100 full moons: Blazing fireball lights up Arctic sky

In this March 17, 2013 file photo, the Aurora Borealis bright up the sky at twilight between the towns of Are and Ostersund, Sweden. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND
Updated 18 November 2017

100 full moons: Blazing fireball lights up Arctic sky

COPENHAGEN, Denmark: A blazing fireball lit up the dark skies of Arctic Finland for five seconds, giving off what scientists said was “the glow of 100 full moons” and igniting hurried attempts to find the reported meteorite.
Finnish experts were scrambling to calculate its trajectory and find where it landed, according to Tomas Kohout of the University of Helsinki’s physics department, who said Thursday night’s fireball “seems to have been one of the brightest ones.”
It produced a blast wave that felt like an explosion about 6:40 p.m. and could also be seen in northern Norway and in Russia’s Kola peninsula, he told The Associated Press on Saturday.
It might have weighed about 100 kilograms (220 pounds), according to Nikolai Kruglikov of Yekaterinburg’s Urals Federal University.
“We believe it didn’t disintegrate but reached a remote corner of Finland,” Kohout said, adding that any search plans for the meteorite must face the fact that “right now we don’t have much daylight” — four hours, to be precise.
The Norwegian meteorite network said the fireball “had the glow of 100 full moons” and likely was going northeast, perhaps “to the Norwegian peninsula of Varanger,” north of where the borders of Russia, Finland and Norway meet.
Kohout said scientists looked forward to any space debris they can get their hands on.
“We are happy to recover (it) since this is a unique opportunity to get otherwise inaccessible space material,” said Kohout. “This is why it’s worth it to search for them.”
Viktor Troshenkov of the Russian Academy of Sciences told the Tass news agency that the fireball could be part of a prolific meteor shower known as the Leonids, which peaks at this time of year. He said he felt Thursday’s fireball likely wasn’t the sole meteorite but others maybe were not seen due to thick clouds elsewhere.
Troshenkov told Tass that meteor showers can be even stronger. The Leonids reach their maximum once every 33 years — and the last time that happened was in 1998, he said. Amateur astronomers in the Arctic then saw about 1,000 meteors, 40 meteorites and one fireball in just one night.
In 2013, a meteorite streaked across the Russian sky and exploded over the Ural Mountains with the power of an atomic bomb, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring about 1,100 people. Many were cut by flying glass as they flocked to windows, curious about what had produced such a blinding flash of light.
The 2013 Chelyabinsk meteorite was estimated to be about 10 tons when it entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a hypersonic speed of at least 54,000 kph (33,000 mph). It shattered into pieces about 30-50 kilometers (18-32 miles) above the ground but some meteorite chunks were found in a Russian lake.
A meteoroid is smaller than a kilometer (0.62 mile), and often so small that when it enters the Earth’s atmosphere it vaporizes and never reaches the ground. A meteor is a flash of light caused by a meteoroid that fails to get through the Earth’s atmosphere. If part of it does survive, that’s called a meteorite.
Asteroids are generally larger chunks of rock that come from the asteroid belt located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

The hottest video games still to come in 2018

There are many upcoming video game releases for the year. (Shutterstock)
Updated 57 sec ago

The hottest video games still to come in 2018

DUBAI: From outlaw cowboys to secret agents via purple dragons, here are the videogame releases to get excited about in the rest of the year

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4
Developer: Treyarch
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Released: October 12

By the time you read this, “Black Ops 4” will likely already be flying off the shelves. The 15-year-old “COD” first-person-shooter series has consistently sold big —  2015’s “Black Ops 3” reportedly pulled in $550 million in its first three days —  and this year’s release, set in the near future, will be no exception, even if Treyarch has dumped the popular offline campaign story mode in favor of a new ‘Battle Royale’ mode (a salute to the runaway success of “Fortnite”) with an ever-shrinking map. There are 10 specialist classes for players to choose from, and the popular ‘Zombies’ mode will also be returning.

Red Dead Redemption 2
Developer: Rockstar Studios
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One
Released: October 26

An epic open-world Western adventure with a nod to the huge popularity of TV series “Westworld,” Rockstar’s follow-up to the wildly successful original “RDR” (2010) is actually a prequel to that game, with our ‘hero,’ the outlaw Arthur Morgan, working for the villainous Dutch, leader of the notorious Van der Linde gang. Set in 1899, the game atmospherically explores the end of the Wild West age of the gunslinger, with the industrialized metropolis of Saint Denis interrupting your rides through the stunningly visualized wilderness. As before, the game’s honor system means the storyline changes based on how you choose to interact with other characters (whose intentions are often far from noble), but for many players the real joy will come in exploring the vast landscapes on offer, from snow-covered mountains to the alligator-infested swamps of the bayou.

Spyro Reignited Trilogy
Developer: Toys for Bob
Platforms: PS4, Xbox one
Released: November 13

Retro gaming is big business right now, both in terms of consoles and franchises. Sony has already enjoyed the revival of Crash Bandicoot, and now another character from the Nineties is reborn in this rebuild of the first three games in the Spyro series, which sees the titular purple dragon star in a gorgeous-looking, easy-to-pick-up but hard-to-put-down 3D-platformer. The visual tweaks —  as you’d expect 20 years on —  make the whole thing way more immersive, but previews suggest the developers have gone way beyond a simple graphic makeover —  the dragons’ personalities are now distinctive and well-realized, and the whole game is full of character.

Fallout 76
Developer: Bethesda
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Released: November 14

The ninth game in the “Fallout” series is a prequel to it all. It’s also Bethesda’s first foray into online multiplayer gaming (you can play this sprawling shared-world survival game alone or with up to three companions). The in-game world —  Appalachia —  is, the studio claims, four times bigger than that of “Fallout 4.” Naturally, the game is set in the post-apocalyptic mid-last-century setting as the rest of the series, following the (nuclear) conclusion to the fictional Great War. This time round, though, you’ll be able to take on the mutated beasts of the wasteland and explore the available resources (including nuclear missiles) with some friends. Or not.

Just Cause 4
Developer: Avalanche Studios
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Released: December 4

Covert CIA operative Rico Rodriguez returns for another action-packed installment of the popular third-person action series “Just Cause.” This time around, though, Rodriguez isn’t just battling the bad guys. In the latest setting —  the fictional South American state Solis —  developers Avalanche have reportedly introduced a new enemy: the weather. Extreme events including hurricanes and giant twisters will make your firefights even more chaotic.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Developers: Bandai Namco & Sora
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Released: December 7

Dropping just in time for the holidays, this crossover fighting game will reportedly —  in a licensing nightmare for Nintendo —  include every single playable character from the series’ storied history. So, Pac-Man can now take on Pichu, as well as ever-presents constants like Mario and Link. Newcomers include Princess Daisy, Ridley from “Metroid,” and King K. Rool from “Donkey Kong.” Switch owners should prepare to lose several weeks of their lives to button-mashing combat over the New Year.

Hunt: Showdown
Developer: Crytek
Platforms: Xbox One, PC
Released: TBC

There’s a lot of people hoping Crytek meet their proposed 2018 release date for this online multiplayer first-person survival game. And with good reason. The footage so far released looks amazing, with a genuinely creepy, olde-worlde atmosphere, full of grime and ghouls. You (and a teammate) will hunt down otherworldly monsters in a dingy, swampy setting. Kill a boss, and you might reap the rewards. But the moment you vanquish your enemy, the map shows all the other players where you are, and then you become the hunted as they try to grab your bounty before you can escape. It’s a great idea —  one that should make the game endlessly fun to play.

A Plague Tale: Innocence
Developer: Asobo Studio
Platforms: PS4, Xbox One, PC
Released: TBC

This stealthy action-adventure centers on two orphans, Amica and her young brother Hugo, and their struggle to survive during the Hundred Years’ War between France and England. The player controls Amica, and you have to sneak around (or use your slingshot to take down) soldiers of the fanatical Inquisition. They’re not the main danger though. That’s the rats. Big rats. Really big. And supernatural. Big enough to eat a human in a few seconds. Fortunately, you can scare them off using light and fire. But they’ll be back.