CCNet DIGEST, 30 April 1998

    Phil Burns <>


    Don Yeomans <>

    A. Greshake et al., Humboldt University, Berlin

    G. Michalak, Wroclaw University Observatory, Poland

    M. Krolikowska et al., Polish Academy of Science

    Ed Grondine <>


From Phil Burns <>

Today (April 29, 1998) many news media here in the U. S. carried an
article from the Scripps Howard News Service written by Lawrence Spohn.
You can find a copy online at

The article, which quotes Mark Boslough, Eleanor Helin, Grant Stokes,
and Alan Hale, reemphasizes the difficulties faced in obtaining funding
for programs to search for potentially hazardous objects.

-- Phil "Pib" Burns
   Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.  USA


By Lawrence Spohn
Scripps Howard News Service
Albuquerque, New Mexico, April 29 —
Asteroid trackers say the government may be getting serious about the
real threat of an asteroid or comet with Earth's name on it.
They reported serious discussions between NASA and the Air Force to
collaborate on identifying any nearby cosmic nemesis that might be on a
collision course with Earth.
But they'll believe it, they said, when they see the government money
and expanded programs necessary to effectively search the heavens for
"near-Earth objects" that have the potential to devastate life on the
Blue Orb.
Among nearly 400 space scientists and engineers attending Space '98 and
Robotics '98 conferences in Albuquerque this week, they said they
already have found dozens of PHOs, or "potentially hazardous objects,"
whose orbits someday will bring them too close to Earth for comfort.
The threat is real even if it may seem improbable and distant, said
Mark Boslough, a scientist at Sandia National Laboratories in
Boslough accurately predicted that a series of comet impacts on Jupiter
four years ago would have the explosive force of more than all of the
world's nuclear bombs. The impacts were so extreme they sent Jovian
debris streaming into space and caused lasting atmospheric changes on
the giant planet's face.
But without additional government funding, it will take decades to find
all the dim space wanderers that could pose an Earthly threat, said
Eleanor Helin, who directs the Near Earth Asteroid Tracking program at
the National Air and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
in Pasadena, Calif.
The program uses an Air Force Research Laboratory satellite tracking
telescope in Hawaii that has advanced technology developed and tested
at the Air Force's Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland Air Force Base in
But the Jet Propulsion Laboratory program gets only six nights a month
to make asteroid searches with the Hawaii telescope. Noting that her
program alone has identified 118 threatening asteroids among 12,025 new
ones it has identified in the last few years, Helin said the program
needs to be tripled.
It should include two additional telescopes and at least 18 nights of
observations, she said. At that rate, she believes astronomers could
identify 90 percent of the threats within 15 years.
"We're operating on a beg, borrow or steal basis, like everybody else
in this business," said Grant Stokes, of the LINEAR Space Surveillance
program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
It is using sophisticated, light-sensitive electronics, developed by
MIT for the Air Force, in a meticulous sky search that in March alone
found 13 new near-Earth objects and one comet.
"They're letting us do it, but we're Air Force-funded and -controlled,"
Stokes said. He said he has been told that an Air Force general in
Colorado Springs, Colo., and NASA administrator Dan Goldin have begun
discussions on how to collaborate on a formal, united near-Earth search
using civilian and military resources.
New Mexico astronomer Alan Hale, who co-discovered one of the most
spectacular comets ever seen, Comet Hale-Bopp, suggested government
officials may sense that the issue may be "capturing the public's
He said two movies about cosmic collisions with Earth are due to open,
Deep Impact this weekend and Armageddon this summer.
Deep Impact is based on Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Jack
Hills' research that predicts a large comet or asteroid impact in one
of the major oceans would cause massive tidal waves that would swamp
coastal cities. The largest impact could send a wave surge as far
inland as the Midwest, some scientists have calculated.
The Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories are nuclear-weapons
labs, and some weaponeers believe warheads could be used to deflect or
destroy a threatening asteroid or comet.
Boslough said scientists have plenty of evidence that potentially
catastrophic collisions occur about once a century, but the ultimate
damage depends on where on Earth the object strikes and how big it is.
Even small objects that never reach the surface but detonate in the
atmosphere can explode with the force of a nuclear bomb, Boslough said,
citing the Tunguska event in Siberia early this century.
The shock wave and heat can threaten life directly or indirectly
through fire storms, he said.
Scientists believe the evidence is compelling that a killer comet
struck Earth 65 million years ago and caused the extinction of the
dinosaurs possibly through global climate change from sun-shielding
debris spewed in the atmosphere.
Copyright 1998 Scripps Howard News Service


From Don Yeomans <>

Hi Duncan,

With regard to you recent remarks in Benny's CC forum, you may be
interested in the following table. If history is any guide, the
Giacobinids will not be very impressive this year since the Earth
arrives at the comet's descending node before the comet passes through
this position and the distance between the comet and Earth orbits near
the comet's descending node are relatively large. I'd say that Oct. 9,
2018 looks pretty good for the next significant Giacobinid shower. 
However, when it comes to meteor showers, there are always surprises
and it would certainly be a good idea to look for Giacobinid activity
in Oct. of this year.

With kind regards,

Giacobinid Meteor Shower Circumstances (1926 - 2031)

Year  C-E (AU)   q (AU)  Earth at     Shower Max.       Radiant 
                         Desc. Node    (Oct.)     ZHR   (Deg.)

1926  -0.0005   0.99373  69.1 before   9.981      17

1933  +0.0054   0.99953  80.2 after    9.767    5000

1946  +0.0015   0.99571  15.4 after   10.157    5000

1952  -0.0057   0.98869 195.5 before   9.648     180

1985  +0.0329   1.02826  27.2 after    8.549     700?

1992  +0.039    1.0340  172.0 after    8.32            260.58 +57.39

1998  +0.038    1.0337   49.5 before   8.87            260.62 +57.42

2005  +0.043    1.0379   91.8 after    8.70            260.52  57.54

2012  +0.035    1.0305  131.7 before   9.20            260.78  57.36

2018  +0.017    1.0127   22.7 after    9.00            261.64  56.78

2025  +0.013    1.0089  174.2 before   8.47            261.81  56.71

2031  +0.076    1.0692   29.6 after    8.37            256.91  58.34

The column entries are:

Year of Giacobinid Shower (or potential shower)

C-E:  The distance (in AU) between the comet's and Earth's orbit at
      the comet's descending node.

q:    Comet's perihelion distance (in AU)

Earth at Descending node:  The number of days before or after
the comet that the Earth arrives at the comet's descending node.

The date the Earth arrives at the comet's descending node or
the time of the predicted shower maximum.

ZHR:  Approximate, observed zenith hourly rate

Radiant:  Predicted RA and DEC of shower (in deg., J2000).

Donald K. Yeomans - JPL


A. Greshake*), W. Klock, P. Arndt, M. Maetz, G.J. Flynn, S. Bajt, A.
Bischoff: Heating experiments simulating atmospheric entry heating of
micrometeorites: Clues to their parent body sources. METEORITICS &
PLANETARY SCIENCE, 1998, Vol.33, No.2, pp.267-290


Depending on their velocity, entry angle and mass, extraterrestrial
dust particles suffer certain degrees of heating during entry into
Earth's atmosphere, and the mineralogy and chemical composition of
these dust particles are significantly changed. In the present study,
pulse-heating experiments simulating the atmospheric entry heating of
micrometeoroids were carried out in order to understand the
mineralogical and chemical changes quantitatively as well as to
estimate the peak temperature experienced by the particles during entry
heating. Fragments of the CI chondrites Orgueil and Alais as well as
pyrrhotites from Orgueil were used as analogue material. The
experiments show that the volatile elements S, Zn, Ga, Ge, and Se can
be lost from 50 to 100 mu m sized CI meteorite fragments at
temperatures and heating times applicable to the entry heating of
similar sized cosmic dust particles. It is concluded that depletions of
these elements relative to CI as observed in micrometeorites are mainly
caused by atmospheric entry heating. Besides explaining the element
abundances in micrometeorites, the experimentally obtained release
patterns can also be used as indicators to estimate the peak heating of
dust particles during entry. Using the abundances of Zn and Ge and
assuming their original concentrations close to CI, a maximum heating
of 1100-1200 degrees C is obtained for previously analyzed Antarctic
micrometeroites. Thermal alteration also strongly influenced the
mineralogy of the meteorite fragments. While the unheated samples
mainly consisted of phyliosilicates, these phases almost completely
transformed into olivine and pyroxene in the fragments heated to
greater than or equal to 800 degrees C. Therefore, dust particles that
still contain hydrous minerals were probably never heated to
temperatures greater than or equal to 800 degrees C in the atmosphere.
During continued heating, the grain size of the newly formed silicates
increased and the composition of the olivines equilibrated. Applying
these results quantitatively to Antarctic micrometeorites, typical peak
temperatures in the range of 1100-1200 degrees C during atmospheric
entry heating are deduced. This temperature range corresponds to the
one obtained from the volatile element concentrations measured in these
micrometeorites and points to an asteroidal origin of the particles.
Copyright 1998, Institute for Scientific Information Inc.


G. Michalak: The orbit of the comet 1914 II Kritzinger.
Nongravitational effects in the comet motion. ACTA ASTRONOMICA, 1998,
Vol.48, No.1, pp.103-112


Using all available observations of the one-apparition comet 1914 II
Kritzinger we show that the gravitational solution makes (O - C)
residuals non-randomly distributed. We therefore apply three other
models of the comet motion: (i) with a displacement of the photometric
center from the center of mass of the comet along the radius vector,
(ii) with a change in the velocity vector due to a single outburst of
the comet, and (iii) with Marsden's standard nongravitational
parameters A(1), A(2), A(3). It turns out that models (ii) and (iii)
fit the observations of comet 1914 II Kritzinger equally well and give
the same mean residual and the same (O - C) residual distributions. In
consequence, from the quality of the fit we are not able to distinguish
which of the two models is better. It is suspected that for some comets
undergoing an outburst, the model (ii) can be an alternative to,
usually applied, Marsden's model (iii). Copyright 1998, Institute for
Scientific Information Inc.


M. Krolikowska, G. Sitarski, S. Szutowicz: Forced precession model for
three periodic comets: 30P/Reinmuth 1, 37P/Forbes, and
43P/Wolf-Harrington. ACTA ASTRONOMICA, 1998, Vol.48, No.1, pp.91-102


The nongravitational motion of three short-period comets - discovered
in the twenties and running on similar heliocentric orbits - has been
investigated. We used the Sekanina's forced precession model of the
rotating cometary nucleus to include the nongravitational terms into
equations of the comet's motion. Values of six precessional parameters:
A, eta, I, phi, f(p) and s have been determined along with corrections
to orbital elements from astrometric observations of the comets. We
were able to link successfully all the observations of each comet over
interval of time spanning about seventy years. According to our
solutions, the nucleus of comet Reinmuth 1 is oblate whereas those of
comets Forbes and Wolf-Harrington are prolate along the spin-axis.
Copyright 1998, Institute for Scientific Information Inc.


From Ed Grondine

Benny -

Amazing what a couple of million dollars worth of television
advertising for "Deep Impact" has done. The following was accepted by
the moderator of the Ancien-L list without so much as a hiccup.


Hello -

The Latin word "fulmine" has usually been translated as "lightening",
but I am beginning to think that this translation has not always been

In his landmark work "Linguistica Tyrrhenica" Fred C. Woudhuizen
establishes the morphological chain pulum (stars) > fulum (stars) in
Etruscan (pages 48 and 75). Since lightening does indeed come from the
skies, this might be the end of it, but...

Pliny, writing on lightening in his Natural History, Book II, Chapter
LIII relates: "Tuscany believes that some also burst out of the ground,
which it calls "low bolts", and that these are rendered exceptionally
direful and accursed by the season of winter, though all the bolts that
they believe of earthly origin are not the ordinary ones and do not
come from the stars but from the nearer and more disordered element; a
clear proof of this being that all those coming from upper heaven
deliver slanting blows, whereas these which they call earthly strike

To restate this, the Etruscans have two types of fulmine, one earthly
and another from the stars. What are these "fulmine" from the stars?

I think that these fulmine may have included exploding meteorites,
known technically as bolides. What may be even more significant is that
in the same passage Pliny also relates that Bolsena was completely
burned up by a fulmine. Now while a lightening strike may set a few
buildings on fire, we know for certain that a bolide such as the one
that exploded over Tel Leilan in Syria can reduce a town to a soil

This may seem quite a stretch, but consider the following passage from
Lucretius on meteorites: "it is a fruitless task to unroll the Tuscan
scrolls, seeking some revelation of the gods' hidden purpose. ... If it
is really Jupiter and the other gods who rock the flashing frame of
heaven, why ... Lastly, why does he demolish the holy shrines of the
gods and his own splendid abodes with a devastating bolt?" Bolsena
(Volsinii) was the ceremonial center for a league of Etrucan cities and
as such would have the temple of Jupiter.  This appears to be the same
event related by Pliny.

What happened next along the River Tiber? To the north, the king of
Clusium attempts to take control of the federation. To the south,
Tarquinius Superbus builds a new home for Jupiter, but the enslaved
local population revolts, and the rest, as they say, is history...

Just some musings, and I hope I have not distracted you to much
from your exams. Perhaps you may have at hand other materials bearing
on this?

                              Salve -
                                 E.P. Grondine  

end of ancien-l list posting

The more astronomically inclined members of the CCNet might find it of
interest that in Book II, Chapter XXX Pliny also gives pretty well dated
occurences of "three suns" and "three moons" - these sound a lot like
atmospheric "skip" incidents to me. Even more alarming, Pliny also
records the occurence at the time of the 107th Olympiad of "chasma", an
opening of the sky of a bloody type, "quo nihil terribilis mortalium
timori est": fire falls from it to the earth.  All in all, Pliny has
passed on to us a very nice collection of reports.

Best Wishes -

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