Near-Earth objects and close calls


The Living Force
FOTCM Member


Jedi Council Member

Extremely eccentric minor planet to visit inner solar system this decade​

The outskirts of our solar system is teeming with mysterious objects – and now one of them is heading our way. Astronomers have discovered a minor planet that’s about to make its closest pass to the Sun on its 600,000-year orbit.

The object in question is designated 2014 UN271
, and it was only recently identified in data from the Dark Energy Survey captured between 2014 and 2018. Size estimates place it anywhere between 100 and 370 km (62 and 230 miles) wide. If it’s a comet, it’s quite a big one, especially for one coming from the outer solar system.

“[That] puts it on a similar scale, if not larger than, Sarabat's huge comet C/1729 P1, and almost undoubtedly the largest Oort Cloud object ever discovered – almost in dwarf planet territory!” says Sam Deen, a citizen astronomer, in a post on the Minor Planet Mailing List (MPML) forum.

But by far the most intriguing thing about 2014 UN271 is its orbit around the Sun. This thing is extremely eccentric, journeying between the inner solar system and the Oort cloud that marks the boundary of interstellar space over a period of 612,190 years.

And it turns out, astronomers are about to witness the closest pass of this incredible round trip. Currently, 2014 UN271 is about 22 Astronomical Units (AU) from the Sun (for reference, Earth is 1 AU from the Sun). That means it’s already closer than Neptune, at 29.7 AU. And it’s not stopping there – it’s already traveled 7 AU in the last seven years, and at its closest in 2031, it’s expected to pass within 10.9 AU of the Sun, almost reaching the orbit of Saturn.

Before then, it’s expected to develop the characteristic coma and tail of a comet, as icy material on its surface vaporizes from the heat of the Sun. This close pass would give astronomers an unprecedented close look at Oort cloud objects.

Unfortunately for us amateurs on the ground, don’t expect to see a show on the scale of Halley’s comet. While it’s too early to tell for sure, Deen calculates that 2014 UN271 would, at best, become about as bright as Pluto in the night sky, but more likely it’ll reach the brightness of Pluto’s moon Charon. Still, we’ll probably get some amazing shots from telescopes and observatories of the time.

After its close pass, 2014 UN271 will then hurtle back out into the inky blackness, on a several-hundred millennia return trip to the Oort cloud, and an incredible peak distance of almost 60,000 AU.


FOTCM Member
A bit more information on that one comet I found here, I also read that so far it would be the largest visitor from the Oort cloud to make it this close to the Sun, although that was on an article in spanish that did not cite any sources.

I also found a link to an organization called the IAU (international Astronomical Union) where the observations are published, though I must admit that they look truly foreign to me, although on their home page they have a tally of NEO discovered which as of today stands as follows:

Near-Earth Objects Discovered​

ALL TIME:26113


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Comet shedding heavy metals and other interesting particles.

May 19, 2021
This video starts by showing an animation of comet C/2016 R2 (PANSTARRS), which was done using real images taken by the SPECULOOS telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observatory. The video then zooms in on a blue comet. In a new study done with the UVES instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, a team has spotted heavy metal atoms in the inner atmosphere of the comet, a discovery illustrated at the end of the video. There we see the spectrum of the comet and in particular the iron (Fe, blue) and nickel (Ni, orange) lines, marking the presence of the two elements in the atmosphere of the comet. More information and download options:
The exceptional new comet 2014 UN271 is 100 to 300 km in diameter, the largest object from the Oort Cloud ever discovered. Now at magnitude 19, its perihelion will be in 2031 as far away as Saturn, its brightness could then be at magnitude 16
The exceptional new comet 2014 UN271 is 100 to 300 km in diameter, the largest object from the Oort Cloud ever discovered. Now at magnitude 19, its perihelion will be in 2031 as far away as Saturn, its brightness could then be at magnitude 16
Cometary activity has been observed recently (today) in the form of an elongated coma. It may become brighter (between magnitude 13 and magnitude 9) . The good news is that there may be time to intercept it with a probe.
Thursday, Jun. 24, 2021
HUGE COMET DISCOVERY: Astronomers have just discovered a comet so big, it might actually be a minor planet. The object is named 2014 UN271. Astronomers Pedro Bernardinelli and Gary Bernstein found it in archival images from the Dark Energy Survey. It appears to be about 100 km wide, 2 or 3 times bigger than record-breaking Comet Hale-Bopp of the 1990s.

Now for the bad news. Although 2014 UN271 is falling toward the sun, we may never see it with our naked eyes. At closest approach in early 2031, the behemoth comet will be just outside the orbit of Saturn, too far for naked-eye viewing. Some astronomers are estimating a maximum brightness near magnitude +17, about the same as Pluto's moon Charon.

It's still an amazing discovery. 2014 UN271 has an extremely elongated orbit stretching from ~the neighborhood of Saturn out to a staggering distance of almost a light year. At the far reaches of its orbit, 2014 UN271 barely feels the sun's gravity and could be snatched out of the Solar System altogether by the ephemeral pull of galactic tides. Discovering such a traveler during its brief time among the planets is very lucky indeed.

There is talk of a space mission to intercept 2014 UN271. The European Space Agency is building a probe called Comet Interceptor designed to investigate comets coming from deep space. It, or something like it, might be able to visit 2014 UN271 a decade from now.

With an object like this, we have to expect surprises. 2014 UN271 certainly poses no threat to Earth, but it could brighten more (or less) than expected. Multiple groups of astronomers have already detected signs of out-gassing even though 2014 UN271 is still beyond Uranus. Early signs of activity may bode well for future visibility through small telescopes if not the unaided eye.

To learn more about this object, we encourage reading the Twitter feed of co-discoverer Pedro Bernardinelli.


FOTCM Member
Perhaps it was already mentioned somewhere on the forum, but apparently there is going to be a very intense (historic levels) meteor shower/storm in almost a year. On 30/31 of May, 2022.

The Russian astronomy/meteorites enthusiasts are abuzz and already work on organizing a trip to Mexico to watch it, because apparently Mexico is going to be the best viewing location for that. But it will be visible in other locations as well.

Here's an info about it.

73P-ids Meteor Storm​

Active: May 30/31
Peak Night: May 30/31
When can it be observed?: 8:11 p.m. to 10:45 p.m. The shower may end before midnight.
Approximate peak hour: 9:45 p.m.-10:45p.m.
Expected dark sky rate: 10,000-100,000 meteors per hour(!)
Good viewing conditions

The shower’s radiant is on the east side of Boötes the Herdsman, about 10 degrees north of the brilliant star Arcturus, high in the northeastern sky. 73P-ids are an offshoot of the usually unremarkable Tau Herculid meteor shower. Both showers are produced by comet 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3. The nucleus of comet 73P broke into several pieces during its returns in 1995, 2006, and 2017. In 2022 the Earth is predicted to pass through the fresh swarm of nucleus fragments, and, based on computer simulations performed by several meteor experts, a brief meteor storm of historic levels should be the likely outcome!

About 50 (mostly faint) meteors per hour may be seen as soon as darkness falls, but vast numbers of bright meteors may appear around 10:15 p.m. The shower should be visible across North America.

Notes: The moon is new and will not interfere with this exceedingly rare opportunity to observe a likely meteor storm.
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Jedi Master
Unfortunately for us amateurs on the ground, don’t expect to see a show on the scale of Halley’s comet. While it’s too early to tell for sure, Deen calculates that 2014 UN271 would, at best, become about as bright as Pluto in the night sky, but more likely it’ll reach the brightness of Pluto’s moon Charon. Still, we’ll probably get some amazing shots from telescopes and observatories of the time

I think it's important to consider the visualization of the orbit of this object, and how it may relate to something similar like Nemesis and/or a twin of the sun, and how it's communicated to lay folk who have no interest, no clue and dismiss anything that messes with their reality. [According to science] this is a large object, on an eccentric orbit, over a very long period in human years.

Imagining myself in the shoes of an ordinary person who cares about the day-to-day living, the immediate stresses of their life and family and wanted to fight this logic, conceptually if I was told that there's a twin of the sun, or a long period object that comes our way infrequently with the ability to also disrupt the outer solar system and throw some rocks that tagged along for the ride at us, I might say:

- We can't see it, and if it's really a threat, we will see it.
- Comets orbit the Sun and get very close to it - sometimes they even hit the sun! If we are in the right spot, we'll see them as they pass, otherwise, who cares?
- NASA and other space nerds have already figured this out.
- Stop making me think.

The object that's discussed will at it's closest point, still remain outside the orbit of Saturn. That's insane! If anything, it's impressive that this has been picked up in the first place (at least with regular tools and equipment).


The Living Force
FOTCM Member

Bright meteor fireball captured over Switzerland

Here are the two videos uploaded to the American Meteor Society website relating to this event. Both were taken using cameras from The European AllSky7 fireball network.

The first video shows the meteor fireball exploding and the surrounding sky looked quite 'grainy' which I thought may have been due to the camera (AMS73 Monteggio).

But the other video, taken from a different camera (AMS64 Wangen), shows a strange shape in the sky. I checked the AllSky7 website and both cameras in question are fully operational with no irregularities reported.

This is a screenshot of the strange shape in the second video.

Strange Swiss meteor fireball.JPG

What do you think? Further evidence of our changing atmosphere? The veil between 4D/3D thinning? UFO cloaking?


Jedi Master
It does look like something to do with the lens. More so because in the footage from the first camera we don't see that shape even though it's recording at the same time as the second.
It looks like there are also two artefacts (moisture or dried droplets perhaps) in the bottom right, with curved outlines at the top edges and illuminated by the ground light sources. It looks like the light from the fireball hit a third artefact to the left at just the right angle to highlight it's whole shape which also possesses a curved top outline.


The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Jun 30, 2021
NASA recently received its first sample of asteroid Ryugu, which was returned to Earth last December by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) Hayabusa2 spacecraft. This is one of the first samples to leave Japan for preliminary investigation. As deputy leader of the mineralogy-petrology subteam for the preliminary analysis effort, Mike Zolensky was one of the first scientists to examine the sample to determine its basic nature. Alongside Zolensky, Jangmi Han from the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division, and James Martinez of the Structural Engineering Division at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston worked together to complete an investigation of the sample. Sample analyses were performed in the Scanning Electron Microscopy Lab in Johnson’s Structural Engineering Division. This was successfully completed within five days. Zolensky is one of a hundred investigators worldwide to receive a sample from JAXA. Preliminary sample analyses are continuing at Johnson. Studying carbonaceous asteroids like Ryugu could help scientists better understand how the solar system formed. Last Updated: Jun 30, 2021 Editor: Nilufar Ramji Tags: Asteroids

Jupiter picks up another moon. Eighty and counting.

Comets visible in July Comet C / 2020 T2 (Palomar) will remain the brightest with magnitude 10 at the beginning of the month observable with small telescopes. On the other hand, both comet 15P / Finlay in magnitude 11 and C / 2019 L3 (ATLAS) rising ..

Surprise surprise the Asteroid Is Metal and has magnetic property's, (mirth).



The Living Force
FOTCM Member
A newly-discovered asteroid will fly past Earth on July 3, 2021.

Posted by Teo Blašković on July 2, 2021



FOTCM Member
This needs more investigation, but apparently a meteorite exploded over Iceland last night. With it being near volcano territory people weren't sure whether it was volcanic/seismic, or a meteorite; perhaps it was both with one affecting the other. One on the ground observer claims to have seen the sky light up and is sure it 'was definitely not from the volcano'.

(the last few tweets are posted as images rather than links because doing so repeats the seismic graph taking up too much space)





This follows the lull in activity at Fagradalsfjall, that soon after started up again:

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