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Sky & Telescope News Bulletin - July 3, 1998

JULY 3, 1998



No news is definitely *not* good news for handlers of the Solar and
Heliospheric Observatory, which has been incommunicado since June 25th.
Mission engineers suspect that the spacecraft began slowly spinning such that
its solar panels were no longer exposed much to sunlight, which caused the
spacecraft to lose power. However, there is some hope that in a few weeks the
craft's orbital motion around the Sun will change this geometry and allow
enough sunlight on the panels to charge SOHO's batteries. In the meantime, a
joint NASA/ESA inquiry board has been formed to review the incident. More
information, images, and status reports can be found at


We've received word that on June 20th a hefty meteorite fell about 100 km from
the city of Tashauz in Turkmenistan. According to scientist Seid
Muhamednazarov, the daylight fall was preceded by a dazzling orange bolide
that left a train of black smoke as it moved northeast across the sky. The
projectile broke into at least three pieces before impact, and the largest
fragment created a small crater about 6 meters wide and 4 deep. At its bottom
a recovery team found a cone-shaped stony iron meteorite weighing between 300
and 500 kg.


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