Feb 13th Kentucky Fireball

[Latest Update: 2009 Feb 17 5:00pm MST]

Reports have been coming in about a large bright fireball centered over Kentucky. Additional sightings have been made in Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee. Interestingly, a sighting of a fireball was made in Ontario, Canada at nearly the same time. This sighting is probably too far away to be the same object and was probably of a different but still spectacular fireball.

Please submit any additional sightings to this blog. If you want to submit an official report send it to the Fireball Report Page of the American Meteor Society at http://www.amsmeteors.org/fireball/report.html

kentucky_fireball_200902142

Map of reported sightings of the Feb 13 Kentucky fireball. Reports from this blog, Spaceweather.com and the American Meteor Society. Map created with Google Earth.

The fireball was seen some time between 9:50 and 10:15 pm on the evening of Feb 13. It has been described as being blue, green, orange and white. It is easily possible that the fireball changed color as it flew through the upper atmosphere. Many people in Kentucky reported a sonic boom that shook homes. The sound was created by the small asteroid or satellite that created the fireball as it traveled through the atmosphere. At that time the fireball was probably located 20-50 miles up.

Some sources are stating that this fireball was likely caused by debris from 2 satellites that collided a few days ago. This includes an official statement from the Federal Aviation Administration via the Jackson, Kentucky office of the National Weather Service. This is unlikely. Though the satellite collision did create hundreds of pieces, these pieces are still located in orbit 450-480 miles (750-800 kilometers) up. It will take many years (some estimates say thousands of years) for these pieces to decay (fall) into the atmosphere.

Regular readers of this blog will notice that bright fireballs happen quite often. An exploding satellite is not needed to explain the number of recent fireball sightings. Unfortunately, every meteor and fireball seen for the next few weeks will probably be blamed as part of the Cosmos-2251 and Iridium-33 collision.

A great report of the fireball was sent in by Jim Storm, an amateur astronomer and ex-President of the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois:

I witnessed a fireball over Ky on Friday, Feb. 12th, at approximately 9 pm, CST. My wife and I were driving into Owensboro, KY, heading east, when the meteor fell. It literally appeared to drop out of the sky from about 45 degrees, and appeared to burn out at about 15 degrees. It was falling fairly straight, and pretty quick. The whole event lasted around 2 seconds. I did note persistent training. Owensboro is about 200 miles west of London, but due to the time, it was probably the same meteor. I have seen incoming satellite debris, and this fireball was moving much faster, more like a typical meteor. It was a bright, blue-green, and, even though we observed it through a windshield and the light pollution of a fairly large city, I would estimate it’s magnitude at least -6 or -7.

Some other comments submitted to this blog about Friday night’s fireball display.

From R. Farmer in Lenoir City, KY:

I live in Lenoir City Tennessee. My mother in law called me and said that she saw an orange ball falling from the sky. She said it looked like a ball of fire. What do you think? fireball? meteor? We are located in east Tennessee. It happened on 2-13-09 at about 10:15pm.

From C. Zierden in Loveland, Ohio:

I live in Loveland ,Ohio and saw the biggest blue, green object fall last night approx. 10:00pm 2-13-09 . The color was different from any falling star I had ever seen. It was larger than any I had seen before. my family all think I’m seeing things, I was so sure of what I had seen I was wanting to run across to the next street to see if anyone else had seen it. We are located southwest Ohio, outside of Cincinnati.

From Joel in Peebles, Ohio:

Feb 13 about 10 pm or so I saw a fireball in the southeastern sky over Peebles, Ohio. Saw it for about 3 seconds and it was bright orange and super close and fast then it disappeared for a second the reappeared and was lime green colored with a long tail till it disappeared.

From Nikki and Angie in Ashland, KY:

We were in Ashland, KY Feb 13, about 10:00 pm we were headed west, in the sky we saw a “fireball” that was green and glowing moving very fast across the sky. It looked like a shooting star, however, it was very large with a long glowing tail. It was brighter & lasted longer than any shooting star that I have ever seen. It almost looked like an aircraft crashing, but it faded while still high in the sky. It was very similar to what Joel describes.

From Lisa in Huntington, WV:

My husband and I both saw this “fireball” We saw it around 10 as well and we are not far from you in Huntington, WV. This was not a planet as far as I can tell from what I have been reading. I wonder if it was part of one of the satellites that had collided and was burning through our atmosphere. Any ideas from anyone else. It was beautiful, colorful and HUGE.

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About Carl Hergenrother
I am a professional astronomer specializing in the study of comets, asteroids and meteors. This blog will focus on my professional and amateur work in this field

53 Responses to Feb 13th Kentucky Fireball

  1. SMRBAD says:

    I was taking my dog outside sometime between 10-1030pm, Feb 13, 2009. It was a very starry night and I was looking up at the stars. I suddenly saw a bright orange/red round object, appeared to be on fire, streaking across the sky. My first thought was that it was a meteorite. I have never seen anything like it before. It had a long firey tail trailing behind it. I live in Pickerington and saw this in the sky to the south/south-west. It streaked in a downward motion and at about a 30-45 degree angle. It appeared to disappear as it reached about housetop level.

    I was just looking online to see if anyone else had seen something like this. I saw something about 2 satellites colliding in outerspace and people in Texas had reported seeing similar things. Could what I saw have been parts of the satellite???

  2. DHill says:

    We were by the lodge at Dale Hollow lake on Friday Feb 13 outside on the deck in the hot tub at Boo’s landing. Suddenly there was a flash in the sky, the whole place lit up like a tractor trailer was shining bright lights directly at us. The lights were bue, green, orange and white. We were all stunned, scared, it was like pandalerium! What a night . . .

  3. yamil salim says:

    hey people , we saw a fireball here in guatemala between 5 and half and 6 pm, january 15, with the same kind of descriptions on what texans saw today!

  4. yamil salim says:

    february 15 , sorry, my bad.

  5. Quinn says:

    I saw this around 10:00 on Friday. I live in Louisville and I saw it from inside my house. It looked like a green ball that shot across the sky. I went outside and my 2 neighbors standing outside saw it as well!

  6. K Coffers says:

    My husband saw it Morgantown, WV on Feb. 13 around 10:20 pm. He said it startled him becasue it appeared very close to earth as if it would hit ground. Quite impressive!

  7. Reva says:

    Charleston, TN I saw it from my lazy boy. At first I thought someone down the road had shot off a flare. It traveled from right to left across my window and disappeared over the ridge. I should probably have made a wish instead of running down the road in my pajamas yelling “Ya’ll OK?, Ya’ll OK?”

  8. jstorm says:

    I witnessed a fireball over Ky on Friday, Feb. 12th, at approximately 9 pm, CST. My wife and I were driving into Owensboro, KY, heading east, when the meteor fell. It literally appeared to drop out of the sky from about 45 degrees, and appeared to burn out at about 15 degrees. It was falling fairly straight, and pretty quick. The whole event lasted around 2 seconds. I did note persistent training. Owensboro is about 200 miles west of London, but due to the time, it was probably the same meteor. I have seen incoming satellite debris, and this fireball was moving much faster, more like a typical meteor. It was a bright, blue-green, and, even though we observed it through a windshield and the light pollution of a fairly large city, I would estimate it’s magnitude at least -6 or -7. I am an amateur astronomer, and former president of the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois.

  9. Corrina says:

    Here in Texas they stated that they cannot find any debris but we had some around the Dallas area as well??

    The sky is falling.

    http://www.khou.com/topstories/stories/khou090215_ks_fireball-satelite.1c318fe4.html

  10. jstorm says:

    I am sorry, but my previous post should have read:

    Friday, Feb. 13th…

  11. Tammy says:

    I saw it also, It was Friday night around 10:00pm Knoxville, TN I was on my way back home from the store and saw a ball of blueish greenish with a tail falling from the sky. I kept looking to see if I saw anything else but didn’t. I came home and told my boyfriend. Don’t know if he believed me or not but I am glad to know I am not crazy.

  12. Selbie Shane says:

    I was at a campfire on Feb. Friday the 13Th.
    In the Joppa/Rutledge TN. area. Apx. 22 miles N.E. of Knoxville. Around 10 pm. I was standing there looking to the sky. Thinking things, people think while around a campfire looking to the sky. And there it was. Immediately in front of me! I can’t remember if it was small and got bigger, or if it was BIG and got BIGGER. But I have seen the space shuttle depart,and land. And either way it was larger then anything I have every seen in the sky,PERIOD! The clouds were thick. And the light was neon green here. It was so big and moving so fast,instead of telling others at the campfire to look up! All I could do was brace the table in front of me and prepare for the impact. I thought there could seriously be an enormous aftershock. There is absolutely no way this thing burned up before hitting land. Now reading how far away others have reported seeing it. I am in awe and almost obsessed! Especially after seeing the Video of the Austin TX. Sighting more then 24 hours later, but coming down at the same 45%angle. And basicly the same size of the fireball we saw here. BEYOND CURIOUS!

  13. cher says:

    I live in Southwest Virginia. Right on the border with Tenn. and Ky. I saw it too. I thought the neighbors were shooting roman candles but realized that it was too high for that. It was Feb. 13 between 10 and 11 pm. No one really believed me so while I was researching I found this site. yippee, I’m not crazy :)

  14. Judy O'Brien says:

    We’re in south bloomingville, ohio(southeastern ohio) and saw the fireball(?) it was in the south going west bound!!! What an awesome sight to see.

  15. Kathy says:

    It seems there may have been more than one fireball in KY. I live in Rockfied just west of Bowling Green. I was walking my dogs Saturday morning at about 5:45 AM and saw a ball of fire in the western sky. I didn’t hear anything myself but I believe the dogs did because my dogs and all the neighbors dogs started barking. The fireball I saw was bright orange. I haven’t heard anyone else mention seeing anything however there probably aren’t a lot of people out at that time on a Saturday morning.

  16. Kathy says:

    I should have added that it was the morning of 2-14-09.

  17. andrew says:

    I saw a bright green “shooting star” around that time on Friday night in Memphis. It lasted long enough for me to see it, register what I saw, point it out to my neighbor, and it was still burning long enough for HIM to see it.

    It started in the south, about 40 degrees up, and streaked towards the southwest until it died about 20 degrees above the horizon.

  18. Sherry says:

    I live in Scott County, Tennessee. Friday night I witnessed a larger than normal meteor falling through the night sky. It was a greenish glowing color. It happened so quick that no one else with me had a chance to turn and see it.

  19. Kevin says:

    I was staying in a cabin in the mountains overlooking Pigeon Forge ,TN and caught a glance of a greenish blue fireball on friday Feb 13th around 10- 10:15 PM It was very large , unlike the typical “shooting stars” you frequently see everywhere. It created a “wooshing” sound also. I did not know what to think of it, but I’m glad I was not seeing things.

  20. Nina Overbeek says:

    I was on vacation in Knoxville, TN on Friday, February 13th. I was outside sitting at a fire with some friends (it was around 10 p.m.) and I happen to look up and see a blue/green fireball falling through the sky. My seven year old son saw it too, but no one else did. Of course no one believed me but now I know that I was not the only one to see it.

  21. Ruth says:

    My husband saw it too on Friday night while outside at Bardstown, Ky, around 10:15. How many of these things fell?

  22. Jerry says:

    I was driving down hwy 30 witch joins Jackson Co and Laurel Co…it was id say about 10:30…when all the sudden it..was like daylight outside and then a big boom. i was very scared had no clue what had just happend, although i did not see it falling out of the sky i heard the boom and seen it light the sky up.

  23. Jerry says:

    I was driving down hwy 30 in Kentucky witch joins Jackson Co and Laurel Co…it was id say about 10:30…when all the sudden it..was like daylight outside and then a big boom. i was very scared had no clue what had just happend, although i did not see it falling out of the sky i heard the boom and seen it light the sky up.

  24. Cameron says:

    On Friday February 13th at around 10 PM we saw this thing. I was visiting The Smokey Mountains in Gatlinburg but we went to Pigeon Forge to try to find another couple that was staying at a cabin with us. While driving my cousin’s husband and I saw a blue looking ball of fire fly though the sky. We were both like “what in the f#*k was that?” My wife and my cousin were in the back seat and they did not see it. The first thing that they said was that we were just drunk (which we were). When we got back to the cabin we told all of the other couples what we had seen and they also said that we were just drunk (which we were). But I am glad to know that we were not the only ones to see this thing. There is something falling from the sky and I am afraid that if it is debris from satellites we may be seeing this sort of thing for weeks. I just hope no one gets hurt.

  25. Dale Blakely says:

    I live in Kingsport, Tennessee (northeast corner, a few miles from Virginia). I was walking the dogs Friday night at about 10:00 and saw what looked like a white Roman candle flare coming straight down off to the west. I saw it through thin clouds. It would be easier for me to believe tht it was falling space debris than a meteor.

  26. ladylorien says:

    Friday night ……about 10ish…..was in the backyard watching the kids skate on a ramp . The fireball was very bright green ….and BIG!! went so fast noone saw it but me:( We are in wilmington ohio….southern ohio.

  27. Eman says:

    Great that there were so many observers but to be scientifically useful we need two more bits of information. The observer’s location: street and town and state or, road/route intersection or, GPS fix, AND direction compass azimuth or cardnial direction (e.g NNW, N, SE, SSW etc.) If you only have brief info I can still use town,state and direction from you to the fireball.

    Other bits which would help: if you heard a sonic boom , the height in the sky where you saw and lost the fireball; Given in degrees measured or estimated: 90 is overhead and 0 is level. ( NOTE: seated in a car is typically 15-30 degrees) Finally, the 4 letter station identifier for your nearest TV station which has a weather radar–we’ve reason to believe some radars may have picked up the meteor’s ionic train.

    I am plotting observations now and welcome direct emails with your data.

    Please put this in your subject line: KY Fireball State, Town
    rush to: if you haven’t made a formal fireball report please go to:

    And fill out as much data as you can remember.

    Many Thanks,
    Eman

    • Tammy says:

      I was coming north on James White Pkwy to Anita Drive/Sevier Avenue from Moody Avenue in (South) Knoxville TN I was driving in my car and the fireball was slightly above eye level (45degrees possibly) slightly to right. Did not hear anything. The TV stations WBIR, WVLT, looking at the fireball the ball part was heading downward (sw)on my left and the tail on the(NE) my original post is number 11

  28. Gary O'Brien says:

    South Bloomingville, Ohio 43152
    Saw fireball toward the south starting at about 25 degrees above horizon, heading west and descending.

    No sonic boom heard. Not sure of any local TV stations in the area.

    Only appeared white in color.

  29. Brian says:

    Thank you for this blog. I was near Pickerington, Ohio, Friday night and saw this happen. Very cool indeed and I”m glad others got to experience it too!

  30. Brian says:

    I was driving on Hwy. 60 headed east about 4 miles East of Cloverport Kentucky on my way home to Hardinsburg. The fireball / metor dropped strait down out of the North East sky. It looked like a giant roman candle ball with a small tail. It lasted about 2 or 3 seconds and was Blue-Green in color. It just burned out at about 40 degrees in the sky. It was very cool to see and I have never seen anything like it in the night sky. I looked over at my wife who was in the passenger seat and asked her if she had seen it. She did and we were both to suprised by it to even tell the kids to look.

    Thanks for having this site to share this type of information.

  31. Brian says:

    I forgot to mention that it was on Friday the 13th around 9:00pm Central time.

  32. Megan says:

    Megan
    I live in North Pole, Alaska. I was up late on Feb 17th (1:30am)…which would technically be early Feb 18th.
    I like to look at the stars when I’m up alone and it is a clear night. I gazed up at what I thought was the moon because it was big, bright, stationary, and round. After awhile, I thought to myself…..that’s odd I don’t remember being able to view the moon from this window??
    Suddenly the object took off leaving a straight trail of blue green light headed downwards. The trail of light stayed in the sky for about 6-7 minutes. I’ve never seen anything like this. I have lived in Alaska for most of my life and I know what the Northern Lights are, and how they play across the sky. This was NOT the Northern Lights. I was hoping someone else noticed this too, and would have the same description…..

  33. Carney says:

    My wife and I both saw the fireball around 9:10 Nashville time. It came from behind me as I was driving to Gallatin from Hendersonville, TN. It definitely was not a shooting star. I had never seen anything like it. When it came across the sky, we we talking on our cell phones, and we both said; “did you see that”? It was amazing.

  34. Summers says:

    I saw a fireball fall from the sky around 10:00 pm EST from Warren, IN 46792. All local TV stations are in Fort Wayne, IN. WANE is one of them.

    It was partly cloudy here, but I could see it just above the horizon in the southwestern sky. It was large and looked to be a bluish color. It didn’t look like a shooting star and I have also never seen anything like it. It only lasted for about 1 or 2 seconds. I did not hear anything from here either.

  35. Summers says:

    Forgot to mention the date, it was Feb. 13, 2009.

  36. jimmy says:

    I live in Manchester, TN and at about 9:00 p.m. central time I was looking out toward the North, when I suddenly saw a bluish green ball of light with a long white tail traveling downward from northeast to northwest about 60 degrees. It lasted for about 4 seconds. It was about half as large as the moon, and seemed to move much slower than a shooting star. It disappeared before it reached the horizon. I immediately drew it in my sketch book and labeled it as comet lulin, although I now know it was something else. In 44 years, I have never seen anything in the sky of this size. It was more comparable to the moon and sun than a star. I am glad to know that it was seen by others.

  37. jimmy says:

    oh, yeah, it was february 13

  38. Jeff says:

    I live in Grafton, WV. I was glad to see this site, because I saw it, too. I was in my living room sitting on the couch with the blinds open and was startled to see it. I did not notice the time, but would imagine that it was sometime after 10:00 PM. What was so amazing to me was how close it appeared, how bright it was and how fast it came down. It looked like it was huge. I had seen a “shooting star” before, but it was so small and appeared so distant and was not nearly as bright.

  39. Tammy says:

    See my original post #11 and my reply for info # 28

  40. Meir Ganon says:

    While sitting in my back yard Friday night March 6, at about 11:00 pm. There was a huge burning ball traveling from the north/northwest to the east. Anyone have any ideas? Looked like abig burning metior.

  41. dink burns says:

    I was leaving my mother and father-n laws about 10:05 on feb 13 gettin ready 2 get in the car when the night become day ,i looked up and seen a beautiful green comet with long tail fly across the sky ,nobody believed me,but my daughter.

  42. Tommy says:

    I was leaving my brother in laws house in Blueridge S.C. at12:30 am on 6-20-09 . when this large green ball of fire came streaking across the sky. It was amazing, its the second one i have ever seen. I seen one about ten years earlier in Lyman S.C.

  43. yanyan villanueva says:

    my husband and i were on our way home last june 28 at around 11: 30 pm. we were riding our scooter when we saw this very huge fire ball.. it’s blue green with long tail dropping north and was dropping very fast, it disappeared after 2 to 3 seconds… we’ve waited for any breaking news the next day, but we didn’t hear anything on the news about what we saw that night.. it left us clueless of what we’ve witnessed…

  44. Morgan says:

    I live in Binghamton, NY and while waiting for my boyfriend in my car last night I saw what I thought was a shooting star, until I noticed it was glowing green and getting larger while gaining speed. It vanished behind trees and houses and I was never able to quite figure out what it was…

  45. Kristy says:

    I live in the Kendall area of Miami, Florida. On 10/25/09 sometime between 10 and 11:30 pm, my better half and I were soaking in an outdoor hot tub and watching the stars when I noticed a bluish white ball of fire streak across the sky from left to right. It was pretty far away and extremely fast but undoubtedly not a shooting star, an aircraft or anything I’ve ever seen before. Again tonight (11/18/09), around 9 pm, I had just gotten out of my car and started to head toward my house when I saw a similar ball of fire only this time much closer and brighter. It looked as though it might have been as close as a few blocks away. The light became visible somewhere in the middle of the sky and instead of moving from left to right, this time it streaked straight down like a tumbling aircraft but disappeared before leaving the line of sight I had just over the roof of my house. The ball seemed to be mostly white with a ring of what looked like blue fire near the bottom of it as it fell. The whole thing on both ocassions only lasted for 2-3 seconds. If only things like that didn’t happen so quickly, I might have a better idea of what it is that I keep seeing. Glad I found this site though…makes me feel a little less crazy!

  46. z1 inspector says:

    On early thanksgiving morning approx 1:45am i seen what appeard to be a falling burning object just NW of the I75/galbrith rd exit(mile marker 10).from Heartwell ,it looked like it fell just north of compton rd as you head west up compton hill from springfield pike. MAN i swear it was close and fell strait down.blue/green on the bottom side the rest was white with a white tail.dont know who to tell,so ill just submit it here.
    probably a metiorite.
    HOWEVER 2008 much farther NW of the same location ,my friend and i observed somthing different /somthing opposite of this (a few back to back shooting UPWARDS /5 maybe ,like fireworks but way bigger/ seconds apart,again dont know who to tell. comments welcome.z1inspector at aol

  47. Beth Forrest says:

    My sister and I saw a fireball on Friday, November 27 while we were driving home from the coliseum. Neither one of us could believe what we were seeing. It was this huge fiery ball with tints of blue and green. It was so much bigger than when you see a normal falling star. It was amazing. I have been trying to see if anyone else here in Greensboro, NC happened to see the same thing.

  48. Joe Bernardi says:

    My family and I were driving home from Florida to New York on Friday November 27. It was approximately 8:30-9:00 pm and we were in North Carolina on Route 95 when my wife and I saw this amazing, large fireball that looked to have a long blue tail heading east to west in the distance. Approximately 1/2 hour later we saw another similar sight as we were entering the tip of Virginia. We thought the first one might be some kind of Fireworks display-I don’t know who would be shooting fireworks over I -95 but after seeing the second one we knew it was not fireworks.

  49. Richard says:

    Theses times when I can’t sleep and early this morning was one of them. At 1 am I was walking in front of laymans fabricating and welding when everything lit up and as I looked up into the early morning sky I seen a small green light go into the alley behind the building ( needless to say if you’ve even been behind the building at night it’s not well lite up) my heart stoped for a second asy mind tryed to think of what else it could be besides what my mind was telling me, a meteor, comet, figment of my imagination?? Than all of a sudden the light flew back up flew than hovered over the sb church than flew straight up.
    I’m still trying to doubt myself so if there’s was anything that was suppos to happen lastnight or early this morning can you tell me?
    I’ve looked everywhere and can’t find anything.
    Thank you

  50. Rick Gilbert says:

    I think I found the meteorite you guys saw.. I live in kingsport tn and found this thing july 2009. It is a chondrite which consist of a grey rock and iron. It impacted the highway and left a good size pothole. It fragmented into several peices. I found five with a total weight of about 40 to 50 pounds. It came in from the west and slightly north. I traced its trajectory and found additional fragmentation in a park about a quarter mile away. It now has a home in my flower bed but is for sale if anyone is interested…

  51. Eliseo I says:

    I live in central connecticut, and i’m always stairing at the night sky when i step out to have a cigg. and around 10-10:10pm i look to my left thenn saw a bright whiteish orange and hits of blue and green. it was one of the most amazing things i’ve ever see in my life. the funny thing is i thought i was seeing things beacuse i had to shots of vodka. then i thought about it just now, did anyone else see the same thing, and whala, i see these reports. if any one else from CT seen this it will be cool to see a post…

  52. Christopher says:

    I was searching to see if anyone else saw what I saw early this morning. A fireball light up the sky on Saturday, November, 27th, 2010 @ 2:10am. I just happened to look up and caught something streaking across the sky. It had a long trail mostly orange(ish) and what looked like sparks and peices of fire. An object lead the way which looked twice the size of the trail in circumfrance and was very bright maybe orange/white/blueish. The thing is, it’s movement was parallel to the horizon (left to right) Not from top to bottom, and did not appear to be moving much faster than a plane would be. The trail was pretty long and there was a very bright flash of blue/white then it was gone. It looked exactly like a plane exploding. It appeared to be out over the gulf of Mexico. From my location (Parrish, FL. United States; south of Tampa) it was at 215 degrees S.W. with an elevation of approximately 40 degrees. I have NEVER seen anything like it in 36 years and I watch the night sky almost every night. I have seen meteors and shooting stars. They move extremely fast. This (thing) did not. I was just hoping that somebody, somewhere, saw it too. I even called a couple local news stations to see if anyone else had reported it. Well, happy sky watching. :o)

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