Giant Fireball Lights Up Night Sky as Meteors Shower October Sky
Hundreds of people reported seeing a fireball streak through the night sky Tuesday night just ahead of peak times to see two meteor showers this month.
Screenshot of a video of the fireball caught from UTSC Observatory in Toronto, Canada.University of Toronto Scarborough Observatory
As of this writing, the American Meteor Society (AMS) received more than 700 reports about the event seen over the eastern Great Lakes region.
The fireball was seen primarily from Ontario but witnesses from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, Washington DC, Michigan, West Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts, Virginia and Québec also reported the event.
Witnesses Location and First Estimated TrajectoryAmerican Meteor Society
Initially, some in the Toronto area were worried that it may have been a plane crashing out of the sky. Toronto police and fire services told AMS they received multiple calls about a "plane crashing into the Toronto Harbour." Thankfully, that wasn't the case.
For some, the streak of bright light across the sky was accompanied by a sonic boom, according to The Washington Post. The hashtags #meteor and #fireball spread on Twitter, and the University of Toronto Scarborough Observatory posted a video of the fireball:
A timelapse showing the view from #UTSC during the last 40 minutes. https://t.co/9gDPnlDwsD— UTSC Observatory (@UTSC Observatory)1475637053.0
Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society, told the Washington Post that the fact that so many people reported the fireball makes it one of the "top 10 events of the year."
"What struck me is that people from Canada to Southern Maryland saw it," Hankey said. "That means it was pretty bright."
While AMS has yet to say what the fireball was, Hankey said the most likely scenario is that it was an asteroid or a piece of a comet that may potentially end up as meteorites on the ground, which makes sense considering we are in a month where a major meteor shower, the Orionids, is taking place all month long.
Earth is currently passing through the tail of debris left behind by Halley's Comet—which happens twice a year—making the Orionids visible through Nov. 7 with maximum activity on Oct. 22, according to AMS.
At the shower's peak, stargazers could see up between 10 and 20 meteors per hour, according to EarthSky. The best time to try to get out and seen them is during the moonless predawn hours. Unfortunately, the moon is not cooperating this year with the peak time to see the meteors. The full moon comes on Oct. 15 and it will be Hunter's Moon, the first of this year's three supermoons, which will hinder visibility around the peak date. So EarthSky recommends you start watching now to try catch a peek of an Orionid meteor or two.
At the same time the Orionids are in our orbit, the Draconids will also be visible, from Oct. 5-8, in the northern region of the sky.
Look for the waxing crescent moon near the planet Mars as darkness fall on October 7, 2016.EarthSky
The projected number of meteors during the Draconid meteor shower is around 10-20 fireballs per hour, and can easily be spotted without a telescope, according to Nature World News. Unlike the Orionids, EarthSky recommends heading out earlier to watch the Draconids, just as nighttime falls in the early evening. While most meteor showers are best after midnight, this one is not. The peak night to watch is Oct. 7, so grab a blanket, find a nice dark area, lie down and face north.
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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