The past few days have seen a number of fireball reports being left in the comment sections from all over the world.
There does not appear to be anything in common between these sighting. Though fireballs are uncommon, they are not rare. If you spend enough time staring at the sky at night, you’re bound to see a spectacular one. As the Taurid meteor shower builds in intensity over the next month or two, many more fireballs should be seen.
Below is a quick summary of what was seen. All of the fireballs were caused by “space debris”, whether rocks or man-made, burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere at heights of 80-100 kilometers (50-60 miles).
Sept 25 – West Virginia
An orange/yellow fireball was sighted near Wheeling, West Virginia at 2 am EDT on Sept 25. The report was submitted by Courtney.
Sept 25 – Illinois/Ohio
Later the same morning at ~6:20 am EDT, Linda reported a fireball seen in Wapakoneta and St. Marys, Ohio. The multi-colored (white/yellow/orange) fireball traveled from the northeast towards the northwest and burned out (or terminated) overhead.
A posting to the ‘meteorobs‘ mailing list reports a probable sighting of this same meteor at ~5:30 CDT from Chicago, Illinois. Al Degutis saw a bright, slow-moving meteor move from just north of overhead to the eastern horizon. The time, direction of travel, and distance between Chicago and Ohio sightings suggest that this is the same object. A map of the 3 sightings is included below. Due to the difference in 3 hours, this fireball is not the same as the Wheeling meteor mentioned above.
Sighting of the Sept 25 fireball over Illinois and Ohio. Sighting are denoted by the red stars.
Sept 25 – France/ Isle of Wight
Two reports from France and the Isle of Wight may be sightings of the same fireball. Sally Isaacs saw a fireball from the Isle of Wight at 10:15 GMT on the evening of Sept 25. One hour into a flight from Birmingham, UK to Milan, Italy, Lucy sighted a fireball moving from north to south. No time was given for this sighting but the circumstances are close enough that the same object may have been seen.
Sept 25 – Louisiana
M Davey of Baton Rogue and Lisa Marie from southern Louisiana both saw a fireball over Louisiana at 11 pm CDT on Sept 25. Lisa Marie reported that other sighting were made offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. It was described as green-blue and moving East to West. At least one bright flare was reported.
Sept 26 – near Heathrow, England
Tim Allen, an Airbus A320 pilot, saw a nice fireball trailing sparks as he was heading into Heathrow airport at 10:30 pm GMT on Sept 26. The fireball moved from the northwest to the southeast.
Sept 26 – Florida
Bryan Tippetts reported a fireball over Tampa, Florida at 8:10 pm EDT on Sept 26. The fireball was seen in the eastern sky moving from north to south.
Sept 26 – Australia
Though there are were no reports of this fireball submitted to this blog, a posting on the Seesat-L (satellite watchers) mailing list states that many people witnessed a spectacular fragmenting fireball over Adelaide in South Australia. The event happened at 00:17 local time on Sept 26.
In this case, it was the re-entry and breakup of a Russian rocket upper stage which had launched 3 Glonass satellites a few days earlier. Glonass is the Russian equivalent of the American Global Positioning System (GPS) system.
Thanks again for all of the reports and keep them coming.