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    Sep 2004
    South Carolina

    Question Mysteries in Astronomy (my short list)

    Since high school I've been reading about strange events that occurred on Earth and in space that were never completely resolved. I wasn't much into UFO or hysterical stuff. Real mysteries with some hard evidence were best.

    Here was my short list of 25 weirdest things. NOTE: Some have been resolved in the last 2 years, more on those soon. NOTE: I had a few other mysteries, but some of those were solved a few years ago (like the WOW! signal).


    1. 1490 A.D.: What happened during the so-called Ch'ing-yang event, which Chinese historical records say was a fall of rocks from the sky that killed 10,000 people? Was it a giant meteor airburst or impact?

    2. 774-775 A.D.: What caused the superabundance of carbon-14 detected in ice cores and tree rings worldwide? Did the Sun erupt?

    3. August 7, 1921: What was the bright object briefly seen near the Sun by multiple reputable observers worldwide, now called the Mysterious Lick Object of 1921? If it was a comet, why was it not seen before or after this time?

    4. 1650+: What causes the transient lunar phenomena around the crater Aristarchus (lights, reddish glows, radiation) detected by many observers over the centuries since 1650 (Hevelius), lately including robot spacecraft and Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins?

    5. March 5, 2011: What causes the long-term, irregular variability in the light we receive from KIC 8462852, a.k.a. Tabby's Star?

    6. July 2007: Did a comet or meteor airburst over North America produce the Younger Dryas cold period, 12,900 years ago, killing off the woolly mammoths and damaging the human Clovis culture of that time?

    7. February 9, 1913: What was the true nature of the "Freight Train" meteor procession seen over the Western Hemisphere this night? How were these objects able to maintain such a tight aerial formation?

    8. May 12, 2017: What produces the weird radio signals recently detected from the nearby red dwarf Ross 128?

    9. August 12-13, 1883: Did Mexican astronomer José A. y Bonilla observe a giant comet pass by us, so close that it nearly hit us? If so, why was the comet otherwise unreported?

    10. Sept 3, 2002: What is object J002E3, discovered orbiting Earth but now in solar orbit? Is it an Apollo-Saturn artifact or something else?

    11. April 2016: Is there a little asteroid, tentatively named S509356, going around Earth in a 30000 x 152000 km x 48 degree orbit? If so, why have we not detected it before now?

    12. Sept 1, 1859: With the 1859 Carrington event in mind (and Mystery #2), could our sun one day soon release a flare so large it could destroy our civilization?

    13. July 29, 1953: Is there a gigantic "natural bridge" on the Moon in Mare Crisium, as reported by multiple observers worldwide, or is it just an illusion? If it is an illusion, what creates the effect?

    14. November 1998: Why did no astronomer or historian document a historically recent supernova, the remnants of which we now call "Vela Jr.", that appears to have exploded during the Middle Ages about 1200-1300 A.D.? Is Vela Jr., much older than initially thought? Is it possible the supernova was seen by civilized humans and documented somewhere?

    15. April 9, 1984: What created the giant mushroom cloud sighted by three airliners in 1984 over the Sea of Japan? Was it an airburst from a large meteor?

    16. 1979-1980: How was the kinky, spiral-braided F Ring of Saturn created, and what forces or bodies maintain its twisted shape?

    17. May 2008: What kind of object is the bizarre "planet" Fomalhaut b, a.k.a. Dagon? What is its true orbit, or is it merely "passing through" the system?

    18. February 18, 1930: Is there a ninth planet in solar orbit beyond Neptune, out in the Kuiper Belt or Scattered Disk, whose existence was implied by orbital irregularities found in 2016? Do other planets exist in the Oort Cloud? Why were previous searches for "Planet X" (after Pluto's 1930 discovery) unsuccessful?

    19. c.4 B.C.: What was the Star of Bethlehem, reported in the Bible in the gospel of St. Matthew? Did it even exist?

    20. June 30, 1908: What caused the 1908 Tunguska aerial explosion over Siberia? Why was so little material from the airburst recovered despite severe damage to the ground environment?

    21. October 28, 1937: Why do we keep failing to detect significant asteroid flybys until the objects are right upon us or have passed Earth by, from asteroid (69230) Hermes until this day?

    22. 1821: What is the peculiar body orbiting Almaaz (epsilon Aurigae) that eclipses the yellow supergiant every 27 years? Also, how large is Almaaz and how far away is it, and why it is so difficult to discover these things even using the best technology we have?

    23. 1975: Does the Black Hole Information Loss Paradox, as laid out by Stephen Hawking, actually violate the laws of physics as we know them?

    24. 1961: Do Kordylewski dust clouds exist at the Earth-Moon L4 and L5 Lagrange points? Are these a transient phenomenon, vanishing and reappearing over time, explaining why some observers see them and others do not? Can the clouds be photographed, as Kordylewski claimed he did in 1961?

    25. Why does the sun-grazing asteroid (3200) Phaethon sometimes act like a comet? Is it in fact not an asteroid but a dead comet nucleus? Also, what is (3200) Phaethon's astronomical history, given its odd activity and association with many other small bodies?

    26. August 15, 1977: What was the "WOW!" signal picked up by Ohio State radio astronomers at the 21 cm line?
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2018-Nov-15 at 03:12 PM. Reason: added #26
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

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