September 23, 2008 50 Comments
Another round of fireball reports was submitted to this blog last night. Three fireballs were observed over England, Scotland and Ireland during the evenings of Sept 20 & 22.
The first fireball was seen at 23:16 BST on Sept 20 from Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK. Marlow is located ~50km or 30 miles west of London. A detailed description can be found at the Wycombe Astronomical Society. It was described as a white slow-moving meteor with a brightness of -3 magnitudes (between the brightness of Jupiter and Venus). This looks like a natural meteor caused by a meteoroid. It is possible that it a piece of a re-entering satellite. Thanks to Ed Davies for calling attention to this sighting.
The second fireball was reported by Lucy from East Mersea in southeast England. She reported a fireball with 4 components around 8:30 PM on Sept 22. The description seems to suggest a fireball which has broken up. It could be either a natural meteor or a re-entering piece of man-made space junk.
The third fireball also occurred during the evening of Sept 22 at 9:30-9:40 PM. Largo (Hamilton, just outside of Glasgow in southwest Scotland) and Debbie (Islandmagee, County Antrim, Northern Ireland) both described a fireball moving from East to West. It was multi-colored with a tail. The East to West motion probably rules out a re-entering satellite so this one looks to be a natural meteor caused by a meteoroid or small asteroid.
A third report of this fireball has been submitted by Chris Day of Accrington, England. He described a white/yellow fireball which latest for at least 6 seconds. It moved from the West to the East before setting behind trees and buildings.
With 3 fireball sightings from the British Isles and the Sept 19th fireball over southern California, I’m sure everyone is wondering what’s going on?
Though very bright fireballs, such as the southern CA one, are rare, they occur nightly somewhere in the world. We don’t read much about them because they are usually missed. Most of the world is covered by oceans, or cloudy, or uninhabited, so we only hear of bright fireballs occurring over major population centers. Secondly, meteors with brightnesses comparable to the brightest planets, such as the Marlow meteor, probably occur nightly for any observer willing to spend all night staring at the sky. Since we are only outside and looking up for a fraction of the night we miss most of these as well.
There are many rare sights in the sky. But the more time you spend looking up, the more likely you are to see some of them.
Thanks again to everyone who submitted reports of fireballs. Keep sending them in.