Feb 15 Texas Daylight Fireball
February 16, 2009 7 Comments
A follow-on post with additional information about meteorites produced by this fireball can be found at: “Meteorites Found From Last Friday’s Texan Daylight Fireball“.
A rare daytime fireball was seen streaking through the sky over Texas around ~11:00 am CST on Sunday, February 15. The fireball was captured by a News 8 Austin news crew who were covering a marathon. The video can be seen here. A video with poorer quality can be found on Youtube.
Amy from Denton, TX sent in a report to this blog.
This morning around 11am while driving south into Denton, TX I saw a large flame moving very quickly across the sky at a downward slope. No smoke, no obvious chemical trail, and then it disappeared. I haven’t been able to find any reports on the news.
There has been lots of speculation about what caused this fireball. Early reports from the news media and some government agencies explained the fireball as a result of the recent collision between 2 satellites, Cosmos-2251 and Iridium-33. Though it is possible that the fireball was caused by a piece of a re-entering satellite or rocket it was not a product of the recent satellite collision. Those pieces will remain in orbit for many years, with some estimates saying a thousand years.
According to Spaceweather.com, Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office believes the fireball was created by a small asteroid about 1 meter in diameter moving at ~20 km/s.
Could the minor Delta Leonid meteor shower be the cause of the recent batch of fireballs? Roberto Haver submitted a report to the meteorobs mailing list of multiple fireballs detected by an all-sky camera over Italy. The 6-7 fireballs all appear to share a common radiant near the opposition or antihelion part of the sky (directly opposite the Sun). This is near the currently active Delta Leonid radiant which may have produced significant fireball activity during the Middle Ages (AD 1043-1073). One of the recent Italian fireballs was estimated to be a very bright magnitude -16 to -17. That’s much brighter than the Full Moon though still much fainter than the Sun. An image of this fireball can be seen here.