a reply to: slider1982
Aside from white, green is probably the most commonly seen colour in meteors/fireballs, particularly the faster ones. This is because, as the
meteoroid slams into air molecules, it ionizes them, creating a glowing plasma that is mostly composed of ionized air molecules, although ionized
material from the object itself also contributes (small amounts in most cases) to the plasma. Oxygen, as it happens, if it is ionized with enough
energy (a faster object for instance) glows an intense green (the "OIII forbidden line"), and the faster the object is moving the more air molecules
it hits, including oxygen. It also turns out that Oxygen is prevalent at the high altitudes at which meteors first become visible (around 100km
altitude), where as this is not the case closer to the ground. Nitrogen (which glows red when ionized) becomes more prevalent lower down.
So this may suggest the meteoroid entered the atmosphere at a low angle, only grazing the edge/top of the atmosphere. They are quite rare (and a real
treat to see), but earthgrazing meteors (as they are called) do occur from time to time.
Their characteristics include:
Longer path and they last longer than their high-angle of entry counter parts, since in the thinner air high up they are not ablated/"burnt up" as
They tend to stay green for longer.
They sometimes appear to travel parallel relative to the horizon, but not always.
As TheLead mentioned, the Quadrantid meteor shower is a real possibility since it peaked on the night of the 3rd/4th, but it would be hard to say for
sure with out much more info and some detective work. One characteristic of the Quadrantids is that they are some of the fastest meteors. Most bright
fireballs tend to be much slower, and not part of any meteor shower. Do some observing under a dark sky and you'll soon get a feel for different
Reentering objects (usually 1min + to cross the entire sky from horizon to horizon) tend to be much slower than natural meteors, and whilst it's
possible you might have caught a small bit of junk reentering, there are no real current candidates for satellites or large bits of junk, although
there is a very slim possibility it might have been Iridium 34 reentering a bit early:
Did you see any fragmentation/sparks? Was it very slow?
The other thing about meteors (and anything bright in a dark sky) is that our brains interpret bright things as being close (dim suggests far) in the
absence of other visual cues. The result is an optical illusion, and bright meteors/fireballs are often described as being much closer than they
actually were (read a few fireball reports). I've experienced this first hand on multiple occasions, and the effect is dramatic!