Sept 20th Fireball Over the NE

The Northeast US was treated to a doubleheader of rare sky phenomenon this past weekend. On Saturday evening, a NASA rocket launched from Virginia created a spectacular but short-lived “comet”. Later on that night around 12:30 to 1:00 am, a brilliant fireball was observed along the eastern seaboard from New Jersey to Maine. There were even sightings as far inland as the Buffalo area and far eastern Ontario.

Sep20_NE_fireball

The above map plots sightings of the fireball reported to the American Meteor Society’s Fireball page and this blog. The reports are consistent with an object that was at least as bright as the Full Moon and lasted for 3-10 seconds. There were 2 reports of delayed sonic booms, possibly caused by falling meteorites. These reports were relatively close to each in Derry, NH and Westford, MA. The fireball was most likely caused by a small asteroid (maybe a foot or so across) burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Please send any additional reports to the American Meteor Society’s Fireball page.

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

6 Responses to Sept 20th Fireball Over the NE

  1. D says:

    I saw this but are fireballs really just bright white and so perfectly round?

  2. TLSR says:

    I saw this fireball from my east facing apartment in downtown Toronto.

  3. Dawna Godfrey says:

    Last Tuesday, September 22,2009 about 10:00 pm My brother and I were on the balcony of our vacation condo in Ormond Beach , Florida (right on Hwy A1A), and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. A gigantic orange and red fireball fell from the sky with a long bright red streak trailing behind. It was in full veiw for about 4-5 seconds then vanished.
    The edges of the fireball looked metalic and jagged, We assumed it was some soft of space debris falling into the ocean. There was nothing in the paper and no news report about in. I am glad to report it here, as we had no camera, and internet service there. I hoe others saw the same thing we did.

  4. Jen says:

    We saw the fireball over the Atlantic Ocean as well in Jacksonville, Florida. It was beautiful! Weren’t sure what it was🙂

  5. Wulan says:

    I saw that fireball also on end of september 2009 (forget the date) when I was on my way back from Naples to Ft Myer, FL.
    It was a huge fireball. And only last for few second. I was inside my car, and my husband didn`t saw it.
    Its happen so fast, I was shock, and be ready to hear something like “bomb” in second…but nothing happen, that fireball just dissapear. It`s drive me crazy and super currious. But now I am happy, I am not the only one who saw it. I AM NOT CRAZY !!🙂

  6. Elmer Bauers IV says:

    This September 20th fireball in SE PA was quite beautiful and falls right along a line of the other reports. I had two other witnesses as we were pulling into a parking space in front of our apartment, returning from a movie, when it occurred. For a second or two, the night sky looked like the clear blye sky of the middle of the day. It was just a very quick second long flash of blue and white. Perhaps we had only witnessed the tail end of it. I will never forget this event!

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