reply to post by Rodinus
It appears that I missed your thread first time round, but better late than never I suppose.
It's a good series of questions that you posted, and most if not all the answers to it are on ATS already, although they are scattered around.
As a few have said already on this thread, meteors (and indeed fireballs) are common if you take the time to observe the sky for them. Most people
don't put in the time required, and if you don't, you usually don't get to see them unless you happen to get lucky.
1. I don't know exactly what it is about the USA, but since I became interested in the subject about 15 years ago I've noticed that the USA seems to
get more than it's fair share of big fireball and meteors sightings. It may well be due to a combination of factors such as:
Large continental land mass that means cloud free skies are more likely.
Historically it's the birth place of meteor-observing, so there is a large sub-culture (compared to other parts of the world) of meteor-observers,
and also people who are generally into astronomy.
Well established communication and news networks, meaning a better chance of hearing about events.
And lastly, it has a population that seems to be more dis-trusting of their government than any other part of the world. This means more people that
are conspiracy minded, so more people that are willing to question events that might seem normal to people in other parts of the world... so when
something "strange" like a fireball happens, it's more likely to get posted.
2. After the Russian fireball, there were numerous reports of fireballs that turned out to be other phenomena - mostly high altitude aircraft that had
sun-lit contrails. So yes, people were looking for fireballs/meteors more, and in some cases misidentifying other phenomena. You are right also that
some see meteors/fireballs and are unable to identify them.
3. (you didn't number you last question) As someone who does not reside in the USA, and constantly searches the internet for meteor and fireball
observations, I constantly
come across events that are not posted on ATS. I do post the more notable events here of they have not already been
posted, but if I was to post every single fireball
report that I came across, I'd be posting at least one or two times a day!
Keep in mind that most fireballs and meteors are not reported
mainly because most of Earth's surface area is ocean, or sparsely
populated/unpopulated, and also because of cloud or daylight, or people being tucked-up in bed. Also, some people simply don't bother reporting
events even if they know that there are places where they can be reported.
Also keep in mind that people are getting better at reporting these events. When I first became interested in the subject, I didn't see as many
reports as I do now, and many of the big events did not reach mainstream media (although they may have made local news) due to there being no footage.
Without footage, they are not "news-worthy". We have many more cameras today that are pointed at the sky than 15, 10, or even 5 years ago, so more
events are being caught on camera, making them news-worthy.
Despite this, ATS picks up many more events than the MSM in my experience, partly since we have members all over the world, and it seems to be
increasing probably as much due to growing interest in this type of event as it is due to ATS's ever growing membership. This could easily have the
effect of making people who were previously not on ATS think that there are more fireballs around since you are more lightly to hear about fireball
reports on ATS than you would if you were not on ATS.
Whilst there might be a small up-kick in activity of this nature, it would be impossible to tell without properly collected data. The jury is still
out on this possibility as I posted here