The 'near' miss

From: Rodney Austin (
Date: Thu Mar 29 2007 - 22:21:44 EDT

  • Next message: Marco Langbroek: "Re: The 'near' miss"

    Sorry Tom,
    I meant to send this out to the general list - finger trouble.
    I am interested in just how close the 'near miss' actually was. The
    newspapers here in NZ refer to the pilot seeing flaming debris and
    hearing the rumble over the top of the engine noise of the 747, but
    the passengers heard nothing. They also have latched onto the idea
    that it was the same object that the Russians gave warning about. As I
    worked for a newspaper for 25 years, I know how ignorant (and
    uncaring) of the facts most newspaper reporters tend to be!
    As an astronomer; in my experience with very bright meteors, the sound
    of the sonic boom etc, can often be heard but the object is a long way
    away. In such cases the burning object is many kilometres high. The
    flaring alone can fool even an experienced observer into believing it
    is virtually in his lap! Once it gets to low altitude, and certainly
    of the order of normal jet travel; the object is no longer burning. In
    this case I wonder if the satellite debris was in fact nowhere near a
    collision distance.
    Rod Austin
    PS Since I wrote this, the local paper has carried a story ex NASA,
    referring to the event as a possible meteorite instead.
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