Date sent: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 08:32:40 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <>
Subject: $5,000 Benson Prize For Amateur Discovery of Asteroids <fwd>
Priority: NORMAL

from: Ron Baalke <>

$5,000 Benson Prize For Amateur Discovery of Asteroids

For immediate release
Contact Diane Murphy
telephone: 703.893.0740
email: Prize@SpaceDev.Com

Winston-Salem, NC, June 10. At the 190th annual meeting of the
American Astronomical Society, Space Development corporation
founder and chairman, James William Benson announced the $5,000
"The Benson Prize for the Amateur Discovery of Near Earth
Asteroids." The Benson Prize is a new competition which awards cash
prizes to amateur astronomers who discover near earth asteroids.

Beginning June 10, 1997, a cash prize of $500 will be awarded for
each of the next ten amateur discoveries of near earth asteroids.
The definitions of "amateur" and "near earth asteroid" can be found

The purpose of the Benson Prize is to encourage the discovery of
near earth objects by amateur astronomers. The utilization of
valuable near earth resources can provide many new jobs and
economic activities on earth, while also creating many new
opportunities for opening up the space frontier for working and
living in space.

Long-term utilization of these near earth resources, worth billions
of dollars for their gold, platinum group metals, water and
volatiles, will significantly contribute to the lessening of the
Earth's environmental degradation caused by mining operations
required to exploit the low grade ores now remaining on Earth.

In addition, near earth objects pose grave dangers for life on
earth. Discovering and plotting the orbits of all near earth
objects is the first and necessary step in protecting ourselves
against the enormous potential damage possible from near earth

With the high quality, large size and low cost of today's consumer
telescopes, with the rapid development of powerful, high resolution
and inexpensive CCD cameras, and with the proliferation of
inexpensive software for today's powerful home computers, the
discovery of near earth asteroids by amateur astronomers is more
attainable than ever.

The Benson Prize is sponsored by Space Development, LLC, a private
space exploration company headquartered in Steamboat Springs,
Colorado. In July, Space Development will make a major announcement
concerning the company's venture to build the first private
spacecraft to venture beyond earth orbit, and the first private
venture to visit and land on another planetary body.


"Amateur" is a person who is not employed as an astronomer. In the
event of controversy, Space Development, LLC will judge if the
candidate meets the spirit of the Prize, which encourages amateur
astronomers to seek out new near earth objects.

"Near Earth Asteroid" is any natural object with a current
perihelion less than the Earth's average distance from the Sun, 1.0
Astronomical Unit (AU).


Date sent: Mon, 16 Jun 1997 08:24:12 -0400 (EDT)
From: Benny J Peiser <>
Subject: "New Zealand hit by meteor or space debris"
Priority: NORMAL

from: Daniel Fischer <>
tells us:

New Zealand hit by meteor or space debris


Copyright ) 1997
Copyright ) 1997 The Associated Press

AUCKLAND (June 13, 1997 10:44 a.m. EDT) -- A brightly burning
object crashed into New Zealand's North Island Friday in what
police and scientists believe was a shower of meteors or space

Astrid Burgess was driving home around dinner time when she saw a
ball of fire streak across the sky and crash with a "boom" into
hills north of Wellington, the capital.

"It was green and red at the back with smoke trailing out the rear
of it," said Burgess. "I thought, 'Oh my God, it's a plane going
down. They're going to die."'

Emergency crews, responding to numerous similar reports, searched
the area but found nothing. Authorities planned to fly over the
area Saturday morning.

"It wasn't a plane crash," said Pat O'Neill, a police inspector.
"It's more likely from the advice we've been given that this
incident is linked to unusual atmospheric activity -- possibly
meteors or space debris."

A meteor is the streak of light -- often called a falling star --
that occurs when a meteoroid, a chunk of stony or metallic matter,
enters the Earth's atmosphere from space. Friction with the air
causes the meteoroid to heat up, creating a glow and leaving a
trail of glowing gases.

While hundreds of fireballs are recorded around the world each
year, meteoroids rarely survive to hit the Earth's surface. Most
disintegrate upon reaching the atmosphere.

John Field, a spokesman at New Zealand's Carter Observatory, said
he fielded a number of calls about the object.

"I tend to believe ... it's just a bit of space debris because a
greenish glow tends to mean it has oxygen in it," he said today.
"It could be a part of one of the old space craft that had gone up,
or a satellite."


Is anyone reading this list 'down there' and able to get more

Daniel Fischer

CCCMENU CCC for 1997