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Just saw a unique "fireball" - looking for info, if any

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posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 07:18 PM
Nope, there is no video or photos. My darlin' and I were outside and saw a fairly slow, very bright meteorite? fireball? something? Edit to add the time of the sighting........ this would've been 8:15 EST.

I saw it first: It orginated from just to the NE of the moon and streaked down past the Big Dipper. I pointed and made some silly noise when I saw it, and my wife saw from the middle to the end. It was like a standard meteorite whitish, only seemed to be moving somewhat slower than the usual "streaks" one sees.

Just before it crossed the Dipper, it flared very bright, looking bluish, then orange and blue, and it broke into at least four large pieces and many smaller ones and flared out. I would guess its magnitude at brightest point when it burst at about -5 or more (based on hundreds of ISS views and knowing the magnitude of them).

Both of us were very still, waiting to hear if there was a sound from it after it flared out. I counted seconds in case there was a sound. Neither of us heard anything.

I strongly don't believe it was fireworks -- anything that close would've been visible as an arc and we'd have heard it, however fireworks is a very small possibility. Total duration of siting was probably about two seconds.

It reminded me of the Earthgrazers -- the early meteorites that preceed the peak of the Leonids, that are slow and close and often colorful, and that's probably what it was -- a late piece of something big enough to burst into pieces. It would've burst over the ocean, if that was the case. I know that with the ISS, when you first see it, it can be thousands of miles away. This would've been due north of us, so a Cuban landfall would be possible, or Cuban waters.

Anyway, just wanted to make a note, in case anyone has knowledge of spacejunk re-entry or anything otherwise interesting.

Thanks for your time and input!

[edit on 30/11/09 by argentus]

posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 07:21 PM
reply to post by argentus

I've never seen space junk that I know of but I did see a very nice fireball some time ago. The fireball was pretty fast. I understand that space junk is quite a bit slower.

Any way you could compare the speed to an ISS pass?

posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 08:03 PM
I was going to suggest that you witnessed an Iridium flare, until you mentioned it broke into 4 pieces. I agree it could have been space junk burning on re-entry.

You can search your coordinates and relative time sequences here:

Iridium flare info:

posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 08:10 PM
reply to post by Phage

That's an excellent question Phage, because it causes me to place it within context of something I'm familiar with.

I characterized it as somewhat slower that regular meteorites, but when I think of it as an ISS-like thing, it actually was probably much faster than how I perceive an ISS pass, as it probably covered 1/4 of the sky in two seconds. More like an Earthgrazer, although we didn't see any "contrail" as one often does with the Earthgrazers.

Edit to add: Makes sense that spacejunk reentering would be very slow, especially if tumbling. Probably just your standard absolutely beautiful walnut-sized metorite that just happened to break up. I've never seen that. If not for the break-up, it wouldn't have been SO exceptional. Probably happens a lot more than I know.

[edit on 30/11/09 by argentus]

posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 08:18 PM
reply to post by SlinkyDFW

Thank you Slinky! That was the first thing we did when we came back inside, was to go onto and look for satellite passes. There was a Genesis around that time (about 20-30 minutes later, as I recall), however in a more Easterly sector of the sky, and much, much dimmer magnitude -- I think it was a 3.0.

Definately not an irridium flare. This was long and with duration..... maybe 50 degrees across the sky. Good thought, though.

posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 08:18 PM
Phage is quite correct of course.

If you are familiar with the speed at which the ISS crosses the sky, then you should have a good idea of what it was yourself. Much faster and it was almost certainly not a re-entry. The time scale you describe would also fit better with a natural meteor. A re-entry is usually quite a drawn out event.

I would say from your description that it was likely a small asteroid. Breaking up in the way you describe is usually associated with harder objects - asteroids rather than cometary material. Asteroidal material also tends to have lower entry velocity.

The following links have some good FAQs on the subject and even fireball report forms if you would like to report the event:

Must have been some sight to see

You might also be interested in some recent events that have had threads discussing them here on ATS:
South Africa Nov. 21 - Another big fireball/meteor (w/video footage)
Midwest megameteor makes media madness
Great Western Fireball
Green Fire Ball flies across the Calgary morning sky (3/29/09)
Fireball and flash in the sky alarms Utahns
Indonesian Super-Bolide Explosion ( why wasn't this on the news?)
Did anyone see what dropped out of the sky in northern ca. 5pmish 11-7-9
Asteroid explosion over Indonesia raises fears about Earth's defences
UFO crash in Russia last week
Fireball over Holland(w/ pic!)
Breaking: UFO in Northern Germany

posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 08:33 PM
reply to post by C.H.U.D.

Thanks much CHUD! I'll report it to the AMS as soon as their reporting form is re-enabled. (temporarily down). you'd think skywatchers as us would already be acquainted with both those organizations, but we're not, so thanks!

Yep, it was really something, although nothing like some of the reports you linked that talk about "lighting up the night sky" or "blindingly bright". Nothing like that, but it was very bright, beautiful, and a first-time for both of us to see something break up in the sky. I'm very glad it wasn't a failed satellite or anything. (at least, I think we can assume it wasn't that).

It was kinda funny........ we've been having the usual seasonal outages with our sat. TV. I asked my wife what she thought it was. She said, "Prolly sat. 119 biting the dust."

p.s., thanks for taking all the time to compile those links!

[edit on 30/11/09 by argentus]

posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 08:34 PM

Originally posted by argentus
although we didn't see any "contrail" as one often does with the Earthgrazers.

A "train" or "persistent train" is not a prerequisite of meteors, although brighter/faster meteors are more likely to produce them than slow meteors that are not too bright. Meteors like Leonids are at the higher end of the speed range (72 km/s), and bright Leonids nearly always leave at least short-lived trains (edit: or "wakes" if they are under a second).

More reading on the subject here: Abstract

[edit on 30-11-2009 by C.H.U.D.]

posted on Nov, 30 2009 @ 09:37 PM
reply to post by argentus

My pleasure argentus. This is what keeps me around on ATS

The links were already pretty much compiled, as I've been adding to the list along the way. I posted them all (a complete list since the start of the year) in the most recent thread at the top of the list. They are pretty much all in chronological order.

As I think you found out, meteors certainly don't have to be blindingly bright in order to be captivating! One of the reasons myself and others like to observe them is that they are all unique, and no two meteors are ever quite the same. With so many variations in characteristics, and combinations possible, observing meteors only ever gets dull when there are few meteor around!

Actually it's not a bad thing for the junk to come down, since it's more dangerous to us in general up there... or more of a growing problem for us I should say!

Be sure and check the Geminids meteor shower which peaks in just under 2 weeks time - the night of Sunday 13th/Monday 14th (unfortunately for those who have to work) to be precise, but the night before should be pretty good too. I'll be starting a thread within the next week or so here if no one else beats me to it!

[edit on 30-11-2009 by C.H.U.D.]

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