 357th day of the year with only 8 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The New Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagitarius and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn.

The Moon was at its New Phase today, which means it is too close to the Sun to be visible, but tomorrow night you might be able to spot a very thin sliver of the Waxing Crescent Moon low in the west about half an hour after sunset. You will need clear skies and a clear view of the horizon to see it, and binoculars might be helpful, but if you can see the Moon on Christmas Eve you should also be able to spot Mercury standing nearby and above it, plus Venus shining a little lower in the west at the same time. The group should make for a very nice photo opportunity.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 108, up 5 from yesterday. As of this morning we were still under the influence of a stream of high speed solar particles that has created unsettled conditions in Earth’s Geomagnetic field. No extreme solar activity is expected over the weekend, but observers in far northern latitudes should be on the lookout for possible Auroral activity.

The Chinese space station Tiangong, with three “Taikonauts” aboard will be making some early morning passes over the southeastern and southwestern US early on Christmas morning. The International Space Station has three Astronauts and three Cosmonauts onboard, and note that none of them have a safe way to get back to Earth at the moment because of the coolant leak issues with the Soyuz craft that is currently docked with the ISS. Residents of the Pacific Northwest and western Canada might see the ISS fly over their way early on Christmas morning.

Extreme and unusual weather conditions are at work across the globe today. Much of the US and Canada will be experiencing record-breaking cold temperatures, and in fact we’ve seen one report saying that it will be colder in some parts of the US than on Mars today. Frozen precipitation, high winds, power outages and travel cancellations will be affecting millions of people over the holiday period.

Even Hawaii will be having a white Christmas this year. The highest volcano summits on the Big Island have experienced blizzard conditions over the past few days. The photo below shows a snow plow working to clear the road to the Mauna Kea observatory, which is just across the island from the Mauna Loa observatory that has been inaccessible because of lava flows ever since the volcanic eruption there in late November.

Try to stay safe and warm wherever you are – on Earth or in outer space – and Happy Holidays from Jim Hale’s State of the Earth Report!

A snow plow near Mauna Kea, Hawaii:

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For Thursday, 22 December, 2022

This was the 356th day of the year with only 9 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiucus and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius.

A Near Earth Object that wasn’t on anybody’s watch list yesterday flew past the Earth slightly closer than the Moon today. The newly detected asteroid was designated 2022 YG2. It was estimated to be between 5 and 12 meters in size and made its closest approach to us around 1805 UT.

A few weeks ago we talked about the meteor that struck Mars and sent big chunks of water ice to the surface. More recently we mentioned another Marsquake that wasn’t caused by a meteor but was the most powerful Marsquake ever observed and led scientists to revise their previous theories about the surface structure of Mars. And just within the past few days you may have heard about a Martian lander getting an audio recording of a dust devil swirling nearby – audio clips of this event can be found on the internet. Well, it turns out that all of these observations and many more, were made by one landing craft, namely NASA’s InSight lander.

InSight is the name for the “Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations Geodesy and Heat Transport” lander, which has been parked on Mars and making observations since 2018. Now sadly, after 4 years of sitting in one spot on the red planet, InSight’s solar panels have gotten so covered in Martian dust they are no longer able to charge the batteries that keep InSight’s instruments and communication systems working. Barring some unforeseen Martian Christmas miracle, we won’t be hearing from InSight again. (Maybe NASA should consider including a Roomba Robot Vacuum cleaner on its next Mars mission?)

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 103, down 16 from yesterday. The Geomagnetic field has been Quiet but the Planetary K Index has been trending upward this afternoon. The K Index is currently between 3 and 4.

We haven’t seen any extreme earthquakes so far today, but there was another in the category of unusual places for one. A 2.5 quake was centered near the small city of Fostoria, Ohio, in the north central region of the state. That’s a relatively minor earthquake, but hundreds of people in the area reported feeling it. Sources say the last earthquake that was centered in Ohio happened in December of 2021, near Manchester at the southern end of the Buckeye State.

Today we have two images showing the InSight Mars lander. The first was taken on December 9, 2018, the 14th day of its mission. This image gives a panoramic look at the Martian landscape from InSight’s viewpoint, and you can see one of the lander’s nice clean solar panel arrays in the foreground. The second image was taken in April of this year on day 1,211 of the mission, with the entire lander and both its solar arrays coated in Martian dust.

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For Wednesday, 21 December, 2022

This was the 355th day of the year with only 10 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpios and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius.

The planet Mercury reached its greatest Eastern elongation today. The tiny planet will be at an optimal viewpoint once the sky has sufficiently darkened after sunset. Venus will be shining close by, closer to the horizon and a little farther to the west. Saturn and Jupiter will be visible until late in the evening and Mars will be brightly shining until about an hour before the Sun comes up. The Moon is now absent from the night sky but if you’re an early riser you might glimpse a thin sliver of the Waning Crescent Moon coming up in the east tomorrow about half an hour before the Sun rises.

Today is the Winter Solstice for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. The days will gradually start getting longer now, so it may seem counter-intuitive to think that this is the first day of Winter and our coldest months are still ahead. It might also seem counterintuitive to hear that the Earth is actually closer to the Sun during the Northern Hemisphere’s Winter – we will actually reach our closest orbital point to the Sun on January 4th. Of course, if you’re among the 10-12% of the world’s population that lives in the Southern Hemisphere, then in the words of the late Nat King Cole, roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of Summer.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 119, down 13 from yesterday. The sunspots that were flaring so actively last week are rotating out of view now, but new clusters of spots that look to be potentially active are coming around from the other side of the Sun. One of these spots produced an M1 level flare yesterday, but the sun has remained relatively calm so far today. High speed solar particles streaming from coronal holes are beginning to reach the Earth and produced active Auroras in the far northern latitudes overnight. Similar displays could happen again tonight, but at the moment the Planetary K Index has subsided below 2 and the Geomagnetic field is Quiet.

The area of northern California that was hit by a 6.4 earthquake early yesterday morning has experienced numerous aftershocks and they are still continuing. Other areas of California have also felt minor quakes today, as have Nevada, Idaho, and Texas. Fortunately these were all in the 2.6 to 3.9 category, so relatively mild, but there was also a 4.6 quake centered about 200 miles off the coast of Oregon.

While much of the US is currently bracing for winter storms with high winds, rain, snow, freezing rain, and sub-freezing temperatures, other areas of the world – especially in the southern hemisphere — have been experiencing quite a variety of unusual and deadly weather conditions. Two people were killed and dozens had to be rescued after 10” of rain brought floods and landslides to parts of Brazil yesterday. In Malaysia at least 5 people were killed and some 70,000 had to evacuate their homes when monsoonal flood waters reached 10 foot levels on Monday and Tuesday, and more heavy rain is expected in the region through Thursday. On Sunday, a “freak wave” struck South Africa’s Bay of Plenty beach, killing three and seriously injuring about 17 more, with nearly another 100 people needing some form of rescue and treatment after being washed off the beach by the wave.

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For Tuesday, 20 December, 2022

This was the 354th day of the year with 11 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius, moving into Capricorn. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio, moving into Sagittarius.

The planet Mercury will reach its greatest Eastern elongation tomorrow. This means that it will appear to be as far to the east of the Sun as it ever gets from our perspective on Earth, so tonight and tomorrow night the tiny planet should be at an optimal viewpoint low in the west after the Sun has set and the sky has darkened. Venus will be the brighter planet shining close by, just a little farther to the west. Venus will be setting about 25 minutes before Mercury goes down.

Tomorrow is the Winter Solstice for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and the Summer Solstice for those “down under,” so it’s either the shortest day of the year or the longest depending on which side of the equator you happen to be. But many of you Northern Hemispherians might be surprised to learn that the Sun will continue rising later in the morning for almost another full month. The Sun will be setting about a minute later every day after the Solstice, so we end up with a net gain in daylight, but the Sun won’t actually start rising earlier until January 11th. And even then, it won’t be until January 19th that the Sun gets back to rising as early as it does on the Solstice. The exact dates and times may be different for your latitude and longitude, but you might want to double check before you rush out to build a massive stone monument marking the Sunrise on the Solstice at your location.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 132, up 4 from yesterday. High speed solar particles streaming from coronal holes are expected to reach Earth over the next few days, bringing increased chances for Geomagnetic disturbances and possible Aurora displays for southern Canada and the US states located along the Canadian border, as well as other locations above about 45° North latitude.

Well, the “Virginia is for Launch Lovers” rocket launch we have been promoting since last week has now been scrubbed until sometime after the first of next year. This would have been the New Zealand company called “Rocket Lab’s” first launch from a US facility, but bureaucratic red tape and high winds above the Wallops Island launch center in Virginia have conspired to push it into 2023.

Our biggest news story of the day is the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that struck just off the coast of Northern California at 1034 UT this morning, which was 2:34 AM in the middle of the night Pacific Time. The shaking was felt hundreds of miles away, as far as Oregon and southern California. Power was knocked out for over 70,000 residents and some 50,000 were still without electricity as of the afternoon. Major damage included cracks in bridges and roads, while toppled furniture, broken glass, and various degrees of structural damage were widespread. Dozens of people suffered minor injuries and at least two deaths are being attributed to this earthquake.

Curiously, the same area was hit by a 6.2 quake exactly one year ago, December 20, 2021. Dozens of aftershocks were felt in the same general area throughout the morning, including a 4.6 magnitude aftershock that happened about five minutes after the big one. Experts are saying that another strong quake could happen within the next week or so, and that residents should be prepared.

This graphic from the US Geological Survey shows the location of the 6.4 earthquake in California and the numerous aftershocks that occurred earlier this morning.

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For Monday, 19 December, 2022

This was the 353rd day of the year with 12 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius, and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.

The Moon won’t be rising until well after midnight this week so the next several nights will provide some good opportunities for viewing the naked-eye planets. Venus and Mercury will be setting low in the west almost an hour after the Sun sets. Saturn will be setting around 9:00 PM local time and Jupiter about 2 hours later. Mars is well positioned for viewing all night long, and since it is still unusually close to the Earth it should be an especially good target for backyard telescopes this week.

The American Meteor Society’s most widely reported fireball sighting over the weekend was seen by over 50 people across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Wisconsin. This event occurred at about0109 UT on the 19th, or 7:09 PM CST on Sunday night.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 128. That’s down 12 from Friday. The recent run of M class solar flares has subsided, but there was a short-lived surge in the Geomagnetic field earlier today — probably due to a glancing blow of solar particles released by one of last week’s big flares. The Planetary K Index is currently around 2.

One of the top ten strongest earthquakes of the past 7 days was another 5.4 magnitude quake in west Texas at 2335 UT on Friday December 16th – just minutes after we had submitted Friday’s report. This one is now regarded as the fourth strongest earthquake in Texas history. Regular listeners may remember that we started commenting on the unusual earthquakes across America’s heartland beginning with a 5.3 magnitude quake that also struck in west Texas back on November 16th.

The rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Island facility in Virginia that we talked about last week has been postponed yet again. Tomorrow is the final day of the possible launch window dates, so anyone interested in observing a mid-Atlantic rocket launch will just have to keep their fingers crossed for now.

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For Friday, 16 December, 2022

This was the 350th day of the year with just 15 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus, and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Last Quarter Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo, moving into Libra.

The Moon reached Last Quarter phase early this morning, so it will appear slightly less than 50% illuminated by the time it rises about an hour after midnight. The Moon-free early evenings of the next several nights will provide some good opportunities for viewing all five of the naked-eye planets, starting with Venus and Mercury soon after Sunset. You should try to catch Saturn well before 9:00 PM local time when it begins to drop out of sight, followed by Jupiter about 2 hours behind. Mars is still very well positioned for viewing all night long, and without interference from the moonlight it should be an especially good target for backyard telescopes this weekend.

Europe continues to lead the pack in terms of fireball reports logged by the American Meteor Society. Only about half a dozen events with more than five observers have been logged since early on Thursday the 15th, and each of these events was reported by less than 10 people. This is a surprising lull in fireball activity considering the Geminid meteor shower has just peaked, but if recent history repeats itself the lull could be broken by another very widespread sighting soon.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 140. That’s down 24 from yesterday but the recent run of M class solar flares is still going strong. There have been more M level flares in the past three days than in the previous three months combined – but in a pattern that seems to be defying the odds of random chance, the sunspots of the past several months are almost never facing the Earth when they flare. This means the impact to our planet from these recent flares has been slim to none. There have been some regional short-term disruptions to shortwave radio transmissions, but so far, no major longer-lasting effects to the Earth’s geomagnetic field have been observed. The Planetary K Index is hovering in “Quiet” territory, between 2 and 3

The most significant solar flare effects we might expect would include Auroral activity being visible farther south than normal, both disruptions and enhancements to shortwave and VHF radio and television broadcasts could be experienced, and detrimental effects to orbiting satellites can occur in the more extreme scenarios. There is one large sunspot cluster that is currently facing the Earth and if it releases a strong flare in the next few days the Earth might experience some of these more intense effects.

The biggest earthquake in the news today was not even on the Earth – it was actually a Marsquake. Scientists at UCLA have reported that a quake detected by seismometers on Mars back in May, 2022 was 5 times more powerful than any other Marsquake observed since measurements by the InSight landing probe began in 2018. Analysts say readings from this quake persisted for over 4 hours and they could lead to some surprising new revelations about the underlying structure of the Martian surface. (Our regular listeners may also remember the report from late October about water ice being blasted to the surface of Mars after our neighboring planet was hit by a meteorite in December of last year.)

The rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Island facility in Virginia that we mentioned in last night’s broadcast has now been rescheduled for Sunday night. The launch window is tentatively set for between 6 and 8:00 PM EST on the 18th. If that plays out, observers along the Mid-Atlantic States from the Carolinas to Maine could catch a glimpse of Rocket Lab’s “Electron” rocket as it flies eastward over the Atlantic Ocean. Please refer to the graphic we posted with Thursday’s report to learn where and when you might be able to see the rocket.

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For Thursday, 15 December, 2022

This was the 349th day of the year with 16 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus, and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo.

Venus and Mercury are becoming increasingly easier to spot before they set low in the west as the sky begins to darken soon after the Sun goes down. Saturn is now setting soon after 9:00 PM local time, so it is best viewed in the early to mid-evening hours. Jupiter is setting soon after midnight and Mars will be in the sky until dawn, so sky watchers will continue to be treated to the opportunity for seeing all five naked-eye planets in a single night’s viewing.

Europe seems to be filing most of the few fireball reports have been coming in to the American Meteor Society over the past few days. Observers in the UK, Northern Ireland, and Scotland reported a fireball seen at 0643 UT early yesterday morning, and another sighting was made in the Netherlands, Denmark, and Germany just three minutes later. Despite the close proximity in time and place, these really were two different fireballs with different trajectories and characteristics.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 174. That’s up 15 from yesterday, and yesterday’s outbursts of multiple M class and strong C class flares has continued throughout the day today. It appears that yesterday’s flares did not produce any earth-directed coronal mass ejections. Any CME impacts from today’s activity have yet to be determined, but so far the Planetary K Index remains below 2 and the Geomagnetic field is Quiet.

A rocket launch from NASA’s Wallops Island facility in Virginia is scheduled for Friday night. This launch had previously been postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions and may be subject to further delays, but if all goes well, observers along the Mid-Atlantic States from the Carolinas as far north as Maine could get to catch a glimpse of Rocket Lab’s “Electron” rocket as it blasts eastward high over the Atlantic Ocean tomorrow night. We’ll post a graphic that illustrates where and when people might be able to see the rocket.

In other space exploration news, a coolant leak was detected yesterday in the Soyuz spacecraft that is currently docked with the International Space Station. The leak was discovered while two Cosmonauts onboard the ISS were preparing for a planned 7 hour spacewalk operation. That spacewalk was cancelled and now the concern is whether the Soyuz capsule has been rendered unsafe to return a human crew to Earth.

The graphic below illustrates the approximate locations and times that rocket launches from Wallop’s Island might be observable. If interested, be sure to check the internet for updated information on Rocket Lab’s “Electron” rocket launch date and time, and to watch a live stream of the event:

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For Wednesday, 14 December, 2022

This was the 348th day of the year with 17 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus, and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo.

We may be past the peak of the annual Geminid meteor shower but you might still be able to catch a glimpse of some Geminid meteor trails. The wee hours of the morning until dawn are usually considered the best times for spotting meteors, but with the Moon still very bright during those hours you should also try looking in the late evenings before the Moon comes up, which will be around 11:00 PM local time tonight, and closer to midnight tomorrow.

The small Near Earth Object we mentioned on Monday – 2022 XX – whirled harmlessly past the Earth at just a little more than half the distance to the Moon early this morning. Tomorrow morning a much bigger asteroid will be in our neighborhood: NEO 2015 RN35 is estimated to be between 63 and 140 meters in diameter and moving at a velocity of about 6 km/second, which is over 13,000 miles per hour. Fortunately though, it won’t come much closer than about 1.8 times the distance to the Moon this time around.

In spite of all the recent meteors and asteroids zooming about, the American Meteor Society has logged relatively few fireball sighting reports since last week. The most widely reported recent incident was a fireball seen over the Netherlands, France, Germany and Belgium at around 1637 UT last night.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 159. That’s up 17 from yesterday, and some of these sunspots are finally producing some interesting activity. An M2 level solar flare occurred at 0740 UT this morning, and it was soon followed by two more slightly less powerful M class flares. A few hours later an M4 and then an M6 level flare occurred, and now another M4 just after 2200 UT. This is certainly the most intense solar activity we’ve seen in quite a while, but as of this writing, the geomagnetic field has not shown much sign of being affected. The Planetary K Index is currently struggling to rise above 2, but this could be changing soon if any of today’s solar flares have resulted in Coronal Mass Ejections being hurled our way.

The US Geological Survey recorded a 6.3 magnitude earthquake at 1840 UT today in the “Rat Islands”. This is an uninhabited group of volcanic islands that are part of the Aleutian Islands chain which stretches across the Bering Sea from Alaska to Russia, and yes, they actually were named for rats that were inadvertently brought there in the early 1700’s. It turns out that one of the largest earthquakes in recorded history occurred in the Rat Islands in 1965 – it measured a whopping 8.7 magnitude.

The extreme Border-to-Border December storm continues to sweep across the United States bringing blizzard conditions, high winds, snow and ice to the north, and deadly tornadoes, lightning and flooding rains to the south. Life-threatening weather conditions, accompanied by travel disruptions, power outages and widespread structural damage will be occurring over many parts of the country through Thursday and into Friday. Be aware of your local weather forecast and be prepared!

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For Tuesday, 13 December, 2022

This was the 347th day of the year with 18 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus, and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Leo, moving into Virgo.

Those of us in the Northern Hemisphere are rapidly approaching our shortest day of the year. But interestingly enough, although the Sun is still rising a little later each day, it will also be setting about a minute later this week than it did last week. That’s true for our latitude and longitude at least, and it might be a little different for your location, but this gives us a pretty good hint that the trend of shorter days and longer nights is getting ready to reverse itself. This would be a good time to start building some big stone monuments that mark the alignment points of sunrise and sunset on the Winter Solstice which is coming up next week.

The Geminid meteor shower is predicted to peak early tomorrow morning. This is one of the best meteor showers of the year, and even though the bright Gibbous Moon will tend to wash out all but the brightest meteor trails there should still be some good viewing opportunities if you’re lucky enough to have clear skies. The Moon will be rising around 10:00 PM local time tonight and about 11:00 PM tomorrow night, so try looking up late on these evenings when the sky is darkest. Later in the overnight and pre-dawn hours try finding a spot that’s in the shadow of the direct moonlight to give your eyes a better chance of glimpsing some meteors.

Incidentally, do you remember the California rancher’s house fire that was thought to have possibly been caused by a meteorite last month? Many witnesses in the area observed a fireball meteor that appeared to come down in the vicinity of the house that reportedly burst into flames at about the same time on the evening of November 4th. This story received a lot of media attention, but experts quickly downplayed the likelihood of a meteor sparking such a fire. Now investigators have officially ruled out meteors as the cause of the blaze – even though they still don’t know what did cause it.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 142, up 1 from yesterday. The geomagnetic field continues to be Quiet with the Planetary K Index hovering around 1.

There are no major earthquakes, volcano eruptions or hurricanes to report today, but the entire midsection of the US is being hit by an equivalent combination of severe weather outbursts. A swirling storm system that stretches from the Mexican border into Canada is pulling warm humid air from the Gulf of Mexico and mixing it up with cold Arctic air from the north to produce multiple tornados, thunderstorms, hail and lightning in some parts of the country, with blizzard conditions and feet of snow or inches of ice in other areas. This energetic system will move eastward over the next several days, disrupting travel, knocking out power lines and generally producing a widespread path of danger and destruction likely to affect millions of people going into the busy holiday period. Be sure to stay in touch with local weather forecasts wherever you are or plan to be.

The NOAA image posted below illustrates the size and complexity of the current storm system:

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For Monday, 12 December, 2022

This was the 346th day of the year with 19 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus, and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Cancer and the astro-Logical sign of Leo.

The Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak on the morning of Wednesday the 14th. The Geminids are considered one of the best showers of the year and sometimes produce over a hundred meteor trails per hour. This year the bright Gibbous Moon will tend to wash out all but the brightest meteors so forecasters aren’t predicting numbers that high, but since the Moon won’t be rising until about 10:00 PM local time on the night of the 13th and closer to 11:00 PM on the night of the 14th your best chances for seeing some Geminid meteors might be late in the evening on those nights.

The most widely reported fireball sighting of the past few days was actually an early evening event that occurred less than two hours before last Friday’s broadcast started. This was a fireball seen around 6:46 PM EST across the northeastern corner of the US, from Pennsylvania and New Jersey northward to Vermont, New Hampshire and the surrounding areas.

Another Near Earth Asteroid was discovered yesterday. Estimated to be about 5-11 meters in diameter, it was given the ominous sounding designation of “2022 XX”. Although it isn’t expected to hit us anytime soon it’s going to come close on Wednesday, passing by Earth at just a little more than half the distance to the Moon.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 141. That’s up 26 from Friday, but still no significant flares have occurred and experts say the magnetic fields of these spots are stable. The Geomagnetic field has been Quiet over the past few days and the Planetary K Index has been hovering below 1 for most of the day today.

Last week we commented on the curious string of minor earthquakes that have been showing up in unusual places across the US recently. We specifically pointed out a 2.7 quake that registered near Lawrence, Nebraska on December 7th, and how this happened to be close to the geographical center of the US, near the town of Lebanon, Kansas. Now we’ve learned that within a few hours of that earthquake, a leak occurred in a crude oil pipeline in Washington County, Kansas. That’s just across the Nebraska/Kansas line to the southeast of the earthquake’s epicenter. Approximately 14,000 barrels of crude oil spilled into a creek before the leak was sealed off. As of Sunday, officials were saying the cause of the pipeline’s rupture had not been determined, but we have to wonder if the nearby earthquake was just a coincidence?

The strongest earthquake of the past 7 days was a 6.0 magnitude quake that struck the southwestern coast of Mexico at 1431 UT yesterday, December 11th. Tremors were experienced as far inland as Mexico City, but there were no reports of casualties or serious damage.

And just three hours after that quake hit southwestern Mexico, the Orion spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean off the northwestern coast of Mexico near Baja California. It looked like a picture perfect ending to an almost flawless trip around the Moon. There were a few minor glitches along the

way – investigators still need to determine why some electrical relays and communication systems behaved abnormally, and why several data acquisition cubesats failed to deploy properly, but all in all, both NASA and the ESA (the European Space Agency) report that the Artemis I mission exceeded their expectations.

Incidentally, you will recall how the launch date of Artemis I was repeatedly postponed because of technical problems and then pushed further back due to Hurricanes Ian and Nicole. So, thanks to these unforeseen delays, Orion’s return to Earth ended up taking place on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 17 crew’s Lunar landing, which was the last Apollo mission to the Moon.

The coincidences just keep piling up – and as it happens — today, December 12th, is the 121st Anniversary of the first-ever trans-Atlantic radio transmission. The letter “S” was sent in Morse code from England to Newfoundland via Guglielmo Marconi’s wireless telegraph system, thus marking the beginning of our Modern Communications Age. And we think it’s worth mentioning that all the leading scientists of the day said it couldn’t be done!

In the images posted below: Marconi (left) watches as his associates prepare to launch the kite that holds the antenna that will receive the first trans-Atlantic radio signal. (December 1901)

And this is the Orion spacecraft being reeled in after returning from the Moon yesterday. (December 2022)

For Friday, 09 December, 2022

This was the 343rd day of the year with 22 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Gemini and the astro-Logical sign of Cancer.

This should be another great night for observing Mars and the other four naked-eye planets. Venus and Mercury will each be setting progressively later than the Sun over the coming week, making them easier to spot low in the west early in the evening. Saturn is best seen before about 9:00 PM local time, Jupiter until after midnight, and Mars will be pulling another all-nighter, and is still near its closest approach to the Earth. The Moon will be rising later each evening over the weekend, thus giving sky watchers better opportunities to view the planets and stars in the early evening hours.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 115, up 8 from yesterday. Still no significant flares from the sunspots that had been so active when they were facing away from the Earth, and now those same spots are beginning to rotate away from us again. The solar wind speed from coronal hole emissions is still high, but this seems to be having little impact on the Geomagnetic field. The Planetary K Index is currently at 3.

We’ve mentioned the extreme amount of sulfur dioxide venting from the Mauna Loa volcano since it erupted at the end of November. The total amount of SO2 this one volcano has put into the atmosphere must be in the neighborhood of several billion pounds by now. Interestingly enough, Hawaii itself has not been so affected by these emissions since the gases are shooting straight up and then getting blown away from the islands by high altitude winds, but satellite images are starting to come out that show the plumes of gas spreading across the mainland US now.

The Orion spacecraft is set to make its return from lunar orbit on Sunday, December 11, around 12:40 PM EST. The final big test of its mission will be to see if it can survive the extreme temperatures it will be exposed to when re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft will actually “skim” off the atmosphere like a rock skipping on water as it makes its descent in a novel maneuver intended to reduce the G-forces it is subjected to. The location of the splashdown zone had to be changed, reportedly due to weather concerns, so now instead of splashdown off the coast of California near San Diego, it will come down farther south, off the coast of Baja, California.

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For Thursday, 08 December, 2022

This was the 342nd day of the year with 23 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini, moving into Cancer.

The Lunar Occultation of Mars took place exactly as predicted last night, and many interesting images of the event are posted online. Mars is still about as close to the Earth as it ever gets, so the next few nights will provide exceptionally good views of our neighboring planet, either by naked eye or with a telescope. In fact, if you have clear skies and an open view of the horizon from east to west, you might be able to see all five naked eye planets plus the Moon tonight. Start looking for Mercury and Venus low in the west soon after sunset. Saturn and Jupiter will already be high in the sky at that time, while Mars will be rising low in the east about half an hour before the Moon comes up.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 107. That’s down 16 from yesterday, and still no significant solar flares to report. The Earth has entered a high speed stream of solar wind, but so far our geomagnetic field seems undisturbed. The Planetary K Index has risen to near 3 in just the past few hours, so Aurora chasers in the far north may still catch some displays overnight.

That large area of rain storms in the Atlantic did not develop into a tropical system and the National Hurricane Center has issued their last update for it. Still, this is probably not a good time to attempt crossing the Atlantic in a sailboat, if you were thinking of doing so.

The latest reports from Mauna Loa say that the lava flow has stalled, and while new lava eruptions cannot be entirely ruled out, the volcano seems to be settling down. Sullfur Dioxide gas is still venting at rates of thousands of metric tonnes per day, with ash and vog remaining the most widespread threats to the area.

No extreme earthquakes have been detected today, but on the other hand, minor quakes seem to be popping up across the US on a regular basis now. A 2.7 quake registered in the southwestern mountain region of North Carolina today at 0323 UT, while numerous similar sized quakes have happened in Texas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and yes, even California over the past few days. Although these small quakes can happen almost anywhere at anytime on our planet, it does feel like we’ve been seeing something a little unusual recently.

In particular, the 2.7 quake near Lawrence, Nebraska at 1745 UT yesterday was barely 25 miles from the small town of Lebanon, Kansas, which just happens to be considered the geographic center point of the 48 contiguous United States. This aroused our curiosity to learn what point on Earth is directly opposite the center point of the US. In other words, if we started drilling a hole from Lebanon, KS directly through the center of the Earth and on through to the other side, it turns out we would not end up in China, but way down in the Indian Ocean, not terribly far from Indonesia and those areas that have been experiencing so much extreme earthquake activity recently. Is this just a coincidence, or could there be some sort of planetary resonance connecting these opposite ends of our planet?

The first graphic posted below shows the earthquakes observed in the US over the past week, with a big star drawn in that indicates the geographic center of the contiguous states. The second graphic shows the approximate location of that region that lies directly opposite the United States on a globe of the Earth, and the quakes that have occurred in that region over the past week.

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For Wednesday, 07 December, 2022

This was the 341st day of the year with 24 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Full Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini.

Mars and the Full Moon will be putting on a very rare display after the show tonight. Mars is at “opposition” today, which means that it is directly in line with the Earth and the Sun, with our planet in the middle. Mars is also about the closest it will come to the Earth for about two years, so this is an especially good time to be viewing the Red Planet either by eye or with a telescope. But what makes this opposition especially rare is that the edge of the Moon will pass directly in front of the planet Mars tonight, giving many people an opportunity to view what’s called a “Lunar Occultation of Mars”.

The occultation will begin for observers near the west coast of the US and North America around 0230 UT. (Note that in Universal Time the date is December 8th, but for those of us in North America it will still be Wednesday night.) The event will progress northeastward and reach eastern Canada around 0400 UT, then become visible to Greenland, Scandinavia, England, and finally parts of central Europe and northern Africa before ending after 0500 UT. Unfortunately, no occultation will be seen for a big chunk of the US that stretches south and east of a line that runs diagonallly from east Texas through eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey and eastern New York. For these folks and the rest of the world Mars will come extremely close to the Moon tonight, it just won’t be completely covered by it. Additional viewing information specific to your location can be found online, and even if you’re outside the occultation zone or have thick cloud cover (like most of the US does right now) there will be online videos documenting this rare celestial phenomenon.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 123. That’s up 34 from yesterday, but still no significant solar flares to report so far. The Planetary K Index did move into minor storm level territory with a reading of 5 earlier today, but it is currently standing just above 3. Forecasters are predicting additional disturbances to the geomagnetic field within the next two days, so Aurora chasers should be alert for enhanced activity.

And yes, the National Hurricane Center is still tracking an unusual December disturbance in the mid-Atlantic Ocean. This extremely large area of rain and thunderstorms has shown signs of becoming better organized, so the NHC is still giving it a 50-50 chance of developing into a subtropical or tropical storm by tomorrow. The storm will move into cooler waters by Friday and poses no significant threat to populated land areas.

The image posted below illustrates just how big this storm is, almost spanning the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to the Americas.

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For Tuesday, 06 December, 2022

This was the 340th day of the year with 25 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Taurus, moving into Gemini.

The nearly full Moon will be rising about an hour before the Sun sets today. The Moon often has a very striking effect when it is low on the eastern horizon, and gives the appearance of looking bigger than it normally does. This effect is called “The Moon Illusion” and it is an optical illusion that has to do with our mental perception and nothing to do with atmospheric distortions or the Moon actually changing in size.

Mars will be rising about an hour later than the Moon, so if you have clear skies tonight be sure to look for the pair making an interesting group pose with the Pleiades star cluster above the Moon and the red star Aldeberan, the “eye” of Taurus the Bull, below it. Tomorrow night the Moon will be located even closer to Mars – in fact, many observers in parts of Europe and North America could see the Moon pass directly over Mars tomorrow night. We’ll have more details about viewing this event on tomorrow night’s show.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 89, down 4 from yesterday. So far, having more sunspots than last week has not resulted in more solar flares. Of course, that’s not a bad thing unless you were hoping to see some Auroral activity south of the Arctic Circle. But with the current Planetary K Index at less than 1, you will probably have to wait at least another day or two for that.

On Sunday, Mt. Semeru, a volcano in East Java, Indonesia erupted. An eruption from the same volcano on December 6, 2021 killed at least 57 people. The eruption on December 4th of this year was exacerbated by landslides from recent monsoonal rains and thousands of people have been displaced from their homes. It’s been a little over two weeks since Java was rocked by an earthquake that caused hundreds of deaths and widespread structural damage, and strong earthquakes are still ongoing in the area.

And believe it or not, here it is December and the National Hurricane Service is tracking a large disturbance in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. They are giving this large area of rain and thunderstorms about a 50-50 chance of developing into a subtropical or tropical storm in the next few days. It is not expected to survive past the end of the week, however.

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For Monday, 05 December, 2022

This was the 339th day of the year with 26 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Ophiuchus and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aries and the astro-Logical sign of Taurus.

Last week we learned that the Moon was located in a constellation called Cetus the Whale. This week the Sun is located in another lesser-known constellation called Ophiucus. Ophiucus is one of thirteen constellations that spans the ecliptic plane –that region of the celestial sphere where the Sun, Moon and planets appear to move relative to the fixed stars. However, having 13 signs of the Zodiac just didn’t work for astro-Logical purposes, so Ophiucus, also known as “The Serpent Bearer”, never made it as an “official” Sign of the Zodiac. After all, if somebody asks “what’s your sign?’ would you really want to say, “I’m an Ophiucan?”

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 93. That’s up 49 from Friday, and up 81 from last Thursday’s low of just 12 sunspots. Several new and rather large clusters of spots have now rotated into view, so the potential for earth-directed solar activity is increasing. There was an M1 level solar flare on Saturday at 1741 UT, and the geomagnetic field has been Unsettled over the past few days. The Planetary K Index has been hovering near 4 today.

We haven’t seen a repeat of a major fireball event like the one over the US Mid-Atlantic region last week, but there were about half a dozen fireballs logged by the American Meteor Society since Friday. One of the most reported events was seen over Great Britain at 0646 UT December 3rd, and another was over the Northeastern corner of the US at 0531 UT on December 4th, or 12:31 AM early Sunday morning.

A 6.7 magnitude earthquake occurred near the Samoan Islands in the South Pacific on December 4th at 1924 UT. This was in the area of the tectonic plate boundary known as the Kermadec-Tonga Subduction Zone, which is known for having frequent strong quakes. But the area in west Texas just south of New Mexico that was not known for having frequent earthquakes until a few weeks ago is still continuing to experience lesser magnitude shake-ups almost daily. Do you remember the Kevin Bacon movie from 1990 called “Tremors”? Is a sequel involving giant prehistoric sand worms about to play out in real life in west Texas?

Meanwhile, the lava flow from Mauna Loa continues advancing towards one of the island’s major highways. Forty feet per hour is the estimated speed of the flow, so if it continues at that rate it could block the highway in about two weeks.

This morning the Orion spacecraft automatically fired its engines while it was on the far side of the Moon and out of radio contact with the Earth. This was the last big blast from the engines and was designed to propel the craft out of Lunar orbit and back to Earth. So far the flight has gone almost flawlessly and the rocket scientists say that their entire mission has met or exceeded all expectations.

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For Friday, 02 December, 2022

This was the 336th day of the year with 29 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Cetus and the astro-Logical sign of Aries.

But wait a minute – what is this about the Moon being in a constellation called Cetus? Cetus isn’t one the average person usually hears about, it isn’t one of the constellations associated with the signs of the Zodiac, and it isn’t even in the Ecliptic Plane, along which the Sun, Moon, and planets are usually located. But one corner of Cetus touches the Ecliptic, so from time to time the Moon and other planets (but never the Sun) find themselves dipping briefly into the celestial waters surrounding Cetus the Whale. In Greek mythology Cetus was considered a Sea Monster that was frequently in need of slaying. The Chinese associated the same star pattern with giant tortoises, and in South America it was a Jaguar. At any rate, if you can see the Moon after yourufoshow ends tonight, you can impress your friends by pointing out the constellation Cetus as well as Pisces, which is the constellation of “The Fish” swimming directly above The Whale. The Moon will be floating right in between them.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 49. That’s up 37 from yesterday, thanks to several very large sunspot clusters that are just beginning to rotate into Earth’s view. So far, contrary to what experts had been predicting, there hasn’t been any indication of geomagnetic storm conditions today. The Planetary K Index is currently ranging between 3 and 4. Still, observers in northern latitudes should be alert for potential Auroral activity tonight and over the weekend.

The recent lull in fireball activity ended last night when thousands of people across the entire mid-Atlantic region of the US witnessed a bright meteoroid flash across the sky. The bolide was seen from South Carolina and Tennessee on northward to Michigan, New York and into parts of Ontario. This event has received extensive mainstream news coverage and numerous images and videos of the fireball have been posted to the internet.

New potentially hazardous Near Earth Objects are being discovered almost every day. NEO 2022 XA and 2022 XB were just observed for the first time yesterday. XA was a 12 meter diameter object that whirled past the Earth today at 1.4 Lunar Distance and XB was a 7 meter rock that came slightly closer to us than the Moon at just .98 LD. We generally only comment on NEO’s that will be less than 2 LD from Earth, but it’s worth mentioning that at least 6 known NEO’s have come within 10 LD of the Earth today alone. And remember, when it comes to NEO’s our motto is: “It’s the one we don’t know about that will hurt us.”

Earthquakes and volcanoes seem to have settled down for now, although that same area in west Texas and New Mexico that started shaking a few weeks ago is continuing to experience some minor tremblers with 3.0, 2.9, and 3.2 magnitude quakes felt today. The ATLAS telescope and other scientific observation posts at Mauna Loa remain shut down indefinitely, and while the volcano isn’t actively erupting now it is still venting ash and gas. Approximately 180,000 metric tons of Sulfur Dioxide emissions were measured as coming from Mauna Loa yesterday.

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For Thursday, 01 December, 2022

This was the 335th day of the year with exactly 30 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces, moving into Aries.

The Moon and Saturn appeared close together on Monday, now it is Jupiter’s turn for a Lunar encounter. The solar system’s biggest planet will be seen hovering almost directly above the Moon in the southeast soon after sunset, and the pair will accompany each other across the sky until about midnight local time. Meanwhile, Mars is making its closest approach to the Earth until the year 2025 today. The red planet will be rising about 4 hours later than the Moon and Jupiter, so it is farther to the east in the constellation Taurus, and will remain visible until sunrise. Mars and the Moon will be having a very special close encounter of their own soon, and we hope to have details about that event for you next week – so please do what you can to keep Yourufoshow on the air!

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 12. Twelve?! That’s a surprisingly low number considering that we’ve been building towards the peak of the current solar cycle much faster than had been predicted. However, a large sunspot is just beginning to rotate into view and it may have been the source of some extreme activity detected on the far-side of the Sun last week, so we might soon be seeing a resurgence in solar activity. In fact, there was an M1 class flare at 0721 UT this morning, and the Planetary K Index has been flirting with minor storm level conditions near level 5 all day.

Of course, as we’ve been seeing this week, sunspots and solar flares are not necessarily needed to create fluctuations in the geomagnetic field – Coronal Holes are also sources for such disturbances. Coronal Holes are large regions in the Sun’s outer layer which, like sunspots, are cooler than the surrounding areas. But unlike sunspots that have twisted and tightly wound magnetic fields that can release sudden outbursts of energy in the form of solar flares, coronal holes have open-ended magnetic fields that allow charged particles to escape from the Sun in a more continuous and long-lasting manner. When these charged particles reach the Earth’s own magnetic field the interaction can produce minor geomagnetic storms and enhanced Auroral activity.

Only one new fireball event was logged by the American Meteor Society from last night. It was reported by some 30 observers over western Nevada and California at about 0404 UT, or 8:04 PM PST.

And while there haven’t been any exceptionally strong earthquakes so far today, the trend of earthquakes in unusual locations has continued with a 3.6 quake near Luis Lopez, New Mexico. That’s just a few miles from Socorro, NM, the place where Socorro Police Officer Lonnie Zamora witnessed a mysterious flying craft and two humanoids back in 1964. His sighting came to be considered as one of the most credible UFO reports of the time. Today’s small quake was centered about 200 miles from Mentone, Texas where another unusual earthquake of 5.4 magnitude was felt about two weeks ago.

LAST MINUTE UPDATE: It turns out that Mentone, Texas also experienced another small quake today. It was a 2.7 at 1914 UT, about 11 and a half hours after the one in New Mexico.

Just before 5:00 PM EST this afternoon, NASA’s Orion spacecraft fired its engines in a maneuver that took it out of the “Distant Retrograde Orbit” around the Moon that it’s been in for most of the past week. On Monday, one last engine burn will send the spacecraft, along with its mannequin test pilot and Snoopy doll, back to Earth for splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on December 11th.

The two images posted below look very different but both show the Sun today. They illustrate the difference between sunspots and coronal holes. The first image, taken in visible light wavelengths, shows a relatively spot-free Sun. A few small sunspots are scattered across the surface, and a larger sunspot cluster is beginning to rotate into view at the lower left edge of the Sun.

The second image was taken in the ultra-violet light range and shows the enormous coronal holes that span almost completely across the solar surface. Note that the Sun is about 864,000 miles in diameter, so these coronal holes must measure several hundred thousand miles in length and breadth. By comparison, the planet Earth is only about 8,000 miles in diameter, so it would take a few thousand Earth’s to completely fill up those holes!

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For Wednesday, 30 November, 2022

This was the 334th day of the year with 31 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The First Quarter Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces.

The Moon reached its First Quarter phase earlier today, meaning that it will appear 50% illuminated and may be visible in the late afternoon sky for some of you. The Moon will be moving progressively further from Saturn and closer to Jupiter over the next few nights. The ringed planet will be setting around 10:00 PM local time and Jupiter will be prominent in the night sky until about 1:00 AM local time. Mars will be visible from sunset to sunrise. Look for Mars in between “the Horns of The Bull” in the constellation Taurus.

Today’s Boulder Sunspot Number is 25. That’s down 27 from yesterday, and it is the lowest sunspot count we’ve seen since we began doing our reports. But in spite of the low number of sunspots and lack of solar flares, the Earth is being bombarded by a high speed blast of charged particles streaming from an enormous coronal hole on the Earth-facing side of the Sun. The result has been Unsettled conditions for the geomagnetic field for the past several days, and these effects are expected to intensify by the end of the week. The Planetary K index has been ranging around 4 all day, so observers in far northern latitudes should be alert for possible Auroral activity.

Only two new fireball events were logged by the American Meteor Society as of this afternoon. One was seen over Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming around 0045 UT November 30 (or 5:45 PM on the 29th MST.) The other was seen over Texas at 0318 UT November 30 (or 9:22 PM CST on the 29th.)

Ever since Mauna Loa’s eruption began last Sunday night we’ve been learning a lot of new terms: Such as the word “vog”, which refers to the volcanic smog that results from the mix of ash and sulfur dioxide (along with other particulates and gases from the eruption), and the term “Pele’s Hair” which refers to fine strands of volcanic glass sent spiraling through the air. (Incidentally, Pele’s Hair is named after the Hawaiian Goddess of Volcanoes and not the Brazilian God of Football.) We’ve also learned that Mauna Loa means “Long Mountain” and that it is the largest active volcano on Earth. Mauna Loa rises some 13,680 feet (about 4,170 meters) above the Pacific Ocean.

Mauna Loa’s remote location and altitude above the “inversion layer” of Earth’s atmosphere have made it a valuable site for multiple scientific observatories, including being one of the four sites of the Asteroid Terrestrial-Impact Last Alert System. ATLAS is a network of automated telescopes that are exceptionally well-suited for detecting the smaller Near Earth Objects that might impact our planet. ATLAS is credited with discovering 855 asteroids since 2017, and 82 of them were identified as potentially hazardous. The system has also discovered 76 new comets and a whopping 13,381 Supernovae. But now lava has flowed over the access road and taken down the power lines, so the Mauna Loa observatory will be shut down indefinitely.

Earthquake activity has been settling down in Hawaii today, but it seems to be perking up in other parts of the planet. Iran and Japan have experienced quakes of 5.7 and 5.0 magnitudes respectively.

Greece and Spain have each registered 4.4 quakes. But perhaps the most unexpected location for a strong earthquake today was near the small town of Peace River in Alberta, Canada where a 5.3 quake struck. The 5.3 was sandwiched in between a series with 5 other quakes that ranged from magnitude 4.0 to 4.9 over the past 24 hour period.

Several southern states in the US were terrorized by severe storms on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. These storms were more typical of spring and summer events rather than late November, with frequent lightning strikes and multiple tornadoes reported. Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama were especially hard hit with extensive damage throughout the region, and at least two deaths from a tornado have been confirmed in Alabama.

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For Tuesday, 29 November, 2022

This was the 333rd day of the year with 32 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius, moving into Pisces.

The Waxing Crescent Moon will appear almost 50% illuminated this evening and it will set about an hour before midnight local time. That bright “star” seen to the west or “right” of the Moon tonight is actually the planet Saturn. The famous Rings of Saturn are currently tilted with respect to the planet’s body, so this is an especially good time to observe Saturn and its rings through a telescope. The bright Moon will make for less than ideal viewing of Saturn for the next several nights, but tonight’s Moon will help you identify and locate the planet which will still be in about the same place at the same time each evening after the Moon has moved away by later next week.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 52, down 4 from yesterday. Still no significant solar flares today, but the Geomagnetic field is being disturbed by a high speed solar wind, and the stream of charged particles is expected to intensify over the next few days. The Planetary K index has been hovering around 4 all day so observers in far northern latitudes should be alert for Auroral activity.

A handful of fireball meteors over the US last night were reported by relatively small numbers of people. Europe seems to have seen the most fireball activity overnight with about 20 reports for two events, one seen over England at 1935 UT, and a second over France, Germany, and Belgium at 2120 UT.

The Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii is still bubbling away, spewing ash and gases into the air, and lava has flowed over some of the nearby roads. For now, however, the situation is not considered a threat to residents, except for those especially sensitive to the air quality conditions. We’ll post a screenshot taken today that shows the USGS map of earthquakes that have accompanied the volcanic activity on “the Big Island” of Hawaii over the past day.

And finally, just about the time UFO Joe has finished reading tonight’s State of the Earth Report, the Chinese Space Station, “Tiangong”, will begin passing over Arizona. It will be almost directly over Snowflake at about 8:45 PM Eastern Time, or 6:45 PM Arizona Time. Do you suppose they will be listening to Yourufoshow?

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For Monday, 28 November, 2022

This was the 332nd day of the year with 33 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius.

The crescent Moon is growing bigger and rising later so it will be prominent in the evening sky and hovering close to the planet Saturn after sunset until about 10:00 PM local time. And speaking of sunset, we noticed something interesting about the sunset times for this week: Although the Sun has been rising a little later and setting a little earlier almost every day since the Autumnal Equinox, the Sun will be setting at virtually the same time every evening this week from Monday through Friday — specifically at 4:54 PM EST for our latitude and longitude. Old Sol is still rising a little later each morning, and it will resume setting a little earlier on Saturday, but it appears that the Northern Hemisphere’s daily loss of sunlight is beginning to slow down as we get closer to our Winter Solstice.

About 8 new fireball events have been logged by the American Meteor Society since our last broadcast. Most of these were reported by a relatively small number of observers, although one over Europe at 1751 UT on the 25th was reported by about 17 people spread across Italy, France, Germany, and Switzerland. But the most widely reported event by far was from about 150 witnesses for a fireball seen across Pennsylvania, New York, Maine, and into parts of Ontario and Quebec at 0333 UT on the 27th, which was 10:33 PM on Saturday night the 26th EST.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 56, down 5 from Friday. No significant solar flares have occurred for several days, but a stream of charged coronal particles made its way to Earth over the weekend and triggered Unsettled conditions in Earth’s geomagnetic field. The Planetary K index had been fluctuating between 2 and 4 on Saturday and Sunday, then spiked above 5 for a few hours this morning, putting us in minor geomagnetic storm territory. The K Index has subsided since, but was on the rise again as of this writing. Observers in northern latitudes should be alert for Auroral activity.

At 0224 UT November 28th, Near Earth Object 2022 WM7 buzzed past the Earth at a mere .2 Lunar Distance – just 2 tenths of the average distance between Moon and Earth. That’s equivalent to about 48,800 miles or 78,550 km, so it was a very near miss. This 10 foot diameter object had just been detected a few days ago, reminiscent of the asteroid that actually hit the Earth near Niagara Falls last week, just hours after it was discovered.

For the first time in nearly 40 years the Mauna Loa volcano in Hawaii has erupted. The eruption began around 11:30 PM Sunday night Hawaiian Standard Time, or 0930 UT on Monday the 28th. Activity seems to have subsided at this time and officials are downplaying any potential threats to inhabited areas from flowing lava, but the plume of ash has disrupted air travel and the entire region will certainly be covered in a layer of volcanic ash as much as a quarter inch thick. As another side effect of the eruption, one of the telescopes in the global network of astronomical instruments searching for Near Earth Objects is in the affected zone and its operation has been shut down for the time being.

The automated telescope on Mauna Lua is one of four in the “Asteroid Terrestrial Impact Last Alert System,” aka “ATLAS” that surveys the sky every night searching for potentially hazardous Near Earth

Objects, as well as other asteroids, comets, supernovae, and previously unknown celestial objects. The clear dark skies at the site are considered ideal for astronomical observatory, but as this screenshot from a camera near the gateway to the Mauna Loa Observatory shows, the ash in the sky will render conditions much less than ideal for some time to come:

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For Friday, 25 November, 2022

This was the 329th day of the year with 36 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn.

Be sure to look for a slim crescent Moon low in the west after sunset today and each evening over the weekend. And keep in mind that the Orion spacecraft, along with a life-size human mannequin and Snoopy from the comic strip Peanuts, will be in orbit around the Moon until December 1. A crucial engine burn was successfully completed just before 5:00 PM EST today, and the craft is now in the planned “Distant Retrograde Orbit”.

Two new fireball events seen along the US-Canadian border were logged by the American Meteor Society this morning. The most widely reported of these was a very bright fireball seen by about two dozen witnesses at 0407 UT, November 25th Most of the observers were in the area around Winnipeg, Manitoba, but the same fall was also seen in both of the Dakotas, Minnesota, and Saskatchewan. Two more events were logged later in the day today: one was seen over western Australia at 13:11 UT, and another over France and Switzerland at 17:52 UT.

The Leonid, Orionid, and Taurid meteor showers have all passed their peaks but they are still considered active showers, and now another major shower, the Geminids, is becoming active ahead of its predicted peak on December 14. These sources, along with several ongoing minor showers and the ever present sporadic meteors should produce a few visible trails every hour for watchers under clear dark skies.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 61, down 7 from yesterday. The geomagnetic field has been Quiet, but the Planetary K Index has risen above its lows from earlier this week. The K Index nudged above 4 briefly today, which would be nearing the minor storm level criteria of 5, but later the K Index came down closer to 3.

The image below gives us a look inside the cabin of the Orion spacecraft on its way to the Moon. The mannequin in the pilot’s seat is outfitted with sensors to help assess conditions a real astronaut might experience on the next flight, and the small object floating around in an orange jumpsuit is Snoopy – probably helping to defend against attacks by any space-faring Red Barons?

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For Thursday, 24 November, 2022

This was the 328th day of the year with 37 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The Waxing Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius.

The thinnest sliver of a crescent Moon might just be visible a few minutes after sunset today for observers with a clear view of the western horizon – and remember to look for Mercury and Venus low in the west immediately after sunset as well. Binoculars may help you spot these objects in the early twilight tonight, but tomorrow night the Moon will be setting almost an hour and a half behind the Sun so the crescent will be easy to see. (If your sky isn’t blocked by clouds, that is.)

All four of the new fireball events posted by the American Meteor Society this morning were from observers in Europe, especially Great Britain and France. There were 23 reports for an early morning fireball seen over those two countries, plus Germany and Belgium, at 0611 UT today.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 68. Still low, but up 6 from yesterday. The geomagnetic field has remained Quiet. The Planetary K Index rose to 2 earlier today but has since dropped closer to 1.

Major earthquake activity has subsided for the time being, so that’s something to be thankful for.

And speaking of which, Happy Thanksgiving Day to everyone listening, whoever and wherever you are!

We’d like to leave you with this curious image of the Sun that was taken by NASA’s orbiting Solar Dynamics Observatory at 12:37 UT this morning. Apparently the Sun was also wishing everyone a Happy Turkey Day!

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For Wednesday, 23 November, 2022

This was the 327th day of the year with 38 days remaining.

The Sun is now in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius. The New Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.

The Moon reached its New Phase today, meaning that it was directly between the Earth and the Sun at 2257 UT, just a few hours ago. You’ve probably heard the term “Supermoon” that usually refers to a Full Moon which looks bigger than normal because it is closer to the Earth than it normally is. Well, today’s New Moon is being called a “New Moon Supermoon” since the Moon is about 11,000 miles (or roughly 18,000 km) closer to Earth than it is on average. And while we can’t see the New Moon since it’s right in front of the Sun, the gravitational alignment of the Supermoon and Sun can definitely be felt by the Earth. Ocean tides will be higher than normal for one thing, and we have to wonder if there might be a causal relationship with the recent surge in earthquake activity.

At this time there have been 5 earthquakes at or above 6.0 magnitude since Friday. The most recent was a 6.1 at 0108 UT this morning in western Turkey. And by the way, we need to correct our statement that yesterday’s deadly earthquake in Indonesia had been listed as 5.1 by the US Geological Survey – the USGS does list it at 5.6 as most news sources are saying. Still, even a 5.6 is not typically expected to cause such widespread death and destruction, but one thing different about this one was that it was a “shallow” quake. Seismic events that occur closer to the Earth’s surface lose less of their energy as the force travels outward and upward, so they can have a much greater impact than the magnitude number would imply. And when they are centered near a densely populated area where structures are not built to adequately withstand the shaking, the results can be disastrous, as Indonesia experienced on Tuesday.

Fireball activity also appears to be on the rise again. The American Meteor Society has posted several new events from Monday and Tuesday night, with reports coming from Europe and just about all parts of the US. The most widely reported events were at 2142 UT on the 22nd with about 75 reports from Great Britain and France, plus another 65 reports coming from California and Nevada for a fireball seen at 0242 UT on November 23 (or about 6:42 PM on the 22nd PST).

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 61, down 22 from yesterday. The geomagnetic field has remained Quiet with the Planetary K Index still hovering around 1. Solar observations have detected some extreme activity on the far side of the Sun, so if the active region holds together it could be facing the Earth in about 10-14 days.

And finally, with the Thanksgiving holiday coming up and so many people making extensive travel plans over the next several days, we’d like to advise you to be alert to your local weather forecasts. Although conditions are relatively quiet and pleasant across much of the country today, a low pressure system currently developing in the western US is expected to bring a mixed bag of precipitation with everything from thunderstorms to heavy snow and rainfall across the south and southeast beginning Thursday and continuing through the weekend. New Mexico and the panhandle area of Texas are especially likely to see unusual amounts of early snow from this system.

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For Tuesday, 22 November, 2022

This was the 326th day of the year with 39 days remaining.

The Sun was in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.

If you have a clear view of the western horizon take a look about 15 to 20 minutes after the Sun drops out of view and you might catch a glimpse of tiny Mercury and bright Venus following closely behind the Sun before they also dip out of sight. The Moon will be setting before the Sun tonight, and about the same time as the Sun tomorrow, so you won’t see it on those nights, but on Thursday night you might just see an extremely thin sliver of the Crescent Moon teaming up with Mercury and Venus soon after Sunset.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 83, up 11 from yesterday. The geomagnetic field has remained Quiet with the Planetary K Index hovering around 1.

A 7.0 earthquake struck near the Solomon Islands at 2103 UT, just a few minutes after our broadcast ended last night. The Solomon Islands are located in the South Pacific east of Papua New Guinea with a total population of about 700,000. There were reports of collapsed roofs, communication and power lines down, and continued aftershocks. A tsunami warning was issued but withdrawn when the danger had passed. The Baja Peninsula in northwestern Mexico was also rocked today by a 6.2 magnitude quake at 1639 UT.

But another earthquake has proven more destructive and deadly today, even though it was of a much lower magnitude. Initially reported as a 5.6 quake, the USGS now has it listed as 5.1, but it toppled numerous buildings on the densely populated island of Java in Indonesia. At this time over 260 deaths have been reported, many of them schoolchildren, and the number of dead and injured is expected to rise.

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For Monday, 21 November, 2022

This was the 325th day of the year with just 40 days remaining.

The Sun was in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra, moving into Scorpio.

Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are still prominent in the late night sky. Venus is setting about 20 minutes after the Sun goes down this week, so you might catch a brief glimpse of our sister planet if you have a clear view of the western horizon when twilight begins. Mercury, which had been visible before sunrise earlier in the month, has now circled around the Sun and is positioned between the Sun and Venus from our perspective on Earth, so it will also become visible after sunset soon.

The number of meteor fireball reports to the American Meteor Society has surged since our last broadcast on Friday. There were more than two dozen reports from New Zealand for a fireball at 1524 UT on the 18th, which would have been 4:24 AM of the 19th in their time zone. Over 130 reports were filed for a fireball seen at 0313 UT on the 20th (or 10:14 PM on the 19th EST) by observers in Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Ontario. And about 33 people in California, Arizona and Nevada reported a fireball seen around 0615 UT on the 20th, or about 10:15 PM on the 19th California time.

But the most newsworthy fireball event of the weekend occurred at 0827 UT on the 19th, which was 3:27 AM Saturday morning Eastern Time. Whereas most of the meteors that we see are actually particles smaller than a grain of sand, that early morning bolide was a small asteroid estimated to be about a meter in diameter. This asteroid was detected by astronomers just a few hours before it impacted the Earth’s atmosphere, and they were able to predict the time and place it would hit with impressive accuracy. Remnants of the asteroid landed over Lake Ontario between Hamilton, Ontario and Niagara Falls, NY. About 60 people witnessed the fireball and reported it to the AMS, and numerous video images captured by automated cameras have been posted to the web. This is said to have been the 6th asteroid impact that was successfully predicted, and the smallest asteroid ever discovered while I was still in space.

An M1 class solar flare erupted on Saturday, November 19 at about 1256 UT, triggering some brief effects in Earth’s ionosphere. The Planetary K Index ranged from 1 to 3 over the weekend and it nudged a little higher earlier today, but so far Geomagnetic conditions have not risen to the storm level forecasters were predicting last week.

Orion, the spacecraft NASA launched last week, made a successful loop around the Moon this morning. It took photos of the far side of the Moon, recorded data needed in advance of the next crewed mission, and successfully fired its engines in a maneuver that will help put it into what’s called a Distant Retrograde Orbit. This “DRO” is an elliptical orbit taking the craft as far as 40,000 miles from the Lunar surface, and will be finalized after another crucial engine firing on Friday. Then on December 1st another engine burn will send Orion back towards the Earth.

And finally, on Friday’s show we mentioned that Buffalo, New York was expected to get up to five feet of snow over the weekend. In fact, the official measurement at the Buffalo Niagara International

Airport was a mere 36.7 inches, but other localities nearby did receive five feet and up to nearly 7 feet of lake effect snow from this historic weather event.

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For Friday, 18 November, 2022

This was the 322nd day of the year with 43 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo, moving into Libra.

We haven’t mentioned them lately but the planets Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are still gracing the evening skies with their presence. Saturn is now setting about an hour before midnight, and Jupiter around 2:00 AM, but Mars will be staying up all night long. And we’re pleased to announce that Venus is about to make a return visit to the night sky – in fact, if the Sun hasn’t set yet at your location, try looking for Venus trailing about 15 minutes behind the Sun as they make their way below the horizon. In the coming days and weeks Venus will be growing ever more noticeable in the west after sunset.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 64, down 21 from yesterday. The geomagnetic field remains Quiet but the Planetary K Index has risen above 1 for the first time in days. The K Index is currently standing at 3 and forecasters are expecting a further increase in geomagnetic activity soon because a stream of charged solar particles is heading towards Earth from a gaping coronal hole on the Sun.

A 6.9 earthquake struck Indonesia at 1337 UT today. This was the 5th earthquake greater than 6.0 magnitude in less than a week. Meanwhile, the area of Texas that experienced a 5.4 quake on the 16th is still being rocked by smaller tremblers. Over two dozen quakes in the 2.5 to 4.0 magnitude range have been centered within the 5 mile radius since Wednesday, and if we zoom out about 20 miles more the number jumps to 35.

Still no big surge of fireball sighting reports from the American Meteor Society, but the Leonid Meteor Shower may be peaking soon. 0600 UT on the 19th (or around 1:00 AM EST Saturday morning) is one of the time periods expected to produce an especially high period of activity. 1500 UT on Monday the 21st is the next predicted high point, but a Leonid meteor could be seen just about any time after local midnight.

If it’s too cloudy, cold, or snowy to look for meteors where you live, you might try listening for them on an FM radio. The ionized trails of falling meteors can reflect radio and television signals from stations that are normally too distant for you to receive. The trick is to tune an FM radio (preferably a good quality radio with an external antenna) to a frequency where no local station is coming in. Then, just sit back and listen to the static for a while. If a strange signal suddenly breaks through above the noise for a few seconds, chances are it came to you courtesy of a “falling star”.

And now let’s all take a moment of silence for Buffalo, New York…… That silence will emulate the sound of five feet of snow falling in and around western New York State over the next day or so. Five feet is a little over 152 centimeters for our metric listeners, and it’s a lot to get at one time — even by Buffalo standards.

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For Thursday, 17 November, 2022

This was the 321st day of the year with 44 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Crescent Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo.

According to the US Geological Survey a 5.4 earthquake struck west Texas yesterday at 2132 UT. Although 5.4 isn’t an extremely powerful quake it was unusual for the area. In fact, one internet source we came across claimed that it was the 3rd strongest earthquake in Texas history, and this appears to be true if you count it as a tie for third place with the 5.4 that occurred on July 30, 1925. The strongest known earthquake centered in Texas was a 6.0 in 1931, and there was a 5.7 in 1995. And curiously enough, while we were looking into the Texas earthquake story three new quakes have appeared on the USGS map; two in Alaska and one in Oklahoma. Another quake occurred in Colorado earlier today. These were all relatively minor, but there’s suddenly more seismic activity than we’ve seen recently in North America.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 85, up 16 from yesterday. The geomagnetic field remains Quiet and the Planetary K Index is still ranging around 1 and below. The Auroral Oval is still hovering over the regions near 60° latitude and above, but forecasters are still predicting an increase in geomagnetic activity with a stream of solar particles from an enormous coronal hole coming our way.

At least four new fireball events were reported to the American Meteor Society from last night, although the number of people reporting them continues to be much lower than we saw during the Taurids meteor shower. All of last night’s fireballs were evening events seen along the northern tier of the US and into Ontario.

We’ve been referring to the upcoming Leonid Meteor Shower this week and its peak – or one of them at least – is happening tonight. The Leonids are known for producing meteor storms about every 33 years. In 1833 a Leonid storm occurred over eastern North America and over 100,000 meteors per hour were widely observed. This was a truly historic event with widespread cultural, as well as scientific ramifications.

The comet responsible for the cosmic debris that produces the Leonid shower was discovered in December of 1865 by French Astronomer William Tempel, and then independently observed by the American Horace Tuttle in January of 1866, so the comet was named for them both and it is now officially designated as Comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.

After the comet’s orbit was calculated astronomers recognized it as the source of the recurring November meteor showers. Each time it comes around and intersects the path of Earth’s orbit the comet leaves a trail of cast off particles that linger and accumulate within discrete clusters of varying

density. Based on centuries of historical data pertaining to the Leonids astronomers are able to predict the times and likely intensity of the shower’s display for any given year.

Nothing comparable to the meteor storm of 1833 is expected this year, and unfortunately the light of the Moon will interfere during the times of optimum viewing, but when it comes to meteors, surprises do happen. The International Meteor Society has an extensive and very interesting article about viewing the Leonids on their website, and they list the following times as being especially likely to provide the most meteors:

2300 UT on the 17th (or about 6:00 PM EST) 0700 UT on the 18th (about 2:00 AM EST) 0600 UT on the 19th (around 1:00 AM EST – and this one is considered a “major” peak) 1500 UT on the 21st (around 10:00 AM EST)

Remember though, Leonid meteors are not restricted to just those time frames, and even though they appear to “radiate” outward from the constellation Leo, the meteor trails can be seen just about anywhere in the sky. Watchers are advised to find a location that lies within the shadow of the Moon to give your eyes the best possible adaptation to the lighting conditions, and to try looking eastward late at night and very early in the morning before the Moon rises. That will be around midnight to 1:00 AM local time for the next few nights, then later each night over the weekend.

The image below is a famous illustration of the 1833 Leonid Meteor storm. Adolf Vollmy’s 1889 engraving was based on a painting by Karl Jauslin that was in turn based on an eye witness account of the event by a minister who was traveling from Florida to New Orleans at the time.

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For Wednesday, 16 November, 2022

This was the 320th day of the year with 45 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Last Quarter Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Leo moving into Virgo.

Only two new fireball events for Tuesday night have been posted by the American Meteor Society and these were only reported by 5 or 6 people each. This despite the fact that the Leonid meteor shower is becoming more active as it approaches a peak around the weekend. Leonid meteors appear to radiate from the direction of the constellation Leo, which is currently high in the sky in the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately the Moon will also be in Leo during the best times for watching the Leonid meteors, so all but the very brightest ones will be washed out by the bright Lunar glow.

Would-be meteor watchers are advised to find a location that lies within the shadow of the Moon to give your eyes the best possible adaptation to the lighting conditions, and to try looking late at night before the Moon rises. That will be around midnight to 1:00 AM local time for the next few nights.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 69, down 8 from yesterday. The geomagnetic field remains Quiet and the Planetary K Index has barely nudged to 1. The Auroral Oval has retreated to the regions near 60° latitude but forecasters are predicting an increase in geomagnetic activity soon.

Artemis I’s flight to the Moon was delayed by about 43 minutes from the scheduled time, but the massive SLS rocket engines fired at 1:47 AM Eastern Time this morning and all went well for the historic launch. The Orion spacecraft is now on its way to the Moon and should return to Earth on December 11th.

We had hoped to perform our own historic scientific experiment during the Artemis I launch to see whether WRMI’s 100 thousand watt radio signal from the transmitter site at Lake Okeechobee would be affected by the 320 foot tall rocket when it blasted off from the Kennedy Space Center less than 100 miles away.

Anyone old enough to know about watching analog TV stations using a rooftop antenna may remember how the picture would often flutter and flicker when airplanes flew overhead. In fact, the same sort of interference still occurs due to signals being reflected by airplanes, satellites and even meteors, but in today’s digital age these effects aren’t usually as noticeable to the average TV viewer or radio listener.

On the other hand, short wave radio listeners are well aware of the variations in signal quality caused by solar and atmospheric conditions, etc. so they should be quick to recognize when something out of the ordinary is happening to the radio signal they’re listening to. WRMI’s station manager Jeff White was interested in testing to see whether the Moon rocket would impact his station’s signal and made a very special arrangement with UFO Joe to keep the 5.950 MHz transmitter operating during the time of the Artemis launch. Yourufoshow.com did a special broadcast from 1:00 AM to 1:30 AM ET asking listeners to report any unusual effects observed at the time of the launch, which was scheduled for 1:04 AM ET.

Apparently NASA engineers did not get the memo about our on-air science project and they delayed the launch until 17 minutes after the special broadcast ended and the transmitter was turned off. Maybe we’ll try again when Artemis II is launched in 2024, but if any listeners did notice any unusual effects to the signal from one of WRMI’s other frequencies that were still operating at 1:47 AM Eastern Time this morning (0647 UT) please let us know.

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For Tuesday, 15 November, 2022

This was the 319th day of the year with 46 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Cancer and the astro-Logical sign of Leo.

Only three new fireball events have been posted by the American Meteor Society from last night. Each event was only reported by about a dozen observers and they were all from the southeastern quadrant of the US. It certainly seems that something very unusual had been going on with fireballs in recent weeks, and whatever it was, it has faded away.

Tomorrow a Near Earth Object about the size of a van will pass by the Earth as close as .375 Lunar Distances away – that’s less than halfway between us and the Moon. The NEO is designated as 2018 WH and its closest approach will be around 1930 UT.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 77, up 3 from yesterday. There was an M1 solar flare at 0251 UT this morning, and it was followed by a series of lower level C class flares, but so far the geomagnetic field has remained Quiet. The planetary K index is still hovering around 1.

Our major space news story for today is the much anticipated launch of NASA’s Artemis I, the first big step in a mission to send humans back to the Moon. After months of delays from technical glitches and hurricane related roll backs, the unmanned test flight is set to go at 1:04 AM EST November 16th. That’s less than 5 hours from now. Of course, there are often last minute delays during the countdown period, and there is a two hour launch window built into the schedule, but if all goes well the spacecraft will be on its way to the Moon very early tomorrow morning.

To clarify some of the terms you might hear associated with this launch: Artemis is the name of the overall mission program, analogous to Mercury and Apollo, the Moon mission program names of the 1960’s and 70’s. Tomorrow’s un-crewed Artemis I launch will be followed by Artemis II, a more complex flight with a human crew. The spacecraft module that will actually be making the trip around the Moon and back is called Orion. The combination of liquid and solid fuel rocket stages that will be lifting Orion into space is referred to as the SLS, short for “Space Launch System.” There is also an “Interim Cryogenic Propulsion Stage” or ICPS that will deliver a turbo-charged “trans-lunar injection” to boost Orion out of Earth orbit and on its way to the Moon. Also included with this flight will be the release of 10 small satellites called CubeSats that will be deployed to (quote) “perform experiments and technology demonstrations” (unquote) according to NASA’s press release package.

The flight to the Moon and back will take about 25 and a half days and cover some 1.3 million miles. Return to Earth and splashdown should be on December 11th. The launch will be broadcast live on NASA TV and observers in Florida may even get to see the SLS and its exhaust plume from hundreds of miles away. We’ll post a graphic from NASA that illustrates when and where the launch could be visible to the eye along with tonight’s report on the Yourufoshow.com website.

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For Monday, 14 November, 2022

This was the 318th day of the year with 47 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Cancer and the astro-Logical sign of Leo.

It does seem that the recent run of widespread fireball sightings is winding down. Only about a dozen fireball events reported by at least 5 observers have been logged by the American Meteor Society since our broadcast on Friday. And of those 12 or so events, only two had more than 10 people reporting them: A little more than a dozen people in the New England area of the US reported a fireball seen at 8:15 PM EST Saturday night, and about the same number of people in the north west corner of the US saw one at 3:48 AM PST early Sunday morning.

There should still be a certain amount of meteor activity from several minor showers currently active, as well as the recent major showers that have passed their peak. Meanwhile, another major shower, the Leonids, is becoming more active with its peak predicted for Friday morning. We’ll have more to say about the Leonids as the week goes on, but unfortunately the light of the Moon will minimize good viewing opportunities for them this year.

Remember the house in California that received so much attention last week because people suspected a meteor had struck it and caused the fire that burned it down? Well, investigators are pouring cold water on the fireball theory, but they say the final report will come in about two weeks.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 74, down 5 from Friday. Last week’s M class solar flares did not repeat over the weekend, so the geomagnetic field has been Quiet for days. The Planetary K Index is currently hovering around 1.

The company responsible for the BlueWalker 3 satellite has confirmed that its 64 square meter antenna array is fully deployed now, and many observers have been seeing it reflecting the sun’s light over their skies in the early mornings and evenings. Reports so far indicate that it is not significantly brighter than the International Space Station or Tiangong, the Chinese space station, but astronomers are still worried what the effect will be when there are hundreds of even bigger BlueWalkers in orbit.

NASA is still go for the launch date of Wednesday November 16 for the Artemis 1 rocket’s unmanned mission around the moon and back. Previous launch attempts were scrubbed due to technical problems, and then the rocket had to be removed from the launch pad during Hurricane Ian. It was returned to the pad before Hurricane Nicole developed and engineers decided to leave it in place during that second storm. Nicole’s winds were higher than expected and some damages were sustained, but the rocket scientists say there was nothing that couldn’t be repaired in time for the launch on Wednesday.

There was another strong earthquake in the South Pacific on Saturday. The 7.0 quake at 0709 UT was in the same general area that experienced several powerful tremors last week. On Sunday there was a 6.2 quake near the cost of Chile in South America, and earlier today a 6.1 quake registered off the coast of Japan.

And finally, in the “no news is good news” department, the National Hurricane Center says that no Tropical Cyclone activity is expected for at least the next 48 hours.

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For Friday, 11 November, 2022

This was the 315th day of the year with just 50 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Gemini and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini moving into Cancer.

According to the Gregorian calendar, today was 11-11. This date was formerly known as Armistice Day, which commemorated the signing of the armistice agreement that heralded the end of the First World War. The Armistice was signed at the 11th hour, on the 11th day of the 11th month. The date became known as Veterans Day in the US following the Korean War, while in Canada, Australia, the UK, and other countries in the Commonwealth of Nations, it is observed as Remembrance Day. Furthermore, an interesting spread of spiritual and mystical meanings have been associated with the number 11-11 in recent years, and many people say they have a strange tendency to look at clocks right when the time happens to be 11:11.

Last night Mars appeared to the left of the Moon. Tonight Mars will be above and to the right of the Moon. Mars is positioned between the long horns of Taurus the Bull, and the red planet will be moving ever closer towards the red giant star Aldeberan, which is the “eye” of the Bull, in the coming days and weeks. Another red giant, Betelgeuse, is located nearby in the shoulder of Orion, and the Pleiades star cluster is above and to the right (or west). These are some of the most familiar star patterns in the sky, and recent November evenings have provided great opportunities for learning about the Moon, stars, and planets, whether you are simply looking with your eyes or with binoculars and telescopes.

In yesterday’s report we wondered about the sudden drop in fireball sightings, but now it seems the American Meteor Society was simply not as prompt as they usually are in posting them. Today there were about a dozen new sightings logged, but that covers a two night period, so the overall numbers are still off from what they have been recently. The majority of the latest sighting reports are from Europe, with the most widely reported event being at 2103 UT Thursday night for about 56 observers in the Netherlands, Great Britain, France, Germany, and Belgium. Another four dozen people in Arizona, southwestern California, and northwestern Mexico, reported seeing a fireball at 0014 UT, or around 8:14 PM Thursday night their local time.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 79, down 2 from yesterday, however, there was another M class Solar Flare at 0714 UT this morning. Although this was a relatively low level M1 flare, any charged particles projected from it could be headed our way. The Planetary K Index is currently at 3 and is likely rise if there is more Solar activity over the weekend. Residents of the northern latitudes should be on the watch for possible Auroral activity.

There was a 7.3 earthquake in the Tonga region at 1048 UT today. This follows the series of strong earthquakes in the same region on Wednesday. We had mentioned how this geographical region, named the Kermadec-Tonga Subduction Zone, is the site of overlapping tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust, and that it has the largest number of underwater volcanos on the planet – but we failed to note that it is the very same area where the biggest ever recorded explosion of an underwater volcano had occurred back in January of this year. According to a news article from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory written on a follow-up study about that historic eruption: (Quote)

“When the Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted on Jan. 15, it sent a tsunami racing around the world and set off a sonic boom that circled the globe twice. The underwater eruption in the South Pacific Ocean also blasted an enormous plume of water vapor into Earth’s stratosphere – enough to fill more than 58,000 Olympic-size swimming pools. The sheer amount of water vapor could be enough to temporarily affect Earth’s global average temperature.” (Unquote.)

That January event had global implications for the future, and many immediate problems for the Kingdom of Tonga, which is an archipelago that includes some 45 inhabited islands in the South Pacific. A Tsunami warning was issued following today’s 7.3 earthquake in the region, and while no significant waves resulted this time, we have to wonder if the recent earthquakes are a sign of things to come?

After leaving a path of flooded homes, washed out buildings, eroded beaches, and at least five deaths in Florida, Nicole is now a weakened Tropical Storm heading north. Heavy rain and gusty winds will impact the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountain chains through tonight, with the possibility of flash flooding along the way. The western parts of the Carolinas, western Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and western New York appear set to receive the bulk of the rainfall, with tornado watches and warnings also likely in the adjacent areas.

As a final note, we’ve just learned that Bluewalker 3, the internet providing satellite with the enormous antenna array, appears to have begun unfurling its 64 square meter antenna. If so, it may soon become an easily visible object in our morning and evening skies. Observers in southwestern California, southwest Nevada, the Baja Peninsula, and other parts of north western Mexico should be on the lookout around 4:56 AM PST Saturday morning, and 4:39 AM PST Sunday morning. Bluewalker will be passing almost directly overhead of those areas, moving from Northwest to Southeast on both mornings. If you spot it please tell us what you see.

The two images below illustrate the location of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Islands and how their land mass has been changed by extreme volcanic activity in recent years.

Images courtesy NASA’s Earth Observatory from the article here:

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For Thursday, 10 November, 2022

This was the 314th day of the year with 51 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini.

The Moon will play leap frog with the planet Mars over the next two nights. Tonight the Moon will be slightly above and to the west (or right) of Mars. Then on Friday night Mars will be west (or right) of the Moon. Mars is rising shortly after 7:00 PM local standard time, so viewing should be good soon after that, depending on your eastern horizon and whether Nicole is bringing clouds to your area. The easily recognizable constellation Orion will also be hovering near the Moon on both nights. The red giant Betelgeuse is the bright star in Orion’s left shoulder, and Aldeberan, another red giant, will be over to the right in the eye of Taurus the Bull. With Mars in the scene there will be a trio of reddish objects fairly close together in the sky, and just how red each of these objects looks will give you a clue as to the clarity of the atmosphere above you, and/or how much light pollution you may have.

The recent run of widespread fireball sightings seems to have come to a halt with only 3 events logged by the American Meteor Society since yesterday’s report, and there were relatively few witnesses for those. Sometimes there’s a delay with the AMS postings since every observer’s report has to be reviewed for accuracy before it is officially logged, but for now we have to wonder where have all the fireballs gone – and where did they all come from over the past few weeks?

Incidentally, one of the regular listeners to our show, Mark in Ontario, was one of nine witnesses that reported a fireball event to the AMS on Tuesday night at 8:51 PM EST. And we’re still waiting to learn whether the California rancher’s house fire last Friday night was officially ruled as being due to a meteor strike. If anyone has inside information from the Nevada County, California fire investigation we’d like to hear about it.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 81, down 4 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet today, with no significant Solar flares since Tuesday. The Planetary K Index has essentially flat-lined, hovering between 0 and 1 all day.

Nicole made landfall as a Cat 1 Hurricane near Vero Beach, Florida early this morning, then quickly weakened back to Tropical Storm status. Nicole went on record as being the latest-in-the-season hurricane to make landfall in Florida. The center of the storm is currently over “The Big Bend” area of the Sunshine State with sustained winds around 45 MPH. While Nicole did not wreak the level of devastation associated with Ian, she did cause widespread damage to homes, hotels, streets and various structures in her path. Two people were killed when they somehow made contact with a downed power line in Conway, Florida.

Northern Florida and southern Georgia will continue to feel Tropical Storm impact tonight with coastal storm surge and localized flooding still expected. By Friday what remains of Nicole will head north, following the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountain chains with the possibility of flash flooding along the way. Heavy rain will progress through North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York and beyond into the weekend.

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For Wednesday, 9 November, 2022

This was the 313th day of the year with 52 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini.

The planet Uranus is at opposition today, meaning that it is positioned in a direct line with the Earth and Sun and at an optimum viewing position. We had mentioned that Uranus would be close to the Moon and might be seen during the total Lunar Eclipse on Tuesday morning, and although it isn’t as close to the Moon now, the bright Moonshine will still make it difficult to see the Solar System’s third largest planet tonight. Since the Moon will be rising progressively later each evening there should be some better Uranus viewing times soon. A good telescope will be required to see any color and detail though – look for a blue planet spinning on its side – that will be Uranus, the only planet in our Solar system that rotates perpendicular to its orbital plane.

Another dozen separate fireball events have been logged by the American Meteor Society since yesterday. This seems to be the new normal, and many people around the world are not only seeing the frequent fireballs, they are capturing videos of them with doorbell cameras, dash-cams, cell phones, etc. As a result, some amazing meteor images are being posted on the internet these days.

Over 100 people reported a fireball seen over the Netherlands, Ireland, Great Britain, France and Belgium at about 9:00 PM their time last night. Another 100 plus witnesses along the northeastern coast of North America from Virginia to New Brunswick, Canada and out as far as Toronto and Ontario, witnessed a fireball at about 7:30 PM EST. About two hours later another fireball was seen by over 100 people from Alabama to Michigan, and from Maryland to St. Louis, Missouri.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 85, up 5 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet today, with no significant Solar flares since yesterday’s M5. The current Planetary K Index is 0.

A series of the most powerful earthquakes we’ve seen for some time occurred this morning in a deep ocean area south of the Fiji Islands, north of New Zealand, and east of Australia. This area is near what is known as the “Kermadec-Tonga Subduction Zone” where two tectonic plates in the Earth’s crust have overlapped. The plates are continually moving across each other and produce frequent earthquakes. This zone is also said to have the longest chain of underwater volcanos on our planet. A 6.8 quake was recorded at 0938 UT this morning, followed by a 7.0 at 0951 UT, and a 6.6 at 1014 UT.

Nicole is now is classified a hurricane with over 70 MPH sustained winds, but the National Hurricane Center is warning Florida to be prepared for full on hurricane conditions as the big system tracks across the Sunshine State tonight. Large waves and dangerous storm surge are expected for the coastal areas, with heavy rain and high winds continuing farther inland. Southern Georgia will begin to experience the tropical effects of Nicole by midnight, and the storm will move across upper Georgia, South Carolina, and into the southwestern North Carolina mountains on Thursday. By Friday and Saturday it will be primarily a rain event impacting every state on the east cost of the US and parts of Canada.

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For Tuesday, 8 November, 2022

This was the 312th day of the year with 53 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Full Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Taurus, moving into Gemini.

This morning’s total Lunar Eclipse occurred precisely on schedule and was witnessed by millions of people across the western hemisphere, Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. We’ll have more to say about this event at the end of tonight’s report.

There was a bit of a delay with the American Meteor Society’s posting of new fireball sighting reports since Sunday night, and we wonder if it’s because they are being overwhelmed by the sheer number coming in. They’ve been posting about a dozen per day recently, and that seems about three or four times more than normal. Great Britain, Italy, France, Austria, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, as well as the US and Canada, have all experienced fireball events over the past two nights. The most widely reported sighting occurred at 5:58 EST this morning with over 70 witnesses scattered from Georgia into Michigan and Ontario, Canada, and from Washington, D.C. to Illinois and all parts in between, reporting a bright fireball that fell during the Lunar eclipse’s period of maximum totality.

Yesterday we mentioned that a cattle rancher’s house in northern California was thought to have been hit and destroyed in a fire from a meteorite that many people saw in that area on Friday night. The story has now been covered by just about every news outlet on the planet, but meteor experts are skeptical. Despite the fact that exceptionally bright meteors are called “fireballs,” they only look like balls of fire when they’re falling through Earth’s atmosphere. They’re actually known to be extremely cold if and when they hit the ground. Of course it’s possible the meteorite could have hit something else that exploded into flames and caused the house to burn down, but word from the official fire investigation team has not yet confirmed it.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 80, up 2 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet to Unsettled today. The current Planetary K Index is 2. The sunspot cluster that unleashed an M5 level flare yesterday is growing and rotating more directly towards Earth, so if it should flare again soon we could expect a greater impact to the geomagnetic field.

Nicole has been promoted from Sub-Tropical to Tropical Storm status, with maximum sustained winds around 65 MPH. That’s just 9 MPH shy of Category 1 Hurricane designation, and the storm is likely to intensify and deliver hurricane conditions to the Bahamas by Wednesday, and to southeastern and east-central Florida by Wednesday night. Heavy rainfall and flash flooding, along with dangerous storm surge and damaging waves are predicted for parts of Florida and coastal Georgia. Later in the week Nicole will move inland and bring up to 4” of rain to parts of the eastern US as far north as western New York State.

And now a few personal words about this morning’s Lunar Eclipse:

The skies have been covered by clouds and fog almost every night that we’ve had meteor showers, planetary alignments, and other recent sky-watching events here in Virginia, but early this morning the sky was remarkably clear for an almost perfect view of the eclipse from my bedroom window. I’m not an expert astro-photographer and you can easily find many pictures of the eclipse that show more and better detail than the ones below, but since I consider the State of the Earth Report to be a daily summary for people who, like me, aren’t experts but have an healthy appetite for such things, I’d like to share three of the pics I took with my 20 year old digital camera. No special lenses or filters were used, and unfortunately, no tripod either, but I think these pics give a pretty good representation of the eclipse from near its beginning to near totality when the Moon started descending below the trees.

If you have any comments or pictures to share about the lunar eclipse (or other phenomena you’ve seen in the sky) feel free to share them with us.

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For Monday, 7 November, 2022

This was the 311th day of the year with 54 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aries and the astro-Logical sign of Taurus.

The American Meteor Society received over 300 fireball sighting reports for over a dozen separate fireball events seen in Europe, Canada, and the US since last Friday night’s broadcast. The most widely reported event happened around 0227 UT with over 100 witnesses reporting from California, Nevada and Oregon – this sighting was at about 7:30 PM Friday evening for observers in the Pacific Daylight Time zone. In Europe, another 45+ observers reported a fireball seen over Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Slovenia at 2055 UT, or at about 10:00PM Saturday night their time. And soon after 10:30 PM EDT on Saturday night (or 0141 UT) over 30 people in the eastern US from North Carolina northward to Rochester and Buffalo, New York, and as far west as Fort Loramie, Ohio witnessed another bright fireball. It’s also worth mentioning that about 20 people in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico reported a fireball seen in the middle of the day on Sunday, just a little before noon in their Mountain Time zone, or 1847 UT.

And if seeing fireballs at noon isn’t strange enough, we learned today that a cattle rancher’s house in northern California may have been hit and destroyed by the meteorite that was so widely seen in that area on Friday night. We hope to have more details on this story soon.

Although the Southern Taurid meteor shower has recently peaked, it is still active, and now the Northern Taurid shower is advancing towards its peak around November 12. There are several other minor showers currently active as well, and one of the most significant showers of the year, the Leonids, is also beginning to build toward its peak around November 18th. Glare from the nearly Full Moon will tend to obscure all but the very brightest meteors, stars and planets in the overnight sky this week, unless you plan your viewing times around the Moon’s schedule, however.

And speaking of the Full Moon, the major astronomical event of the week will be a total eclipse of the Moon early Tuesday morning. About two weeks ago the New Moon passed between Earth and the Sun, and that conjunction produced a partial Solar eclipse. Europe had the best vantage point to see that one, but tomorrow the Earth will slide directly in between the Sun and the Moon when people in the Americas, Australia, and parts of Asia will have the best view.

Whereas a Solar eclipse lasts only a matter of minutes, the Lunar eclipse will span more than three hours from beginning to end, with the period of totality lasting almost an hour and a half. The western United States and Canada will experience the full duration of totality. Visibility of the event will be cut a little short for observers on the east coast of the US because the Sun will be rising a little before the eclipse is over, but east coasters will still get to see a good share of totality as long as they’re up before Sunrise and look west.

You may want to make a note of the following times pertaining to tomorrow’s eclipse. Convert the times given in Universal Time to your own local time zone and set your alarm clock accordingly. After all, there won’t be another Total Lunar eclipse until March 14, 2025:

The Earth’s shadow will begin to move over the Moon at 0909 UT. The Moon will be completely within Earth’s shadow (totally eclipsed) from 1016 UT until 1141 UT. The moment of maximum eclipse, when the center of Earth’s shadow will be directly over the center of the Moon is 1059 UT. The Moon will pass completely out of the Earth’s shadow at 1249 UT.

It is perfectly safe to view a Lunar Eclipse without any special eye protection, but binoculars or a telescope will give you an enhanced view. As an added bonus, the planet Uranus will be located about two Lunar diameters above the Moon, more or less in the 11 o’clock position, so during the total eclipse phase you may be able to spot this normally hard to find planet with binoculars or a small telescope. The Pleiades star cluster, the planet Mars, and the bright red star Aldeberan will all be in close proximity to the Moon and may become visible to the eye when the bright glow of the Full Moon is obscured.

As for the Sun, the current Boulder Sunspot Number is 78, up 13 from Friday. Shortly after midnight UT today, the Sun released an M5 level flare – the first M class flare we’ve seen for weeks. On Monday afternoon the Planetary K Index reached 5, indicating Minor Geomagnetic Storm conditions. Observers in the northern latitudes may get to see some Auroras along with the Lunar Eclipse.

Meanwhile, out in the Atlantic Ocean, a new Subtropical Storm named Nicole formed over the weekend. Maximum current winds are around 45 MPH, but forecasters say the storm could reach hurricane proportions by the time it reaches the Bahamas and Florida in the next few days. Regardless of her wind speed, however, Nicole will certainly bring heavy rain and the potential for coastal flooding and dangerous storm surge to the Bahamas tomorrow, and to the east coast of Florida by Wednesday. Southern parts of Georgia and South Carolina will likely receive the effects of Nicole later on Wednesday, and the system is expected to continue northward along the east coast through the end of the week.

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For Friday, 4 November, 2022  

This was the 308th day of the year with 57 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Pisces and the astro-Logical sign of Aries. 

As of Friday morning Eastern Time, the American Meteor Society had already logged sightings for a dozen separate fireball events seen in Europe, Canada, and all across the US from yesterday. Not only is this number of events above the norm, but some of the fireballs were reported by an unusually high number of witnesses. For example:

About 30 reports came from southern New Jersey through New York into Maine and Montreal for a fireball seen around 6:07 AM EDT, and another morning fireball was reported by over 40 people from Pennsylvania to Vermont, Ontario and Quebec around 7:12 AM EDT. Then around 9:16 PM EDT last night, soon after yourufoshow ended, over 150 people along the northeastern coastal area from Virginia into Ottawa and New Brunswick, Canada witnessed another exceptionally bright meteor fall. Many other fireball events were reported by at least five observers from other parts of the US, as well as Great Britain, France, and Italy.

Tonight into early tomorrow morning will be the anticipated peak time of the annual Taurid meteor shower and a potential “swarm” of meteors. If the recent fireball reports are any indication, the next 24 hours could be very interesting for sky watchers around the world. The Waxing Gibbous Moon will prevent watchers from seeing all but the brightest stars and meteors until the Moon sets around 3:30 AM Local Daylight Time, but that bright “star” you may see standing directly above and close to the Moon earlier in the evening is actually the planet Jupiter. On Tuesday Saturn was similarly close to the Moon, and with the Moon rising later each evening it is now Jupiter’s turn for an apparent close approach tonight. This has certainly been a great week for studying the relative motions of the Moon, planets and constellations.

On Friday morning the Boulder Sunspot Number was 65, up 16 from yesterday. Yesterday’s Geomagnetic Storm conditions did yield some bright Auroras in the far northern latitudes. The Planetary K Index has settled back down around 3 so far today, but solar weather forecasters are predicting heightened Geomagnetic activity later today or tomorrow. 

Former Hurricane Lisa, is now just a system of rain with winds around 30 MPH, but localized flooding is still possible along the southeastern coast of Mexico. Yesterday Hurricane Martin gained some noteworthiness as going the farthest north of any November hurricane on record, but now it has already dropped off the National Hurricane Center’s tracking list.

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For Thursday, 3 November, 2022  

This was the 307th day of the year with 58 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.The Waxing Gibbous Moon was in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces. 

There were more pre-midnight fireball sightings from Europe and the US on the night of November 2nd. The most widely reported events were for one over France at 1815 UT, another fireball was seen at 7:04 PM EDT from Maryland and Pennsylvania to New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts, and a third from Alabama and Mississippi across to Indiana and Illinois at 1009 EDT. The American Meteor Society also logged several other fireball events reported by at least 5 observers last night. We should point out that the AMS defines a “fireball” meteor to be one that shines brighter than the planet Venus, which is significantly brighter than the typical meteors more commonly seen.

All week we’ve been announcing the annual peak of the Taurid meteor shower would be coming up on the night of November 4th to 5th, but today we’ve come across information that some authorities consider this shower’s peak is actually in late October. But while there may be some debate among experts about the absolute peak date of the Taurids, or the “Southern Taurids” to be more precise, it is universally accepted that this is a complex meteor shower with several components that overlap over a period of weeks. There is even speculation that the famous Tunguska meteor event of 1908 may have been due to the same comet that gives rise to the Taurids every year. In any case, the historical data does suggest that the coming nights will bring an unusually high number of visible meteors, and your best chances of seeing them will be in the wee hours of the morning after the Moon has set during the next few nights.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 49, down 14 from yesterday. Despite the scarcity of sunspots or solar flares, Geomagnetic conditions have gone from Unsettled to Minor Storm levels today with the Planetary K Index currently at 5. Observers in far northern latitudes should be alert for Auroras.

Belize took a direct hit from Hurricane Lisa, and the neighboring coastal areas of Central America and Mexico also felt Lisa’s effects, but the storm quickly degraded back to Tropical Depression status. Lisa is now heading back into the Gulf of Mexico, but forecasters are not expecting her to restrengthen at this time…and residents of the Gulf States hope they’re right!

Meanwhile, out in the mid-Atlantic Ocean, Martin is barely hanging onto hurricane status with sustained winds around 75 MPH, but it is also expected to weaken by tomorrow. The system will still hang together and begin to move eastward towards the coast of Ireland by the weekend.

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For Wednesday, 2 November, 2022  

This was the 306th day of the year with 59 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.The Waxing Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces. 

There were numerous pre-midnight fireball sightings from Europe, the US and Canada on the night of November 1st. The two most widely reported events were for one over the Netherlands, Denmark and Germany at about 7:00PM their local time, the other came at about 8:16 PM EDT for a fireball seen across the northeastern portion of the US and into Ontario and Quebec, Canada. The American Meteor Society also logged several other fireball events reported by at least 5 observers last night.

We’re getting closer to the annual peak of the Taurid meteor shower on November 4th to 5th, and media buzz predicting a “swarm” is growing. There definitely seems to have been an uptick in fireball sightings recently, so if that’s any indication of things to come when the Taurids reach their peak, sky watchers should be in for a good show as the week goes on. The Moon will be setting around 1:00 AM Local Daylight Time on the early morning of November 3rd, and progressively later each of the following mornings, so the wee hours after midnight will provide the darkest skywatching opportunities.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 63, up 7 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Unsettled today with the Planetary K Index ranging around 4. A stream of solar wind is expected to reach Earth by November 5th and this could produce geomagnetic storm levels that may bring auroral activity farther south than has been seen in recent nights.

Tropical Storm turned Hurricane Lisa now has sustained winds of 80 MPH and is bringing heavy rain, strong winds, and life-threatening storm surge to Belize and the coastal areas of Guatemala and the Yucatan Peninsula. Lisa is expected to churn northward along the Mexican coastline through Friday. The storm will weaken by the time it turns back into the Gulf of Mexico, but what happens after that is subject to question.

Martin has also attained hurricane status with sustained winds of 85 MPH and it is developing into a very large system in the mid-Atlantic. Trans-oceanic shipping lanes will be vulnerable to Martin’s effects.

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For Tuesday, 1 November, 2022

This was the 305th day of the year with just 60 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The First Quarter Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius.

The Moon reached its First Quarter phase early today, which means that exactly half of the side facing Earth was illuminated by the Sun. Slightly more than half will be illuminated by evening and the planet Saturn will appear almost directly above and very close to the Moon. The pair should be visible from after sunset until around midnight, standing high in the southern sky about 8:00 PM Local Daylight Time. The Moon and Saturn will be in the constellation Capricornos, between Sagittarius to the right and Aquarius to the left. Jupiter will be shining brightly in Pisces, a few hours farther east. This should be another good night for binoculars and backyard telescopes.

The continuing series of early evening meteor sightings seems to have favored Europe on Halloween night. At 16:52 UT a fireball was seen by dozens of people in Italy, Germany and Austria, and two hours later another bright meteor was seen over the Netherlands. Note that these sightings happened around 6:00 and 8:00 PM respectively in the local time zones, according to reports logged by the American Meteor Society. An early morning fireball was reported from British Columbia in western Canada.

And remember, the Taurid meteor shower is nearing its annual peak on November 4th to 5th with some experts predicting a meteor “swarm” this year. The Taurids are already active and several other minor meteor showers are underway as well, so there could be several bright displays per hour for observers with clear dark skies.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 56, down 12 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been mostly Quiet with the Planetary K Index falling to 1 after a brief peak near 4 earlier this morning. There was a Coronal Mass Ejection on the far side of the Sun late last night, and while it won’t affect us for now, the active region that produced this CME will be rotating towards Earth in about a week.

Tropical Storm Lisa now has sustained winds of 65 MPH, just 9 MPH below hurricane status. The storm is expected to strengthen and will probably bring hurricane force winds to Belize, the Yucatan Peninsula, Honduras and Guatemala by Wednesday. Strong winds, localized flooding and dangerous storm surge along the coastal areas are likely.

Meanwhile, Tropical Storm Martin has developed in the mid-Atlantic Ocean and it is also expected to develop hurricane force winds as the week progresses. Fortunately Martin’s track is away from land but the storm is of definite concern to shipping interests in the Atlantic.

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For Monday, 31 October, 2022

This was the 304th spooky day of the year with 61 spooky days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waxing Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius.

Tomorrow the Moon will be at its First Quarter phase and the planet Saturn will appear almost directly above it. The pair will be visible from about 6:30 PM Local Daylight Time on November 1st until midnight, standing high in the southern sky around 8:00 PM. The past few months have provided some unusually good viewing times for the outer planets, and that trend continues with Saturn and the Moon being joined by Jupiter and Mars in the overnight sky all week. The latter two planets will be trailing a few hours behind, so they will appear farther to the east. This is a great time for viewing with a telescope, binoculars, or just using your eyes to study the sky.

It was a busy weekend for meteors with 74 people from Kentucky northward into Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota reporting a fireball event that occurred about an hour after Friday night’s Yourufoshow broadcast ended. About four hours later, over 100 people in California and Nevada witnessed another exceptionally bright meteor fall. On Saturday night about 20 people in the south eastern states from Alabama to Virginia reported another one. The American Meteor Society logged these, along with numerous other sightings having at least five reports from around the world over the past three nights.

As we mentioned last week, the Taurid meteor shower is nearing its annual peak on November 4th to 5th, and some experts are predicting a “swarm” of activity this year. The shower is already active so Halloween and the early November nights could bring some special treats for sky watchers. Several other minor meteor showers are also active during this time, so these along with the usual influx of sporadic meteors, should provide a few bright displays per hour for observers with clear dark skies.

And remember, it was during this same meteor season 84 years ago, on the night of October 30, 1938, that the sleepy little town of Grovers Mill, New Jersey was invaded by Martians on Orson Welles’ famous radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds”.

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 68, down 4 from Friday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet with the Planetary K index ranging around 3 today. On Saturday the K index reached 5 for a few hours, indicating minor geomagnetic storm conditions. No extreme solar activity is expected soon, but surprises do happen.

Near earth Object NEO 2022 UA21 passed by the Earth shortly after midnight UT this morning. It was estimated to be about 4 to 9 meters in diameter and came within 1.18 Lunar Distances to us, or just slightly farther than the average distance between us and the Moon. This object was first detected on Sunday, so it is one of the newest in a growing list of the so-called “Apollo Objects” that are known to have the potential for intersecting Earth’s orbit at some point in the future.

The low pressure area in the Caribbean Sea we mentioned last Friday has now been designated as Tropical Storm Lisa. Lisa currently has sustained winds around 45 MPH and will pass near Jamaica today before heading westward towards Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras by Wednesday.

Five weeks ago today the planet Jupiter was at the closest point it had come to our planet in almost 60 years. If you read our “Special Report” about the possibility of Jupiter’s close approach triggering earthquakes and solar flares you may remember that our analysis of the data from 1963 indicated that any increased seismic or solar activity would probably occur a few weeks before and a few weeks after the giant planet made its pass, rather than on the actual day of closest approach. So did our prediction come true? Stay tuned for the update coming soon…

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For Friday, 28 October, 2022

This was the 301st day of the year with 64 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waxing Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Saggitarius. Look for the crescent Moon above your western horizon tonight shortly before or after sunset.

Once again, the early evening time period has yielded the most widely reported fireball events. Last night about 70 people from Italy, France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands reported seeing a bright meteor at 1848 UT, or 8:48 PM their local time. In the southern US about 2 dozen reports came from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Tennessee for a fireball seen around 9:30 PM Central Daylight Time, and just ten minutes later another fireball was reported by observers across the northeastern US and Ontario (at about 8:40 EDT). The American Meteor Society also logged several other early evening fireball events from Europe, the US and Canada for bright meteors seen by at least five observers in the early to mid-evening hours last night.

This is speculation on our part, but it is possible that at least some of last night’s fireball sightings were related to the upcoming Taurid meteor shower that we mentioned on last night’s broadcast. Experts have been suggesting that a Taurid meteor “swarm” is possible with this shower in 2022, meaning that perhaps twice the usual number of Taurid meteors could appear. This shower peaks around November 5th but it is already active so sky watchers should be on the lookout for “falling stars” around Halloween – or anytime between nighttime and sunrise for the next week or so. And let us know if you catch one!

The Boulder Sunspot Number is 72, down 6 from yesterday. Despite the lack of active sunspots or solar flares the geomagnetic field has been Unsettled today due to an ongoing stream of charged particles coming from coronal holes in the sun’s exterior. The current Planetary K Index is about 4.5, approaching minor storm conditions. Residents of the far northern latitudes should be alert for Auroral activity during the next few nights.

A low pressure area in the Caribbean Sea off the northern coastline of Venezuela may develop into a Tropical Depression over the weekend. Heavy rainfall and gusty winds are predicted for the Virgin Islands, the Lesser Antilles and Puerto Rico. Conditions appear favorable for further development as the system moves west or northwestward next week.

On Thursday NASA reported an interesting discovery from Mars: On Christmas Eve 2021 seismic instruments on Mars registered an unusually strong quake – a Mars quake that is. The cause of the quake was suspected to be a large meteorite crashing into the planet and recent photographs from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have revealed the likely strike zone. It is a 500 foot wide crater near Mars’ equator, said to be about 10 times the size of typical impact craters on Mars. But the most

interesting thing is that the meteorite’s impact blasted large boulders of buried frozen water ice to the planet’s surface. This discovery bodes well for human exploration of Mars in the future.

The image below shows the new Martian Crater, nearly 500 feet (or 150 meters) across. The whitish deposits scattered around the crater are huge slabs of water ice that had been hiding below the planet’s surface. Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona.

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For Thursday, 27 October, 2022

This was the 300th day of the year with 65 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waxing Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Saggitarius. You might see a thin sliver of the Moon above the western horizon tonight and tomorrow evening when la Luna will be setting soon after the Sun goes down.

Early to mid-evenings seems to be the best time for observing meteor fireballs lately. At 6:34 PM EDT last night, more than 40 people across the northeastern corner of the US, from Pennsylvania into Vermont and New Hampshire, witnessed a bright fireball and reported their sighting to the American Meteor Society. An early morning fireball event was observed around 6:41 AM today by more than two dozen people in Michigan, Illinois and Ontario. (The observer in Canada was located very close to Harrietsville, by the way.)

The hours between midnight and dawn are generally the most active period for spotting meteor trails, and while the recent Orionid shower seems to have been rather disappointing, late night and early morning sky watchers might have better luck with the upcoming Taurid meteor shower. The Taurids are actually less numerous than the Orionids in most years, but experts suspect that this year could be different. They are forecasting a possible “swarm” that occurs every few years and produces about twice the usual number of meteors that appear to emanate from near the constellation Taurus. This shower peaks around November 5th, but it is active before and after that peak, and the moonless nights of the coming week could provide more favorable viewing conditions.

Otherwise, since the Earth seems to be taking a vacation from any major earthquakes, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions, asteroids, or eclipses today, we’d like to take a moment to mention something that happened a few weeks ago:

On October 9, 2022, scientists from around the world detected a Gamma Ray Burst that has been dubbed “The BOAT”, for “Brightest of All Time”. Gamma Ray Bursts are said to be the strongest explosions in the universe. They only last a matter of seconds but release as much energy in that brief time as our Sun will produce in 10 billion years. Theories about their origin involve supernova, black holes, and colliding neutron stars. The GRB detected on October 9th lasted hundreds of seconds and is thought to have been produced by a supernova some 2 billion light years away from Earth – which is fortunate for us, because if it had come from something really close to this planet you wouldn’t be listening to Yourufoshow right now!

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For Wednesday, 26 October, 2022

This was the 299th day of the year with 66 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waxing Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. You might be able to see an extremely thin sliver of the Moon just above the western horizon tonight or tomorrow night when the Moon will be setting very soon after the Sun.

Saturn is rising around 3:30 in the afternoon, Jupiter around 5:00 PM, and Mars around 9:00 PM Local Daylight Time, so all three of these planets will be visible in the late night sky. Saturn will be setting down and out of sight around 1:00 AM, Jupiter sets around 5:00 AM, and Mars will be visible until Sunrise.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 72, up 26 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet today with the Planetary K index hovering around 1. No major Solar activity is expected for the next few days, but that is always subject to change.

No widespread fireball sightings were reported last night, but the bright meteorite that was seen Monday evening across Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah was photographed by a number of observers and some interesting videos have been posted to the web.

No significant earthquakes have occurred today as of noon EDT today, and all is quiet as far as hurricane activity for the time being. No known Near Earth Objects are coming any closer than 2.2 Lunar Distances until Halloween.

The Bluewalker 3 satellite will be making a prominent pass over the US and Canada tomorrow morning from about 5:30 – 5:40 AM EDT. This visible pass will begin over parts of Louisiana and Alabama then move northeastward over the Great Lakes region and across the northeastern corner of the US and into Canada. Bluewalker is the satellite with the controversial 64 square foot antenna array, the first in a network of over a hundred even bigger satellites intended to provide broadband service from space directly to ordinary cell phones. These “Bluebirds” are expected to be extremely bright during their visible passes, but so far we have not heard any reports confirming this. The antenna array may not be fully deployed as of yet, although the company responsible for Bluewalker3, AST SpaceMobile, had announced that it would be by the end of October. If you live in tomorrow morning’s pass area please look up around 5:30 AM, and let us know what you see.

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For Tuesday, 25 October, 2022

This was the 298th day of the year with 67 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Moon reached its New Phase this morning at 1049 UT. It is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.

As mentioned in yesterday’s broadcast, this morning’s New Moon produced a partial eclipse of the Sun for observers across most of Europe, parts of Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Greenland this morning. We’d like to hear from any of our listeners who may have been able to view this eclipse from their location.

Residents of Australia and Indonesia should mark their calendars for April 20, 2023 when the next solar eclipse will be visible in those areas. Then on October 14, 2023 an Annular eclipse will be seen in parts of the western US, Central America and parts of South America. The next total eclipse of the sun will occur on April 8, 2024 across Mexico and parts of the US. We’ll have more details on these events as their dates approach.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 46, down 19 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions were Quiet today with the Planetary K index hovering around 1. Another round of charged particles billowing from a coronal hole in the Sun may impact the Earth’s ionosphere later this week, possibly leading to more Unsettled geomagnetic conditions. A large sunspot currently on the far side of the sun will be rotating to face the Earth by next week, and it is considered capable of producing significant flares.

The American Meteor Society has logged a fireball event that was reported by about 125 people in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah yesterday in the early evening, their local time. This appears to be the most widely reported fireball sighting in nearly two weeks.

Near Earth Object 2022 UV2 will pass within 1.5 Lunar Distances of the Earth tomorrow at about 1026 UT. Approximately 10 meters in diameter, or about the size of an RV, it is the latest in the pool of some 30,000 known asteroids that have decided to pay us a close call recently.

Two earthquakes greater than 6.0 have occurred within the past 24 hours: A 6.3 quake today at 0013 UT hit the South Sandwich Islands (between the tip of South America and Antarctica) and a 6.4 struck at 1459 UT in the Philippines. A 5.1 earthquake shook California earlier this morning, and a minor 2.6 quake was also registered not far from our home location in Virginia, an area that is not prone to frequent quakes.

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For Monday, 24 October, 2022

This was the 297th day of the year with 68 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio. The Waning Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra.

If you were up about an hour before dawn this morning you might have noticed a very thin crescent moon rising low in the east and hovering directly above a small bright star. Well, that ‘star’ was actually the planet Mercury. Mercury has been visible before sunrise for the past several weeks but it is moving closer towards the Sun from our perspective on Earth, and will soon be hidden by the daylight’s glare once again.

On Tuesday the 25th the Moon will reach its New Phase, which means that it will be positioned directly between the Earth and the Sun. The Moon is virtually invisible during this phase since it isn’t reflecting any sunlight towards us, but you might be able to see the Moon again soon after it passes from New to Waxing Gibbous phase because of sunlight being reflected by the Earth to the Moon and then back down at us again. This phenomenon is called ‘Earthshine’.

When the alignment of the Earth, Moon and Sun during a New Moon is just right, there will be a solar eclipse viewable from the area where the Moon’s shadow happens to land. Tomorrow the ‘sweet spot’ of the New Moon’s shadow will be cast somewhere out beyond the North Pole, so there won’t be a Total Eclipse for anyone on Earth to see, but there will be a partial eclipse viewable to observers across most of Europe, parts of Northern Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, and along the eastern coast of Greenland. The timing of the eclipse, and just how much of the Sun will be obscured by the Moon depends on the exact location, but the area that will witness the maximum amount of solar blockage – over 80% — will be in eastern Russia at around 1100 UT.

The American Meteor Society has logged a fireball event that was reported by nearly 70 people in England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands last night at 1932 UT. Another fireball event was reported late Friday night (or around 0130 Saturday morning UT) by about two dozen observers in Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada. The timing of these fireballs suggests that they were probably not remnants from the Orionid meteor shower, and we would still like to hear from any listeners that might have seen any Orionids last week.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 65, up 32 from Friday. Although there have not been any significant solar flares in the past few days, a stream of solar wind particles still blew into our ionosphere and created minor geomagnetic storm conditions for most of the day on Saturday. Geomagnetic conditions were still Unsettled on Sunday, but today the Planetary K index has dropped below 1.

Tropical Storm Roslyn intensified into a category 4 hurricane before making landfall in Mexico as a category 3 storm with winds around 120 MPH. Although the area most affected by the rain and wind was sparsely populated, at least two deaths have been attributed to Roslyn’s impact.

Roslyn has dissipated now, but a new system in the Atlantic is likely to develop into a tropical storm overnight, bringing heavy rain and gusty winds to Bermuda. Further expansion of that storm is not expected, but forecasters are warning about another potentially more threatening system developing near Puerto Rico over the course of the coming week.

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For Friday, 21 October, 2022

This was the 294th day of the year with 71 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Virgo.

(We must add a correction notice here: It seems we reported incorrect astro-logical signs for the Moon for the past 3 days. The correct Moon signs were: Tuesday=Cancer, Wednesday and Thursday = Leo. Our thanks to UFO Joe’s Little ET Buddy for spotting this mistake, and we apologize for any inconvenience.)

As of early Friday morning, about six hours before the predicted peak of the Orionid meteor shower, it seems the much anticipated meteor shower has been rather disappointing. We personally did not see any meteors during several good viewing opportunities between midnight and dawn, and we have yet to see any reports or photos from other sky watchers. The American Meteor Society has not reported any widespread fireball sightings that would likely be attributed to the Orionid meteors either. Has this shower stopped running – or will the peak hours occur later than predicted? Perhaps the best time to watch will be after midnight tonight? We would be happy to hear about any meteors seen (or not seen) by our listeners.

On the other hand, the early morning hours between midnight and 6:00 AM did provide some excellent views of the constellations Orion, Taurus, Gemini and the Pleiades star cluster. Jupiter looked like a big ball of golden light even without binoculars or a telescope. Saturn and Mars were also on full display, as well as the crescent Moon hovering low in the east, so if you’re up late over the weekend and the sky is clear be sure to enjoy the view – with or without meteors.

Sunspots are almost as scarce as meteors today. The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 33, down 17 from yesterday. This is the lowest Sunspot Number we’ve seen in quite a while. Two weeks ago the official count was over 150. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet, with the Planetary K index ranging around 1. Despite the lack of any major solar flares, however, a large coronal hole in the Sun’s southern hemisphere has started dumping huge amounts of solar plasma in our direction, so geomagnetic activity may increase by early next week.

There is an interesting follow up to the story about Lucy, the spacecraft that did a “slingshot maneuver” around Earth last Sunday on its way to explore Jupiter’s “Trojan Asteroids”. Astronomers detected what they first thought was another asteroid coming towards Earth slightly ahead of Lucy, but further analysis showed it was actually the booster rocket that had launched Lucy into space on the same date a year ago. The two had been traveling together all this time, but Sunday’s pass by Earth gave each object a different gravitational twist and they went their separate ways.

The International Space Station will be making two especially bright passes over the Great Lakes region and nearby states, as well as Harrietsville, Ontario, Canada on Saturday and Sunday morning.

The Saturday pass will begin at about 7:00 AM, the Sunday pass shortly after 6:15 AM EDT. The ISS will be seen moving from the south-west to the north-east on both passes.

Tropical Storm Roslyn has intensified today with sustained winds now around 70 MPH, getting close to Hurricane Status. The storm is forecast to become a hurricane by the time it makes landfall in west central Mexico late on Saturday. Strong winds, heavy rain, dangerous storm surge and landslides are possible with Roslyn. This system looks likely to move further inland than the recent storms that took similar paths, although it will weaken once it moves over land.

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For Thursday, 20 October, 2022

This was the 293rd day of the year with 72 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.

Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are all still visible in the overnight hours. Saturn is rising above the horizon in midafternoon and setting a few hours after midnight Local Daylight Time. Mars will be rising around 9:30PM, and Jupiter about 4 hours earlier, so the best time for viewing all three planets in the sky at once is between about 11:00 PM and 1:00 AM LDT. During that time Jupiter will be shining very high and bright in the southern sky, roughly midway between red Mars to the east and yellowish Saturn to the west.

Mercury is rising around 6:30 AM now. It is moving closer towards the Sun and will soon be hidden by daylight in the mornings. Meanwhile, Venus will be positioned directly behind the Sun on October 22nd, making what is called its “superior solar conjunction”. Venus will gradually emerge from behind the Sun’s glare and we should be able to see it again by the end of the year.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 50, the same as yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet, although the Planetary K index has been slightly higher than yesterday, ranging from about 1 to 3. But once again, any Auroral activity will be limited to the extreme northern latitudes.

The Orionid meteor shower is predicted to peak around 1800 UT on Friday October 21st. Note that this will be during the daytime for those of us in North America, so parts of Europe may be favored to catch the most active period of the display. But the peak time prediction is just an estimate, and there should be plenty of meteors in the hours before and after the peak. Observers with clear dark skies could see 10-15 meteors per hour. Orionid meteors can appear almost anywhere in the sky, but their trails can always be traced back towards the constellation Orion, which will be prominent in the southern sky between midnight and dawn.

And remember, the tiny particles of space dust blazing through Earth’s atmosphere in the Orionid Meteor shower were left behind by Halley’s Comet. Halley’s Comet is the only comet that comes within naked-eye view of the Earth twice within the span of a human lifetime, and humans have reported seeing it since ancient times. British astronomer Edmund Halley did not ‘discover’ the comet named after him, but he made the first ever calculation of a comet’s periodicity which proved that many historical comet sightings were actually related to the same comet passing through our Solar System repeatedly. It comes within view of the Earth about every 76 years, but right now Halley’s Comet is nearly as far away from our planet as it ever gets, out near the orbit of Pluto. So even though the comet itself isn’t visible, we can see bits and pieces of it in the sky during the next few nights.

Also on October 21st, two Near Earth Objects will be coming within less than 2 Lunar Distances from the Earth. NEO 2022 UG2 will come within 1.6 LD at 0932 UT, and NEO 2022 UC1 comes even closer at

1.4LD around 2246 UT tomorrow. Each of these objects is estimated to be somewhere in the range of about 20 meters in diameter. So they’re much bigger than the dust particles from Halley’s Comet, but fortunately these house-sized NEO’s are not expected to fall into our atmosphere.

The Tropical Disturbance off the southwestern coast of Mexico that we’ve been watching for the past several days has been given a name: Roslynn. Roslyn currently has sustained winds around 45 MPH but the storm is expected to reach hurricane status (which means a minimum wind speed of 74 MPH) within the next few days. Roslyn will likely bring high winds, heavy rain, flash flooding, mudslides and storm surge to the same region of Mexico that has been plagued with tropical storms and strong earthquakes for the past month.

And speaking of strong earthquakes, Central America experienced its third quake greater than 6.0 in less than a week with a 6.7 occurring in Panama today at 0757 UT.

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For Wednesday, 19 October, 2022

This was the 292nd day of the year with 73 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Leo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra, moving into Scorpio.

The Moon will be rising after 1:00 AM Local Daylight Time. The bright star that will appear very close to the moon early Thursday morning is Regulas, the brightest star in the constellation Leo. Although Regulas looks like a single star to our eyes, it is actually a system of at least 4 separate stars swirling together at a distance of about 79 light years from Earth.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 50, down 34 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet with no significant solar flares since very early Saturday morning. The Planetary K index has ranged from around 1 to near 0 today, so any auroral activity will be limited to the most extreme northern latitudes.

The Orionid meteor shower is expected to peak around 1800 UT on Friday October 21st, but you might be able to see some activity from this shower already. The dust particles that produce the Orionid meteor display are actually remnants from Halley’s Comet that have become gravitationally locked in the region of space that Earth’s orbit crosses through at this time every year. Look toward the southern sky between midnight and dawn for your best chance to see some bright meteor trails.

Coincidentally, today happens to be the fifth anniversary of the discovery of a mysterious space object called ‘Oumuamua. ‘Oumuamua was discovered using the Pan-STARRS telescope at Haleakalā Observatory, Hawaii, on 19 October 2017. It was the first interstellar object ever detected passing through our solar system, and the Hawaiian name it was given is loosely translated as “scout” or “first distant messenger”. The small odd-shaped object sparked a great deal of interest and speculation among professional astronomers, and there are still many unanswered questions about it. Even the controversial theory that it was a probe sent from some distant alien world has not been entirely ruled out.

The International Space Station will be making a particularly bright pass over the southwestern US shortly after 6:35 AM MDT tomorrow morning. It should be viewable moving from southwest to the northeast over parts of southern California, Arizona (including Snowflake) and Colorado. Early morning observers should watch for a very bright object moving steadily in a continuous arc across the sky with no blinking lights.

The disturbance off the southwestern coast of Mexico in the eastern Pacific shows signs of strengthening, and forecasters expect it to develop into a Tropical Depression within the next 24 hours. The system has been moving north-westward, roughly parallel to the coastline of Mexico.

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For Tuesday, 18 October, 2022

This was the 291st day of the year with 74 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Last Quarter Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Cancer and the astro-Logical sign of Libra.

The Waning Crescent Moon was at its Last Quarter phase yesterday and will be rising after midnight Local Daylight Time. Saturn, Jupiter and Mars are still visible in the evening sky this week. The hours between 11:00PM and 1:00 AM Local Daylight Time will be best for seeing all three planets spanning the sky from east to west. Mercury can be seen in the last hour or so before sunrise, but it will soon be obscured by the sun and not be seen again for several months.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 84, up 25 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet with no significant solar flares since very early Saturday morning. The Planetary K index has hovered around 1 today, so only those in extreme northern latitudes should expect to see any Auroral activity tonight.

The American Meteor Society received numerous reports of multiple fireball sightings from around the world on Monday night. The most widely seen event seems to have come at 0209 UT. This meteorite was reported by over 40 witnesses in California and Nevada.

The epsilon-Geminid meteor shower peaked earlier today, but a few stragglers from this cluster of meteoric debris might still be seen streaking through Earth’s atmosphere after midnight tonight. Meanwhile, the Orionid shower is gradually building towards its peak on the 21st. These two active showers, along with some occasional sporadic meteors, should produce a few bright meteor trails each hour for observers in clear dark skies.

The Chinese space station Tiangong will be making a particularly bright pass over the western US shortly after 8:00 PM MDT tonight. It will be viewable moving from west-northwest to the southeast above parts of California, Nevada, Arizona and Texas. China will soon be launching additional modules for Tiangong that will render it even brighter during its visible passes.

A new disturbance off the west coast of Mexico in the eastern Pacific bears watching in the upcoming week. National Hurricane Center forecasters are predicting a 90% chance of formation within the next 5 days. Its future path may steer it clear from any populated areas, but its too early to be sure.

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For Monday, 17 October, 2022

This was the 290th day of the year with 75 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Last Quarter Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Gemini and the astro-Logical sign of Cancer, moving into Libra.

The Moon was at its Last Quarter phase today and will be rising after 10:00 PM Local Daylight Time. Saturn, Jupiter and Mars will continue their joint appearance in the evening sky this week. The hours between 11:00PM and 1:00 AM Local Daylight Time will be best for seeing all three planets spanning the sky from east to west, just as the Moon is beginning to rise. Mercury is still visible in the last hour or so before sunrise, but it will soon be hidden by the sun again.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 59, up 2 from Friday. Geomagnetic conditions have been mostly Quiet over the weekend, but just after midnight UT on Saturday (which was just after this broadcast ended on Friday night EDT) the Planetary K index spiked to 5 and a brief period of geomagnetic storm conditions ensued.

The American Meteor Society ultimately logged over 275 reports for the exploding meteorite seen across western Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia on Wednesday night last week. Now another 43 reports have been received of a fireball that was seen in the same general area this past Saturday night, around 8:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

The epsilon-Geminid meteor shower is expected to peak on October 18th. The best time for viewing these meteors is after midnight and just before dawn local time. Epsilon-Geminid meteors will appear to radiate from the constellation Gemini low in the southeastern sky after midnight, and higher in the south by early morning hours. Although this one is not a major meteor shower, you might also see some early arrivals from the upcoming Orionid shower, as well as some occasional sporadic meteors, so it should be worth keeping an eye open late Monday and Tuesday nights.

Spacecraft Lucy made its first slingshot loop around the Earth successfully on Sunday, and is now zooming out towards Mars before getting its next gravitational boost from a near Earth pass in 2024, and then going on to fulfill its historic mission to survey Jupiter’s Trojan Asteroids.

So far, Jupiter’s close approach to our planet on September 26th does not seem to have produced any unusual seismic activity. Earthquake activity did seem to ramp up in the few weeks before the close approach, but if anything, overall activity has gone into a lull since the end of September. Two fairly strong earthquakes off the west coast of Central America were recorded on Sunday the 16th though, at about 1248 UT. Although they registered as two separate quakes they had virtually the same epicenter and occurred just 3 seconds apart – the first was Magnitude 6.3, the second was 6.7.

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For Friday, 14 October, 2022

This was the 287th day of the year with 78 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini, moving into Cancer.

The Moon will be rising around 9:30 PM Local Daylight Time, and tonight it can be seen very close to the red planet Mars. The past few weeks have been outstanding times for observing the planets, with Mercury making its short run of visibility in the morning sky, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have all been easily visible in the overnight hours, and even Uranus and Neptune have been well-positioned for spotting with binoculars or a telescope. So what about Venus? Well, it’s currently hovering too close to the Sun for us to see it, but after the Winter Solstice it will emerge and reclaim its title as brightest planet in the sky.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 57, down 5 from yesterday. Note that last Friday the Sunspot number was 139! Once again, solar regions that had been extremely active simply settled down as soon as they rotated into our direct line of sight. Now these underachieving sunspots are moving out of our view. We did see four lower level M class flares earlier in the week, and there was another M1 flare at 0944 UT today, so their combined after-effects may reach Earth over the next few days. Beginning around midnight UT, and continuing throughout most of the day today, charged solar particles have created Unsettled conditions in Earth’s magnetic field. The Planetary K Index has been holding around 4. Observers in far northern latitudes should be alert for bright Auroras.

In yesterday’s broadcast we mentioned the American Meteor Society had logged nearly 150 reports about a fireball seen across western Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia on Wednesday night. Now the number of reports to the AMS about that event has increased to 239, and many videos of the exploding meteorite that were captured by dash cams and doorbell cameras, etc. have been posted on the internet.

Saturday night, about an hour before midnight Universal Time (or 7:00 PM EDT) Near Earth Object 2020 TO2 will zoom past the Earth at a distance of 1.4 LD, or just a little farther away from us than the Moon. Estimated to be about 14-31 meters in diameter (about the size of a house) this NEO has inspired a lot of sensationalized media warnings – but as space experts say, “A miss is as good as 1.609 kilometers.”

Another object will be passing by us at a much closer and potentially more hazardous distance on Sunday October 16th. This object is a NASA spacecraft named “Lucy.” Lucy’s primary mission is to explore two groups of asteroids associated with Jupiter. Called “Trojan Asteroids,” one group circles ahead of Jupiter in its orbit, the other group follows behind the giant planet. Lucy was launched on the exact same date one year ago, and all this time it has been gearing up for a “slingshot” maneuver

around the Earth in order to get the gravitational boost needed to propel it faster and farther out in the Solar System.

Sunday’s flyby will bring it within 220 miles of our planet and well within the orbital range of most of our satellites and other space debris. NASA engineers will be watching very closely in case last minute corrections are necessary to avoid a collision. From about 1055 – 1102 UT on October 16, observers in Western Australia should be able to see Lucy shining in the sky as bright as a 1st magnitude star. The spacecraft will continue over the Pacific and reappear above the western US where it will be much dimmer, but possibly within view of well-equipped amateur astronomers.

This pass is actually just the first of three gravitational boost maneuvers that will send Lucy around the Earth. The next one comes in 2024 and the third in 2031. If all goes well, the spacecraft should make its way to the second and final group of Trojan asteroids (the ones that are following behind Jupiter in its orbit) by the year 2033 – so be sure to check back with us then for updates!

In the graphic below (courtesy nasa.gov) the green line shows the looping path that spacecraft Lucy will take on its mission to study Jupiter’s “Trojan Asteroids”. The orbits of Earth and Jupiter are shown as orange circles.

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For Thursday, 13 October, 2022

This was the 286th day of the year with 79 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Taurus and the astro-Logical sign of Gemini.

The Moon will be rising around 9:00PM Local Daylight Time tonight, and it is edging closer to Mars which will rise about an hour later. Late night sky watchers will have another opportunity to see the Moon, Mars, and the Pleiades star cluster in a nice tight grouping, with Taurus the Bull and Orion the Hunter close by as well. But if you can’t stay up to watch the late night show, try looking to the west-southwest in the early morning hours before the sun comes up.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 62, down 10 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet today. The Planetary K Index has ranged around 1. There was an M1 level solar flare at 0019 UT, about 20 minutes after last night’s show ended, so there is a chance that our geomagnetic field will be affected by it and other recent flares in the next few days. On the whole, however, recent solar activity has not produced the level of impact to our planet that was anticipated.

The Orionids meteor shower is becoming more active in advance of its peak next week. This activity, plus other ongoing minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies.

The hours after midnight are usually best for viewing meteors, but we’ve been suggesting that since the Moon is still very bright in the late night hours, earlier in the evening might be the best time this week to “catch a falling star”. Well, the American Meteor Society received nearly 150 reports of a fireball sighted across the western parts of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia last night, shortly after 10:00 PM, their local time.

Tropical Storm Karl has weakened since yesterday, in terms of wind speed at least. Sustained winds are now around 45 MPH vs. 60 MPH yesterday, but the storm is continuing its march toward the southern coastal areas of Mexico. Heavy rainfall, flash flooding and mudslides are predicted in the region for Friday. Another disturbance that we’ve been watching on the opposite coast of Mexico has dissipated, and no tropical activity is expected for the eastern Pacific during the next two days.

This past September 10th a company called “AST Space Mobile” launched its Bluewalker 3 satellite into Low Earth Orbit. Bluewalker 3 is the first in a planned network of more than 100 similar satellites called “BlueBirds” that promise to deliver 4G broadband connectivity directly to ordinary cell phones on the ground. This is different from Elon Musk’s Starlink system that requires a special dish antenna and receiver at each subscriber’s location. Both the Starlink and BlueBird satellite systems have raised criticism from astronomers because the vast numbers of satellites they’re sending into the sky can interfere with the sensitive long-exposure photography used by ground-based telescopes for making deep space observations.

There won’t be as many Bluebirds as there are Starlink satellites, but Bluewalker 3 and its follow-ups will be in another league when it comes to sheer size. Bluewalker 3’s antenna array measures 64 square meters, or almost 690 square feet. When its antenna array is fully deployed there will be times when it will reflect enough sunlight to be seen from Earth as the brightest object in the night sky – and the hundred or more Bluebirds to come will be twice as big!

AST Space Mobile has announced they plan to unfurl Bluewalker 3’s antenna array in the second half of October, and when they do, the night sky may never be the same.

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For Wednesday, 12 October, 2022

This was the 285th day of the year with 80 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Aries and the astro-Logical sign of Taurus, moving into Gemini.

The Moon will be rising around 8:00PM Local Daylight Time, and Mars will rise about two hours later, so late night sky watchers can catch a nice view of the Moon hovering about halfway between the Pleiades star cluster and the planet Mars. The reddish colored star closer to the Moon is Aldeberan. It is the eye of “The Bull” in the constellation Taurus. (Note: Aldeberan should not be confused with the fictional planet Alderaan, the home planet of Princess Leia that was destroyed by The Death Star in the original Star Wars movie.)

Jupiter and Saturn will also be visible to the eye in tonight’s sky, each rising earlier and appearing higher in the sky and west of the Moon.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 72, down 62 from yesterday. That big drop is due to several active regions rotating away from Earth view. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet today. The Planetary K Index has ranged around 1. No Major flares have been observed since yesterday, but there is still a chance that effects of the flares that occurred over the past two days could impact our geomagnetic field by tomorrow.

The Orionids meteor shower is becoming more active in advance of its peak next week. This activity, plus other ongoing minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies.

The hours after midnight are usually the best for seeing meteors, but in last night’s report we suggested that since the Moon is still very bright in the overnight hours, earlier in the evenings between Sunset and Moonrise might be the best time to watch for “shooting stars” this week – and once again, the American Meteor Society logged a number of fireball reports from around the world for sightings that occurred before midnight in each area’s local time zone.

Today NASA announced a new projected launch date for the Artemis 1 moon rocket. The launch was delayed twice because of fuel leak issues, and then a third time because of Hurricane Ian’s imminent approach. If the fourth time is the charm, Artemis 1 will lift off for the Moon on Monday November 14, sending an uncrewed spacecraft around the Moon and back with splashdown in the Pacific Ocean on December 9th.

The Chinese Space Station Tiangong will be making visible passes over much of the US tomorrow evening. Observers in the southeastern states can see it moving from the southwest to northeast after 7:10 PM EDT, and the western states may see the next flyover moving west to east from about 8:20 to 8:30 MDT.

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For Tuesday, 11 October, 2022

This was the 284th day of the year with 81 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Aries and the astro-Logical sign of Taurus.

In the wee hours of the morning on Wednesday October 12, the planet Uranus will be positioned within 1° of the Moon. In fact, for observers in some western parts of the US and Canada, the Moon will actually move in front of and “occult” Uranus at about 2:00AM MDT. You will need good binoculars or a telescope to see the seventh planet from the Sun, but look just below the Moon at about the “5 o’clock” position if you’d like to try and get a rare view of Uranus, “The Ice Giant”.

And while you’re observing the pre-dawn sky, be sure to look for two of the most easily recognizable star patterns up there, namely the constellation Orion, and the Pleiades star cluster, aka “The Seven Sisters”. These formations will become prominent earlier in the night as the year progresses.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 134, up 20 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Unsettled over the weekend. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 3 to 1. The third M class solar flare in two days occurred around 1052 UT. Geomagnetic effects from these flares could be observed over the next few days, possibly sparking bright Auroral displays in the northern latitudes.

The Draconid meteor shower recently peaked and now a more significant shower known as “The Orionids” is becoming more active. These two, plus the usual influx of sporadic meteors, should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. Since the Moon is still very bright in the overnight hours, early evenings between Sunset and Moonrise might be the best time to watch for meteors and fireballs this week.

Indeed, the American Meteor Society received over 100 reports of fireball sightings for the early evening of October 10th. There were two widely seen events — the first was at 2251 UT with about 30 reports coming from the UK, France, and Ireland. Another fireball was reported by nearly 60 people in Georgia and Florida at 9:39 PM EDT (or 0137 UT October 11.)

And just when we thought we were getting a break from hurricanes, Tropical Storm Karl has appeared almost out of nowhere, bringing heavy rainfall and 40 MPH winds to the southeastern coast of Mexico and surrounding coastal areas. Tropical Storm conditions may develop further inland for Mexico by Thursday. Another disturbance on the other side of Mexico in the eastern Pacific is likely to bring heavy rains and wind gusts along the western coastline, but further intensification for that storm is not expected at this time.

This afternoon NASA held a press briefing to discuss the results of the DART experiment. Two weeks ago a small spacecraft was deliberately crashed into an asteroid named Dimorphos, which was the smaller of a double asteroid system about 7 million miles from Earth. The mission went perfectly in all

regards, and the science team reported that their ultimate goal of redirecting the asteroid’s orbital path was surprisingly successful. Follow up observations have confirmed that the orbital period of Dimorphos was changed by 32 minutes, which was near the high end of the range that had been predicted by theoretical models. In fact, team members said they would have considered a change of just 73 seconds a success. This event marks the first time that humans have ever altered the course of a space object and it supports the possibility that potentially dangerous asteroids can be pushed aside before they impact the Earth. NASA scientists emphasized that the key to making this succeed will be to identify and attack any Earth-directed asteroids years in advance.

A surprising after effect from the DART mission is that the asteroid Dimorphos is now being followed by a 10,000 km long “tail” of debris that was knocked off the surface of the asteroid – of course at least some of the debris seen in the photo below is probably bits and pieces of the DART spacecraft itself! Quoting from NASA:

This imagery from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope from Oct. 8, 2022, shows the debris blasted from the surface of Dimorphos 285 hours after the asteroid was intentionally impacted by NASA’s DART spacecraft on Sept. 26. The shape of that tail has changed over time. Scientists are continuing to study this material and how it moves in space, in order to better understand the asteroid.

Credits: NASA/ESA/STScI/Hubble

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For Monday, 10 October, 2022

This was the 283rd day of the year with 82 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Pisces and the astro-Logical sign of Aries, moving into Taurus.

The Full Hunter’s Moon came on Sunday the 9th. The Moon is still very bright, but it will be rising soon after sunset and then progressively later each night this week, allowing for some good views of the early evening sky. Tomorrow morning look west to catch the nearly full Moon hovering low on the horizon when the Sun is rising in the east.

On Saturday, October 8th , Mercury was at its “greatest western elongation,” and the usually invisible planet can be seen low in the east about an hour before local sunrise over the next few weeks. Saturn and Jupiter will rise early in the evenings, while Mars begins to appear after 10:00 PM Local Time.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 114, down 25 from Friday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Unsettled over the weekend. The Planetary K Index has ranged around 3. An M1 Class solar flare on Friday was followed by another one today at 0047 UT and a level M2 flare at 1628 UT. Geomagnetic effects from these flares could be observed over the next few days, possibly sparking bright Auroral displays in the northern latitudes. The Draconid meteor shower peaked on the night of October 8, but a few remnants from it and other ongoing minor showers, plus the usual influx of sporadic meteors, should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. Tonight between Sunset and Moonrise should be a particularly good time to watch the sky.

The American Meteor Society has logged over 100 reports of fireball sightings for the night of October 9th, with at least 84 reports from an event that occurred just after 8:00PM EDT. This fireball was witnessed by people across the northeastern corner of the US and also near Ottawa, Canada.

On Tuesday, October 11, at 2:00PM EDT, NASA is scheduled to hold a press briefing to discuss their early findings from the DART Mission. Two weeks ago today the DART spacecraft was deliberately crashed into a tiny asteroid called Dimorphos as an experiment to determine whether such a method could be used to alter the course of any asteroids that might be heading towards an impact with the Earth. The briefing will be televised on NASA’s various media platforms.

The Chinese space station “Tiangong” will make a pass that will be visible across much of the southwestern US shortly after 7:00 PM MDT tomorrow evening, October 11.

Tropical Storm Julia strengthened into a category 1 hurricane before it plowed across Nicaragua over the weekend. The storm brought high winds, heavy rainfall, storm surge, and localized mudslides. Extensive damage and at least 5 deaths have been attributed to Julia so far. The storm has weakened

now, but the remnants will continue to deliver heavy rainfall along the western coast line of Central America into Tuesday.

A 6.2 Magnitude earthquake was detected at 1238 UT on October 9th on the central Mid-Atlantic Ridge. This is a fault line that runs through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and more-or-less follows the curvatures of the coastlines between North and South America to the west, and Europe and Africa to the East. This quake was centered about half-way between South America and Africa, and it was the first earthquake greater than magnitude 6 that has been recorded in almost two weeks.

Note that it was two weeks ago today that the planet Jupiter had reached its closest distance to the earth since 1963, and we posted a special report concerning the possibility of increased earthquake activity due to Jupiter’s gravitational pull on our planet. After reviewing the historical data on earthquakes from 1963, we speculated that if there had been an increase in seismic activity due to Jupiter’s position back then, it seemed to occur in the few weeks prior to and a few weeks after the giant planet’s close approach, rather than right at the time of the closest approach. We’ll be keeping an eye out for any uptick in seismic activity over the next few weeks, and we’ll post an update to our special report based on those observations. (The Special Report called, “Will Jupiter Make the Earth Quake?” can be found online at Yourufoshow.com)

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For Friday, 07 October, 2022

This was the 280th day of the year with 85 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces.

The Moon will be Full on Sunday the 9th. This one is traditionally known as the “Full Hunter’s Moon”.

On Saturday, October 8th , Mercury will be at its “greatest western elongation,” which simply means that, from our perspective on Earth, the tiny planet appears to be at a point of greatest separation from the Sun. Most of the time it is impossible for us to see Mercury because, since its orbit is so close to the Sun, it is usually obscured in daylight. But for the next few weeks Mercury will be brightly visible low in the east about an hour before local sunrise.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 139, down 12 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet to Unsettled. The Planetary K Index has ranged around 3. There was an M1 Class solar flare today that lasted for over three hours. Geomagnetic effects from this flare could impact our planet by the end of the weekend, possibly sparking bright Auroral displays in the northern latitudes. The Draconid meteor shower is expected to peak on the night of October 8. This and other ongoing minor showers, along with the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies — however, the approaching Full Moon will obscure all but the brightest ones. Stay tuned though, we expect to be reporting on a big uptick in meteor activity soon.

The tropical disturbance that we’ve been following all this week has graduated from being called “Potential Tropical Cyclone 13” to “Tropical Storm Julia”. Julia is forecast to strengthen further to hurricane status by late Saturday as she churns over the southwestern Caribbean Sea and towards Central America. Hurricane force winds, heavy rainfall, dangerous storm surge, and mudslides are expected in Nicaragua and neighboring areas this weekend.

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For Thursday, 06 October, 2022

This was the 279th day of the year with 86 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Aquarius and the astro-Logical sign of Pisces.

The Moon will rise about an hour before sunset tonight. It is growing bigger and brighter as it approaches Full Moon status, and could make a striking sight low above the eastern horizon in twilight for the next several nights. Mercury is also becoming brighter and more visible on the eastern horizon, but it is rising just before dawn in the early mornings.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 151, down 2 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet to Unsettled. The Planetary K Index has ranged around 3. They say a watched pot never boils, and something similar must apply to the sun because all of the sunspots that have been flaring almost continuously for the past several weeks seem to settle down when they turn to face the Earth. No major Meteor Showers are peaking at this time, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies.

The American Meteor Society logged over 150 reports of fireball sightings since last night. At least 86 fireball reports came in from Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland for a fireball that was seen at 1737 UT on October 5. About a dozen reports came from the US states of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and New York for a fireball seen at 0250 UT October 6, and there were nearly 60 more sightings from across the south central US states for a fireball at 1053 UT October 6. Regular listeners may remember that yesterday we announced Near Earth Object 2022 TD would be passing by Earth at slightly less than 1 Lunar Distance around 0353 UT on October 6, curiously close to the middle of the time frame of these widespread fireball sightings!

NASA’s SpaceX Crew Dragon mission docked with the International Space Station at 2101 UT today. Mission Commander Nicole Mann is the first Native American woman in space. The ISS will be making a pass visible across most of the eastern US tomorrow night, shortly after 7PM EDT October 7.

The tropical disturbance that’s been following the early path of Ian finally has a number – it is now officially “Potential Tropical Cyclone 13”. A tropical storm warning has been issued for portions of

Colombia. Venezuela and nearby islands could also see tropical force winds and heavy rain by Friday. The storm is expected to continue westward across Central America into early next week, with heavy rains, flooding and landslides possible.

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For Wednesday, 05 October, 2022

This was the 278th day of the year with 87 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn and the astro-Logical sign of Aquarius.

Saturn will appear close above and to the right of the Moon tonight so the pair should make a good target for binoculars or a small telescope. The Waxing Moon is becoming more prominent and interfering with our view of other night sky objects, but tiny Mercury is becoming more and more visible just before dawn in the early mornings. Mercury is usually difficult or impossible to see because it stays so close to the Sun, but you should be able to spot it low on a clear eastern horizon about an hour before the Sun comes up over the next several days.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 153, up 9 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet so far today. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 2 to 3. Although one of the biggest and most active sunspot groups seen in many years has rotated towards our planet, it has not released any Earth-directed flares as of 2 PM EDT today. Solar forecasters are still predicting a 65% chance of M Class flares and a 30% chance of an X Class flare however. No major Meteor Showers are peaking at this time, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies.

At 0353 UT on October 6th – which is just before midnight tonight EDT– Near Earth Object 2022 TD will pass by the Earth within .969 LD, or slightly closer to us than the Moon itself! This object is an estimated 10 meters (or about 30’) in diameter with a velocity of 10 km/second (over 6 miles per second) but it poses no immediate threat to the Earth.

The SpaceX Crew-5 mission launched successfully from Kennedy Space Center around noon EDT today. The capsule is scheduled to dock with the International Space Station tomorrow.

A tropical disturbance that’s been meandering westward along the coast of South America has not shown much sign of strengthening, but forecasters say that could change when the system reaches the central Caribbean Sea. Another Tropical Depression farther out in the Atlantic will also bear watching in the week ahead.

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For Tuesday, 04 October, 2022

This was the 277th day of the year with 88 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Gibbous Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Capricorn and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn, moving into Aquarius.

Saturn will appear close to the Moon on October 4th and 5th. Brighter than most stars, Saturn shines with a distinctly golden hue. It can be seen to the left of the Moon tonight, and to the right of the Moon tomorrow night. Even a small telescope should provide a nice view of Saturn’s famous rings. Jupiter and Mars are also still visible in the evenings, but the Waxing Moon will begin to dominate the night sky in the coming week.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 144, up 42 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Unsettled today. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 2 to 4. Minor geomagnetic storms are possible today and tomorrow, thanks to multiple Solar Flares that have occurred over the past several days. Residents in latitudes above 50 ° should be alert for bright Auroras. No major Meteor Showers are peaking at this time, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies.

In the Atlantic, the tropical disturbance mentioned in yesterday’s report as following the trail of Ian’s early movements above the coast of South America has continued heading towards the Windward Islands and Caribbean Sea. Forecasters are beginning to see potential for further development over the next 5 days.

Debris from several SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets is expected to reenter Earth’s atmosphere at various times throughout the day tomorrow, October 5. The exact point of reentry is impossible to predict but the tracks of the final orbits will cover parts of the US and Canada, as well as Europe and Africa, so unusual fiery lights in the sky could be seen by observers in many parts of the world.

Meanwhile, another Falcon 9 rocket SpaceX rocket is expected to send a crew of four to the International Space Station tomorrow, October 5th. Lift-off from the Kennedy Space Center is scheduled for 12:00 PM EDT.

On this date in 1957, at 1928 Universal Time (or 2:28 PM EST) the Soviet Union launched the world’s first artificial satellite and The Space Age began. That first satellite was called “Sputnik,” and though it was only about the size of a beach ball, it was easily seen from Earth if it passed over your location at the right time of day because its polished surface reflected sunlight like a disco ball in the sky. Amateur radio operators around the world could even hear the chirping telemetry signals it transmitted from outer space.

It’s estimated that over 11,000 satellites have been sent into space since Sputnik, with some 5,000 of them still in Earth orbit. About 3,000 of this number are currently active, with more being added daily to perform a wide variety of communication and data gathering operations.

The photograph below (courtesy of nasa.gov) shows a replica of Sputnik 1 with its four radio aerials.

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For Monday, 03 October, 2022

This was the 276th day of the year with 89 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Moon reached its First Quarter phase today. It is in the astro-Nomical constellation Sagittarius and the astro-Logical sign of Capricorn.

Saturn and Jupiter continue to appear prominently in the early evenings, while Mars rises later in the night. Mercury, the closest planet to the Sun, is also becoming visible to the naked eye low on the eastern horizon about an hour before sunrise.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 102, up 46 from Friday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Unsettled today. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 2 to 4 today, but spiked to Storm level 5 before midnight UT on Sunday. The Sun has been extremely active over the weekend and throughout the day today. There have been multiple M Class Solar Flares, and an X1 Class flare occurred at 2025 UT on October 2nd. The Earth has managed to dodge the brunt of any harmful effects from recent strong flares because their sources have not been squarely aimed at our planet. That streak of luck could come to an end this week, however, when one of the biggest and most active sunspot groups seen in recent years rotates directly into our sights. Auroras could become visible as far south as the northern tier of the US, and into corresponding latitudes of Europe in the nights ahead. High solar activity at this time of year is also known to cause disruptions to satellites in geo-synchronous orbits, including the satellites used for sending TV programming to satellite dish subscribers on Earth, and strong flares can affect operation of GPS satellite systems as well. No major Meteor Showers are peaking at this time, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. The American Meteor Society has logged about 4 dozen reports of fireball sightings since Friday night, including reports from Slovenia, Italy, England, Canada and the US.

The death toll from Hurricane Ian in Florida alone has surpassed 100 and is likely to climb even higher as search and rescue efforts continue. Major flooding, power outages, and conditions that can best be described as “obliteration” will continue long after the storm that tore through the Caribbean, Cuba, Florida and the US Mid-Atlantic has dissipated.

On Monday afternoon a disturbance in the Atlantic to the northeast of Brazil seems to be closely following the early path of Ian, but it has shown little sign of development. Another disturbance much farther east in the Atlantic appears likely to strengthen, but is expected to steer clear of the Americas.

In the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Orlene developed into a category 4 hurricane before making landfall on the west coast of Mexico. The storm quickly weakened but heavy rain, possible flooding, and landslides in the mountainous terrain will continue.

EXTRA: The image below shows the two areas near opposite edges of the Sun that released strong flares almost simultaneously on Sunday October 2. This photo shows the sun in extreme ultraviolet wavelengths and represents characteristic temperatures around 10.8 million degrees Fahrenheit. The large and very active sunspot group at top left will be rotating to face the Earth directly over the next several days. (Public use photo courtesy of NASA/SDO and the AIA, EVE, and HMI science teams.)

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For Friday, 30 September, 2022

This was the 273nd day of the year with 92 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Scorpio and the astro-Logical sign of Sagittarius.

The Crescent Moon is now visible low in the west-southwest after sunset – and did you know: Saturday October 1st is “International Observe the Moon Night” . . .

This event has been held annually since 2010, and is always scheduled on a night when the waxing Moon is near its First Quarter phase. These early evening viewing times of the Moon are considered ideal for seeing exceptionally clear details on the Lunar surface. So, whether you are simply looking with your eyes, through binoculars, or using a small telescope, try to get a good look at the Moon over the weekend. People all over the world will be hosting in-person observing parties, and there will be many virtual events as well, so check online for more information about “International Observe the Moon Night” in your area.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 56, down 16 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Unsettled to Quiet. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 4 to 2 today. A large sunspot group will be rotating into Earth-view over the weekend. This disturbance is known to have been producing intense activity on the far side of the Sun for several days, and it has released M Class Solar Flares just off the sun’s northeastern edge today, so there are reasonable expectations for strong Earth-directed flares in the upcoming week. High solar activity at this time of year is particularly known for causing disruptions to satellites in geo-synchronous orbits, including the satellites used for sending TV programming to satellite dish subscribers on Earth. No major Meteor Showers are currently active, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies.

Two Near Earth Objects flew past the Earth today at less than 2 Lunar Distances away. Near Earth Object 2022 SZ9 will come within 1.52 LD at about 2300 UT on October 1.

A Magnitude 5.9 earthquake was recorded in Indonesia at 1928 UT today.

The first images from NASA’s Juno probe flyby of Jupiter’s moon Europa have started coming in. Researchers will be comparing these images to the last close-up images taken of Europa to look for any changes in the surface structure that would be indicators that Europa is still an active body.

The full force of Hurricane Ian’s streak of destruction across Florida became increasingly evident today. Homes were ripped from their foundations, entire communities turned into piles of debris, and

roads and bridges were washed away leaving many residents stranded. At least four people have been confirmed dead, and that toll is likely to rise as search and rescue efforts continue. As of Friday morning over 2 million customers were still without electricity, further hampering communications and recovery efforts.

Ian made its second landfall in South Carolina as a Category 1 Hurricane but has now weakened to Post Tropical Storm status with maximum sustained winds around 70 MPH as of 5 PM EDT. Tropical Storm force winds are expected along the coasts of South Carolina and southeastern North Carolina through early Saturday, with life-threatening storm surge possible along the same coastal areas. Major flooding will continue through next week across central Florida, and considerable flooding is possible in parts of the Carolinas and Virginia into early Saturday. As of late Friday afternoon another 380,000 people in the Carolinas and Virginia are without electricity from the storm.

Out in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Orlene has begun making its predicted turn to the north and is expected to begin spreading Tropical Force winds over Mexico’s west central coast over the weekend. At 3PM MDT the National Hurricane Center advised that heavy rainfall is expected to lead to flash flooding and possible landslides in the mountainous terrain of Southwest Mexico going into Monday afternoon. Note that the storm will be impacting the same general region of Mexico that was hit by a series of strong earthquakes last week.

The image below shows the waxing crescent Moon as photographed from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. Note the long shadows and irregular surface features along the “terminator”, the lit-unlit edge line along the Moon’s surface. These details are similar to what Earth based observers can see on “International Observe the Moon Night”. (Public use photo from images.nasa.gov)

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For Thursday, 29 September, 2022

This was the 272nd day of the year with 93 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Libra and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio, moving into Sagittarius.

Jupiter is still closer to Earth than usual and it will be the brightest object in the night sky until the Moon returns to the night sky view. A slim crescent moon should now be visible in the west after sunset. Jupiter is rising in the east around local sunset and will be a good target for binoculars and small telescopes throughout the upcoming nights.

Saturn is rising a few hours earlier than Jupiter so it will appear farther to the west and set before 3 AM Local Standard Time. Mars rises around 10 PM LST, so the red planet will also be visible through the late night and early morning hours.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 72, down 48 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet. The Planetary K Index has ranged around 2 today. No major Meteor Showers are currently active, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. The American Meteor Society has logged about 20 fireball sightings since our last report, about half of them from Germany and the Netherlands, and half from California.

A 6.5 Magnitude earthquake was recorded today around 0300 UT near the South Sandwich Islands, a sparsely populated area between Argentina and the Antarctic.

Earlier today NASA’s space probe “Juno” flew within 222 miles of Jupiter’s moon “Europa”. Europa is just slightly smaller than Earth’s moon, and scientists think there is a salt-water ocean lying underneath its frozen surface. This raises the possibility of life on Europa, so the Juno probe could deliver some extremely interesting data within the next few days. This was more or less a brief scouting operation performed in advance of a mission that will be dedicated to doing a more detailed study of Europa later in this decade.

Hurricane Ian left a path of destruction across Florida overnight with some locations experiencing record breaking flood levels, catastrophic storm damage, widespread power outages and an as yet unknown total count of injuries and deaths. Storm surge, tropical storm force winds and heavy rainfall were expected to brush the southeast corner of Georgia today. Ian weakened to a Tropical Storm as it crossed over Florida, but as we predicted on this broadcast last night, it did re-intensify to hurricane status after the center moved back into the Atlantic Ocean. Ian may continue to re-strengthen and will approach the coast of South Carolina Friday, then move further inland and across the Carolinas on Friday and Saturday. Storm Surge, Hurricane, and Tropical Storm Warnings have been issued along the coastal areas of the Carolinas. While no Tornado warnings are currently in effect, the potential for

tornado activity associated with these storms is always a possibility. As much as 10” of rainfall is predicted around Charleston, South Carolina, with 4 to 6” possible for inland areas of the Carolinas, Virginia, parts of West Virginia, Maryland, and DC by the weekend.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Orlene is expected to turn northeast and head toward Mexico’s west central coast line where it could make landfall by Monday. Note that this storm could impact the same area that was hit by a series of strong earthquakes last week.

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For Wednesday, 28 September, 2022

This was the 271st day of the year with 94 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Scorpio.

Jupiter is still much closer to Earth than usual and it will be the brightest object in the night sky until the Moon returns to view. Jupiter rises in the east around local sunset and will be a good target for binoculars and small telescopes throughout the upcoming nights.

Saturn is rising a few hours earlier than Jupiter so it will appear farther to the west and set before 3 AM Local Standard Time. Mars rises around 10 PM LST, so the red planet will also appear very prominent through the late night and early morning hours.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 110, down 10 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 1 to 2 today. No major Meteor Showers are currently active, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies.

On Thursday the 29th, NASA’s space probe “Juno” will fly within 222 miles of Jupiter’s moon “Europa”. Europa is slightly smaller than Earth’s moon, and scientists think there is a vast salt-water ocean underneath Europa’s frozen surface. This raises speculation about the possibility of life on Europa so, armed with a full array of sensors and high resolution cameras, the Juno probe could deliver some extremely interesting data in the very near future.

After wreaking a path of devastation across the Caribbean Sea over the past several days, Hurricane Ian has met or exceeded all expectations for catastrophic conditions along the central west coast of Florida. Storm surge, wind damage and heavy rain are expected to spread slowly across the state and reach the northeast coast of Florida by Thursday. The center of the storm will possibly move back into the Atlantic where it could re-strengthen briefly before making another landfall in Georgia, and South Carolina Thursday and Friday. Widespread flooding, extended power outages, and the ongoing threat of tornado development both near and away from the center of the storm will be likely for several more days.

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For Tuesday, 27 September, 2022

This was the 270th day of the year with 95 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra, but now moving into Scorpio.

Jupiter is still much closer to Earth than usual and it will be the brightest object in the night sky until the Moon returns to view. Jupiter rises in the east around local sunset and will be a good target for binoculars and small telescopes throughout the upcoming nights.

Saturn is rising a few hours earlier than Jupiter so it will appear farther to the west and set before 3 AM Local Standard Time. Mars rises around 10 PM LST, so the red planet will also appear very prominent through the late night and early morning hours.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 120, up 24 from yesterday. An unexpected blast of solar wind hit the Earth’s magnetic field just before midnight UT on the 26th and triggered a G2 class geomagnetic storm which produced vivid Aurora displays south of the 50 degree latitude line. The Planetary K Index has generally ranged from 2 to 4 today, but spiked at level 6 just after midnight UT following the solar blast. No major Meteor Showers are currently active, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies.

Near Earth Object 2022 SZ2 passed within 1.47 LD (Lunar Distance) of our planet at about 1900 UT, or 3 PM EDT today. 1.47 LD = about 350,000 miles or 565,000 km.

NASA’s DART spacecraft made a bull’s-eye strike to a small asteroid named Dimorphos at 2314 UT on Monday the 26th. DART is an acronym for the “Double Asteroid Redirect Test” in which a 1,260 pound spacecraft moving about 14,000 mph was intentionally crashed into the smaller member of a double asteroid system 7 million miles from Earth. This experiment was performed to see if the collision would alter the asteroid’s orbital trajectory and help demonstrate whether the technique can help defend Earth from possible collisions with menacing space rocks in the future. Mission scientists will be analyzing data to look for changes in Dimorphos’ orbit over the next several weeks to learn whether their ultimate goal has been achieved. Stay tuned for updates.

The center of Hurricane Ian has now moved over western Cuba with devastating effects. With sustained winds currently at 120 MPH and the possibility of intensification over open water, this storm is on course to impact southwestern Florida as soon as tonight and Wednesday morning. At 5 PM EDT this afternoon the National Hurricane Center issued an advisory for (Quote) “life-threatening storm surge along the Florida west coast with the highest risk from Naples to the Sarasota region.” (Unquote.)

(Note that this area is slightly farther south than had been predicted yesterday.)

Storm surge refers to sea water being driven over the shore by high winds, and surge levels are predicted to reach as high as 8-12 feet in the most severely affected areas. Lower but still dangerous surge levels are expected along the entire western coast and the Keys. Residents of the warned areas must not take this threat lightly and evacuation orders should be heeded without hesitation!

Devastating wind damage is also expected near the core of Ian, and heavy rainfall will affect most of the Florida Peninsula for the next several days. Ian will move into the rest of the southeastern US on Thursday and Friday with continued heavy rain and widespread flooding likely.

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For Monday, 26 September, 2022

This was the 269th day of the year with 96 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waxing Crescent Moon is also in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The New Moon occurred yesterday, Sunday, September 25th , so a very thin slice of crescent moon might be barely visible low in the west around sunset this evening.

At 0400 UT on Monday the 26th (or 10PM Sunday the 25th EDT) Jupiter, our Solar System’s biggest planet, was at its closest distance to the Earth since 1963. Jupiter is rising in the east around local sunset and will be the brightest object in the sky throughout the next few nights. A look at Jupiter through a telescope or good binoculars should reveal unusually clear details of Jupiter’s cloud bands and perhaps its famous “Red Spot” tonight. You should also be able to see three or four of its biggest moons, depending on when you look.

Saturn is rising a few hours earlier than Jupiter so it will appear farther to the west and set before 3 AM Local Standard Time. Mars rises around 10 PM LST, so the red planet will also appear very prominent throughout the late night and early morning hours.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 96, down 6 from Friday’s report, but on Sunday the Sunspot number was as high as 128. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet over the past 48. The Planetary K Index has generally ranged from 0 to 3 with a brief spike to level 4 on Saturday. No major Meteor Showers are currently active, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. The American Meteor Society received nearly 250 reports of Fireball sightings between late Friday night and early Monday morning. These reports came from locations all across the US and Canada, as well as parts of Europe.

Near Earth Object 2022 SZ2 will pass within 1.47 LD (Lunar Distance) of our planet at about 1900 UT on Tuesday the 27th. 1.47 LD = about 350,000 miles or 565,000 km.

A 6.2 Magnitude earthquake struck Indonesia at 2052 UT on Friday the 23rd, and a 6.1 quake struck Chile at 2253 UT, almost exactly two hours later.

As we predicted on Friday’s broadcast, Fiona reached the eastern Atlantic Provinces of Canada as a Post-Tropical Cyclone over the weekend, producing historic levels of storm damage in its path.

The tropical disturbance we announced as having been designated Tropical Depression Number 9 on last Friday’s broadcast quickly developed into Hurricane Ian over the weekend. At 11 AM EDT Monday the National Hurricane Center issued an advisory for life threatening storm surge, hurricane force winds, flash floods and possible mud slides in portions of western Cuba this evening through Tuesday. Storm surge is also possible along the south west coast of Florida from around Fort Myers to the

Tampa Bay region. Tropical storm conditions are expected for the Florida Keys northward by late Tuesday, with hurricane force winds and heavy rain by Wednesday morning. The storm will spread to central and northern Florida on Wednesday and Thursday, then begin to move towards Georgia and the Carolinas by the end of this week.

NASA had to postpone the test launch of the Artemis I moon rocket due to concerns over Hurricane Ian, but NASA’s “DART Mission” experiment should have been performed just before tonight’s Yourufoshow went on the air. DART is an acronym for the “Double Asteroid Redirect Test” in which a spacecraft will be intentionally crashed into a small asteroid to see if that will effectively alter the asteroid’s course. This test will help determine if such a technique could be used to prevent the Earth from having an un-intentional collision with an asteroid in the future. We plan to have news about DART’s results on tomorrow night’s broadcast.

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For Friday, 23 September, 2022

This was the 266th day of the year with 99 days remaining. 

The sun is in the astronomical constellation Virgo and moving into the astrological sign of Libra. The waning crescent moon is in the astronomical constellation Cancer and the astrological sign of Leo. The moon is rising after 4:00 a.m. and setting around 6:00 p.m. Local Standard Time. add 1 hour for dst. The New Moon occurs on Sunday September 25th.

The September equinox occurred just after 1:00 a.m. universal time on the 23rd, so today was the first full day of either Autumn or spring for most of us, depending on which side of the equator you live.

On Sunday the 25th, Jupiter, our solar system’s biggest planet, will be at its closest distance to the Earth since 1963! Jupiter is rising in the East around sunset and will be shining very brightly overhead throughout the upcoming nights. (We’ll have more to say about Jupiter and its effect on our planet next week.)

Saturn is rising a few hours earlier than Jupiter so it will appear further to the west and set around 3:00 a.m. local standard Time. Mars rises about an hour before midnight LST, so the red planet will appear very prominently throughout the late night and early morning hours.

The current Boulder sunspot number is 99, up 29 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been quiet over the past 24 hours. The planetary k index has ranged from 1 to 3. 

An M1 class solar flare occurred at 1807 UT September 23rd. Another solar eruption was also observed at 1330 UT but it was not directed towards the earth.

There are no major meteor showers at this time but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. The American meteor society received over two dozen reports of fireball sightings overnight, including several from Ontario Canada, several from Texas, and the rest from widely scattered States across the US.

A 5.2 magnitude earthquake hit the southwestern coastal area of Mexico today at 1826 ut. This was yet another significant quake close to the same area struck by the 7.6 quake and it’s numerous aftershocks earlier in the week.

As of Friday afternoon hurricane Fiona was still maintaining wind speeds of 130 mph and is expected to reach the Eastern Atlantic provinces of Canada tonight. Fiona is could produce historic levels of storm impact for Canada, with hurricane Force winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall from late Friday into Sunday.

Further south, the tropical disturbance in the Caribbean Sea that we’ve been following in this report for the past several days is now officially designated as Tropical Depression Number 9. With maximum sustained winds around 35 mph, this storm is expected to produce torrential rainfall over Jamaica, the Cayman islands, and Cuba over the weekend. 4 to 8 inches of rainfall is likely all across the entire region, with potential for 12 to 14 inches in local spots. Extensive flooding and landslides will be possible. Future intensity of this storm is uncertain, but number 9 will almost certainly impact Florida and the Eastern Gulf Coast of the US with heavy rain and winds by early next week.

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For Thursday, 22 September, 2022

This was the 265th day of the year with exactly 100 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astro-Nomical constellation Virgo and moving into the astro-Logical sign of Libra. The Waning Crescent Moon is in the astro-Nomical constellation Cancer and has moved into the astro-Logical sign of Leo. The Moon is rising around 2:30 AM and setting around 5:00 PM Local Standard Time (add 1 hour for DST).

We are rapidly approaching the September Equinox when the Sun will cross directly over the Earth’s equator from north to south, marking the start of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and the start of Spring in the Southern Hemisphere. The exact instant of the Equinox is between 0103 and 0104 Universal Time September 23rd – which, in Eastern Daylight Time, is about 9:03 PM on Thursday the 22nd __ just a few minutes after Your UFO Show ends tonight, wherever you are!

The word Equinox means “Equal Night,” and it’s often said that day and night are of equal lengths on the Equinox. In fact, however, there will be several more minutes of daylight than nighttime today for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere. Eggs are not really easier to balance on their ends today more than any other day, but if you stand at the Equator at precisely Solar Noon on the Equinox you won’t cast a shadow (well not much of one anyway.)

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 70, unchanged from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet over the past 24 hours. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 0 to 2. All in all, a rather unremarkable day for the Sun, considering that this is the Equinox. There are no major Meteor Showers at this time, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. The American Meteor Society received over 40 reports of Fireball sightings overnight, with about 30 coming from Mid-Atlantic States in the US, several from California, and others from France, Germany and Belgium.

Near-Earth-Object 2022 SG3 passed by Earth at 0809 UT this morning at just 1.7 LD, or 1.7 times the average distance to the moon, which equates to about 414 thousand miles (or roughly 666 thousand kilometers.)

A 6.8 magnitude Earthquake hit the southwestern coastal area of Mexico at 0616 UT overnight. This one was very close to the same area affected by the 7.6 quake and its numerous aftershocks earlier in the week. Hawaii has been shaken by at least six minor earthquakes today, all registering around 2.5 in magnitude, and at least 10 other quakes registering between 4.5 and 5.2 have occurred today.

Numerous Volcanic Ash Advisories were issued today due to continuing eruptions from active volcanoes around the world, including warnings about ash plumes exceeding 20.000 feet in altitude from volcanoes in Columbia, Ecuador and Peru.

Fiona progressed to Category 4 status today with sustained wind speeds over 130 miles per hour. The deadly storm will pass near Bermuda with continuing life-threatening effects tonight. The storm is predicted to strike portions of Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces of Canada with hurricane force winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall by late Friday into Saturday. `A tropical wave located over the Windward Islands north of Brazil is still expected to organize into a Tropical Depression within the coming days. Venezuela and Columbia will experience heavy rain and gusty winds as the disturbance moves west-northwest into the central Caribbean Sea.

Debris from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is forecast to reenter the Earth’s atmosphere on September 23 around 0808 UT, probably somewhere over the southern Pacific Ocean near Antarctica. In its last few orbits the rocket debris will pass over parts of Africa, Europe, and Alaska, so observers in those areas should be alert for possible signs of the debris’ fiery reentry.

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For Wednesday, 21 September, 2022

This was the 264th day of the year with 101 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astronomical constellation Virgo and the astrological sign of Virgo. The Waning Crescent Moon is in the astronomical constellation Cancer and has moved into the astrological sign of Leo. The Moon rises around 1:30 AM and sets around 4:30 PM Local Standard Time (add 1 hour for DST).

Saturn will be visible in the southeast by the middle of the night. Jupiter will rise later and appear farther to the east, moving overhead by the early morning. Mars will appear bright red and high in the sky near the constellation Orion in the hours just before dawn.

We are approaching the September Equinox when the Sun will cross the Earth’s equator from north to south. The exact moment of the Equinox is 0104 UT September 23rd, or 9:04 pm EDT on Thursday the 22nd. The September Equinox marks the first day of Autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and the first day of Spring for the Southern Hemisphere. Equinoxes are often associated with heightened geomagnetic activity, intense Auroral displays, and other Solar-Terrestrial effects, and a minor geomagnetic storm is considered possible on the 23rd. The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 70, down 4 from yesterday. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet over the past 24 hours. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 0 to 2. An M1 Class solar Flare occurred at 0702 UT on September 21, and several lesser flares occurred later in the day. There are no major Meteor Showers at this time, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. The American Meteor Society received over a dozen fireball reports overnight, primarily from Italy and Greece. It’s also worth noting that Asteroid 2022 SR2, with a diameter of about 9 meters (or about 30 feet), whirled past the Earth today just slightly more distant than the Moon itself – only 1.2 Lunar Distances away. This was the fifth Near-Earth- Asteroid that passed by at less than twice the Moon’s distance within the past week, with another near miss coming tomorrow !

Earthquake activity has not been as extreme today as the past several days, but quakes ranging from Magnitude 5.0 to 5.7 were registered in Indonesia, Iran and New Guinea. Numerous Volcanic Ash Advisories were issued today due to continuing eruptions from active volcanoes around the world.

Hurricane Fiona has developed sustained wind speeds around 130 miles per hour and is expected to pass near Bermuda by late Thursday into early Friday. The storm is predicted to strike portions of Atlantic Canada with hurricane force winds, storm surge, and heavy rainfall late on Friday and into Saturday. A tropical wave located over the Windward Islands north of Brazil is expected to organize into a Tropical Depression within the coming days. Venezuela and Columbia will experience heavy rain and gusty winds as the disturbance moves west-northwest into the central Caribbean Sea.

The International Space Station received 3 additional crew members today following the successful launch and docking of one American astronaut and 2 Cosmonauts lifted aboard a Soyuz rocket. The ISS will still be making visible passes over the United States in the early evening hours, and the Chinese Space Station “Tiangong” will make visible passes over the US in the early morning hours over the next several days.

NASA’s fueling tests for the Artemis I moon rocket did not go as smoothly as hoped today, with unacceptable levels of leakage from the same hose couplings that delayed the rocket’s launch earlier this month. Engineers experimented with modifications to the refueling procedure and, as of this writing, expectations are still good for an unmanned test launch of the enormous rocket on September 27.

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For Tuesday, 20 September, 2022

This was the 263rd day of the year with 102 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astronomical constellation Virgo and the astrological sign of Virgo. The Waning Crescent Moon is in the constellation Gemini and the astrological sign of Cancer. The Moon rises after Midnight and sets around 4 PM Local Standard Time (add 1 hour for DST).

The Moon will appear close to Castor and Pollux, the “Twin Stars” of Gemini, on the nights of the 20th and 21st. The crescent Moon will also be close to a group of stars known as the “Beehive Cluster” in the pre-dawn hours on the morning of the 21st. This sight should present a very special view through binoculars. There are no major Meteor Showers at this time, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. The American Meteor Society received over 40 reports of Fireball sightings overnight. About half of these reports were from southern US states, with about half from California and other western and Midwestern states.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 74, up 23 from yesterday as a new group of rapidly growing sunspots has rotated into view. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet over the past 24 hours. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 1 to 3. An M1 Class solar Flare occurred at 1122 UT on September 20, and several lesser flares have occurred throughout the day.

A 6.0 earthquake occurred in eastern Russia at 1823 UT on September 20, and at least 4 significant aftershocks ranging from Magnitude 4.5 to 5.8 have rattled the coastal region of southwestern Mexico that was hit by a deadly 7.6 earthquake yesterday. Numerous Volcanic Ash Advisories were issued today due to continuing eruptions from active volcanoes around the world.

Hurricane Fiona was upgraded to a Category 3 Hurricane with wind speeds over 110 miles per hour. The storm dropped more rain on parts of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic today as it moved steadily toward the Turks and Caicos Islands delivering life-threatening floods and winds across the Caribbean. Tropical Storm conditions from Fiona were also beginning to spread into the Bahamas today and are predicted for Bermuda by Thursday. Fiona is expected to strengthen and move North-Northeast over the next several days, steering away from the US mainland, but potentially hitting the Eastern Atlantic Provinces of Canada as a Hurricane Force Cyclone by Friday. A tropical wave located near the Windward Islands north of Brazil is also expected to strengthen and bring heavy rainfall and gusty winds to that area beginning on Wednesday. Meanwhile, in the eastern Pacific, Post-Tropical Cyclone Madeline and two other un-named disturbances are hovering off the southwest coast of Mexico.

The International Space Station will be making several visible passes over the United States in the early evening hours of the upcoming week, and the Chinese Space Station “Tiangong” will make several visible passes over the US in the early morning hours over the next several days.

On Wednesday morning NASA plans to conduct tests to confirm whether the hydrogen leak that delayed the launch of Artemis I a few weeks ago has been successfully repaired. Artemis I is NASA’s next generation Moon launch rocket. Tomorrow’s test procedure will be broadcast live on NASA TV beginning at 7:15 AM EDT. The rocket’s first launch, an un-manned test flight, has been tentatively rescheduled for September 27, with a backup date of October 2.

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For Monday, 19 September, 2022

This was the 262nd day of the year with 103 days remaining.

The Sun is in the astronomical constellation Virgo and the astrological sign of Virgo. The Waning Crescent Moon is in the constellation Taurus and the astrological sign of Cancer. The Moon rises around Midnight and sets around 3 PM Local Standard Time (+1 hour for DST).

There are no major Meteor Showers at this time, but several minor showers and the usual influx of sporadic meteors should produce a few visible meteor trails every hour for observers in clear dark skies. The American Meteor Society received numerous reports of Fireball sightings from all around the world over the weekend, including reports from New Zealand and at least seven US states, as well a continuing spike in the number of reports from the UK where a huge fireball was witnessed by thousands of people last week.

The current Boulder Sunspot Number is 51, down 25 from the previous day as several active clusters of Sunspots have rotated away from earth view. Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet over the past 24 hours. The Planetary K Index has ranged from 1 to 3. Shortly after 1500 hours UT on September 18 the Solar Dynamics Observatory recorded three nearly simultaneous explosions from the Sun’s southern hemisphere from widely separated sources. The subsequent Coronal Mass Ejections are not believed to be earth-directed however. In fact, the earth has narrowly dodged the effects from numerous intense solar outbursts over the past few weeks. How long will our luck continue to hold?

Taiwan was shaken by two strong earthquakes over the weekend. Extensive damage with hundreds of injuries and at least one death have been reported. Volcanic Ash Advisories were issued following explosive activity from volcanoes in Kamchatka Russia, Indonesia, and Peru. At 1805 UT Monday afternoon a powerful 7.6 earthquake struck the southwest coastal area of Mexico. The epicenter was located approximately 37 km southeast of Aquila. At least one person was killed when a wall collapsed from earthquake. Deadly earthquakes had previously struck Mexico on this same date in in 1985 and 2017.

As predicted on this broadcast last week, Tropical Storm Fiona rapidly developed into Hurricane Fiona and made landfall in Puerto Rico with torrential rains and high winds over the weekend. The devastation is widespread and the entire island of Puerto Rico has been without electrical power. Fiona’s next target is the Dominican Republic where similar damage is expected. Hurricane conditions are also expected over the Turks and Caicos tonight. The Bahamas and Bermuda may be within Fiona’s path by Tuesday. Meanwhile, in the Eastern Pacific, Tropical Storm Madeline appears to have changed course and is now expected to head west, avoiding the coastal areas of Mexico that were affected by today’s earthquake.

The International Space Station will be making several visible passes over the United States in the early evening hours throughout the upcoming week. Observers in western states including California, Nevada, Wyoming and the Dakotas should be alert for a possible view of the ISS between 8:19 – 8:30 PM MDT (2619 – 2630 UT) tonight.

The Chinese Space Station “Tiangong” will be making several visible passes over the United States in the early morning hours of the upcoming week. Observers in the eastern US may see Tiangong between 6:20 – 6:30 AM EDT (1020 -01030 UT), and observers in the western US may see Tiangong between 5:55 – 6:10 AM MDT (1155 – 1210 UT) before dawn on the morning of the 20th.

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Friday 16 September, 2022:

This was the 259th day of the year with 106 days remaining.

The Sun is in Virgo, the waning gibbous Moon is in Gemini.

The Moon and Mars will appear close together early in the predawn sky on the 17th. They will be easily located near the constellation Orion and the Pleiades star cluster. Jupiter and Saturn will also be visible in the late evening and overnight sky.

The Current Sunspot Number is 71

Geomagnetic conditions have been Quiet over the past 24 hours.

The Planetary K Index is 1.

A strong M7 class solar flare occurred at 0949 UT,  followed by an M6 flare at 1559 UT.

These flares were just below the strongest level X Class category, so increased Geomagnetic and Auroral activity is possible on the 17th.

Numerous meteor fireball sighting reports from across the northeastern quadrant of the United States were received overnight.

Volcanic Ash Advisories have been issued following eruptions from two volcanos off the coast of Japan, and another volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula in eastern Russia.

Tropical Storm Fiona continues to churn toward the Leeward Islands and Puerto Rico with sustained winds around 50 mph.

The International Space Station will make a visible pass over the central portion of the United States and eastern Canada this evening from about 9:30-9:40 pm EDT (0130-0140 UT.) The station will be especially bright and high in the sky for observers in New Mexico, Kansas, Iowa, Wisconsin and neighboring states, then it will cross over the Great Lakes and head for Ontario, Canada. 

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Thursday 15 September, 2022:

An unpredicted solar shock wave hit the earth just before midnight UT sparking unsettled geomagnetic conditions and bright Auroras in the far Northern and Southern latitudes. Tropical depression #7 in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean picked up speed and is now officially a Tropical Storm named Fiona headed towards Puerto Rico. The American Meteor Society has received nearly 1000 eye witness reports of a huge fireball seen over Scotland and Northern Ireland at 20:57 UT on the 14th. Seismic activity is at a high level with earthquake and volcanic eruptions,

The ISS will be almost directly over Snowflake between 7:16 and 7:23 pm MST, but it will also be visible across most of the southwest and mid-western states on this same pass. So as it goes over Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin and then Canada, the exact time would be a few minutes later, and it would appear lower in the sky the further east or west an observer is from its exact path. (People in states with other time zones would need to adjust the time accordingly.)

The very next orbit will take it over the Eastern part of the US, directly over southeast Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and on across New York, Vermont & Maine then over the Canadian maritimes. This pass will begin around 8:45 pm Eastern Daylight Time and it will have completely crossed beyond North America by 9 pm EDT.

I just learned that the unexpected solar storm that happened last night actually took out dozens of Starlink satellites.
This group of sats was launched last February, and apparently had not achieved their final orbit position so were especially vulnerable to solar effects.
At least some pieces from these satellites created visible displays seen from the ground.