A Bolt of Light

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An amatuer astronomeur in CA says he captured images showing a "glowing purple rope of light" striking the Columbia seven minutes before it broke apart, reports the SF Chronicle. (Link via Ken Layne.) No word yet from NASA, which is examining the photos, on what it might mean (or whether it's a big fat hoax, camera fluke, etc).

Fascinating stuff, but I'm also linking it because of a funny contradiction. The writer notes that "NASA's zeal to examine the photo demonstrates the lengths at which the agency is going to tap the resources of ordinary Americans in solving the puzzle," but then goes on to mention that the photographer "had not had any success in reaching NASA through its published telephone hot lines." He eventually got in touch with Nasa through a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend kind of thing after the "ordinary American" method failed him.

Sucker punches aside, if the guy's photos do yield any new information, it says something pretty awesome about the here and now that a toolshed astronomer could give the National Space Administration a major lead.

NEXT: ATF Junior

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  1. I remember watching the NASA press conference with my father when I first heard about the amateur astronomer seeing debris. They rather quickly wrote it off as “plasma”. I told him that it seemed suspicious to me, and that I thought it was more than just burning fuel. He didn’t take me seriously. Feels good to be right sometimes.

  2. It’s tha ALIENS! I seen ’em!

  3. Thanks for linking that, Sara! There’s more in today’s Chronicle: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2003/02/06/CAMERA.TMP

  4. Amateur astronomers have most of the apeture. Also, you can’t get a grant approved to point the Hubble at the shuttle landing. But an ameteur might be able to justify a vacation day for it. It’s really a golden age for the toolshed astronomer, with scopes getting less expensive, mounts easier to use, cameras, … except for all the “light polution”.

  5. I think I saw an al-Qaeda operative on a flying carpet…or maybe it was a flying goat, I’m not sure.

  6. Scott – I think it was a combination of the two: an Al Qaeda operative on the back of a goat riding a flying carpet.

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