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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 7:58 pm 
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Fourteen reports have already reached the Meteor Section of a Moon-bright fireball spotted from across mainland Britain earlier this evening (Dec 8-9), probably within ten minutes of 17:35 UT. Observations so far have come from places between Somerset and Buckinghamshire in southern England north to Midlothian, Edinburgh and Renfrewshire in central Scotland. It's too early to say where the meteor may have passed, but from the spread of reports alone, somewhere over central Britain seems plausible. Almost everyone so far has commented that the object broke apart in a severe fragmentation event, probably late in its flight.

Anyone else who spotted this fireball, or any others - meteors of magnitude -3 or brighter - from the British Isles or nearby is welcome to send a full report to the Meteor Section as soon as possible. The minimum details I need from you are:

1) Exactly where you were (name of the nearest town or large village and county if in Britain, or your geographic latitude and longitude if elsewhere in the world);

2) The date and timing of the event; and

3) Where the fireball started and ended in the sky, as accurately as possible, or where the first and last points you could see of the trail were if you didn't see the whole flight.

More advice and a fuller set of details to send (including an e-mail report form) are on the "Making and Reporting Fireball Observations" page of the SPA website, at:

http://www.popastro.com/sections/meteor/fireball.htm .

Alastair McBeath,
Meteor Director, Society for Popular Astronomy.
Meteor homepage: http://www.popastro.com/sections/meteor.htm
E-mail: <meteor@popastro.com> (messages under 150 kB in size only, please)


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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 8:20 pm 
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Location: Sheffield (53° 21' N 1° 12' W)
Hi Alastair,
I'm afraid this is not a very good report (wish I had been outside at the time). I was sat in my living room watching TV, from where I was sitting I get a view of around NNW through the window. I saw a bright broken streak travelling very fast in a N to NW direction but it was quite low and coming down at a sharp angle (didn't see any trail but then my eyes weren't dark adapted) and quickly disappeared behind distant houses.
I looked at the clock and it was 17.34 UT.
Sorry I couldn't have been of more help.
All the best.
Dave
PS. If I could have supplied more info I would have sent a proper report in to the section.
Location: Sheffield (53° 21' N 1° 12' W)

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PostPosted: Wed Dec 08, 2010 10:21 pm 
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Location: Middlesbrough, England
Hello,

This is my first post on this forum, but felt you might want my account of the meteor.

About 17:40 (+/_ 5 mins), 08-12-201, I was walking to a meeting at the University in Middlesbrough. I always look up at the sky's whenever I am out and about and tonight was a particularly clear (and cold) evening. Anyway I just so happened to be looking up in the right place at the right time and witnessed a VERY bright meteor heading NE to SW, the comet lasted for 2-3 seconds and had a sparkly tail which looked like it was fragmented (many bits breaking off as it passed through?) before 'exploding' into a few large pieces which burnt out quickly in different directions.

I immediately text my good friend at how lucky I was to witness it, and carried on to my meeting. I have just arrived home and seen on my local forum that others had witnessed it and I found this foum. Please excuse the pretty lame account as I have no expertise in astronomy, just an avid interest in looking up at the skies.

Peace


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:03 am 
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Location: Prescot, UK
Hi there, this is also my first post. I stumbled upon this forum after looking on the internet to see if anyone else had seen what I saw today. Looks like they did!
I've sent an email report but thought I'd post here too, in case anyone else is interested, or if thinks I'll be able to add anything else that I haven't thought of. To be honest it all happened quite fast and there are a few things I wish I'd known to make a note of. I'll know for next time!

Firstly, the object was pretty bright. I was walking to work and it appeared above the house I was walking by. I thought someone had released a firework from behind the house! Especially the way it was fragmenting, it looked like large sparks coming off
I was in Prescot at the time, a small town near Liverpool, and the object appeared to my northeast and moved towards my north over about 3 seconds. It moved very slightly downwards towards the horizen, but I wouldn't want to guess an elevation since I was walking uphill. I'll stop and have a proper look around that road tomorrow and try and get a good estimate.

Regards,
Jamie


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 6:52 am 
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Location: Macclesfield Cheshire
That'll teach me to stay in doors :lol:

It must have been a pretty spectacular. I only heard about it via the Classic FM news bulletin at 6am.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:47 am 
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Location: Brighton
Hi. I spotted this perfectly last night.

I was between Millbrook and Stewartby in Bedfordshire heading approx North when I seen it at 1735 on 08/12/2010.

I was looking up and admiring The Plough when it just appeared slightly below the plough going from right to left (east-west). The time was 1736.

It lasted for about 3 seconds and the tail was very bright and quite some length. Spectacular to see with bits exploding from the tail and the head of it turned an incredible green colour just before it disappeared.

I have enclosed a picture of where I think I seen it. The picture is a stock picture taken from the internet with my dodgy white line drawn in on Photoshop! Sorry!

Image


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:48 am 
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Location: Lancashire
On the Radio, it was described as a "fist-sized" object. How can we tell the difference between a genuine meteor/meteorite and a reentering satellite or rocket component?

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 Post subject: Re-entries
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:09 am 
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Location: 55° 57'N: 03° 08'W
Satellites and rocket-bodies are tracked in orbit, right down to the
point when they are about to re-enter. The predicted path is well known.
The exact point along that track where it will meet its fiery demise is
rather less predictable. However, if a fireball occurs at the time, and along
the track, going in the 'right' direction, then we can be confident that
it was due to the artificial space object. Such re-entries last rather longer
than natural meteors, say 30 seconds versus 3 seconds.
Also satellites in general tend not to be going westwards, since they
either take advantage of the Earth's eastward rotation to supplement
the launcher boost, or go N->S or S->N into order to survey all the Earth
from pole to pole.


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 12:52 pm 
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Location: Walmer, Kent
It would be great if people could check CCTV cameras for the time when the fireball occurred. It could well have been recorded on security video in areas where the meteor was at a low elevation.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:52 pm 
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i too saw this meteor, this is my first post also but as most have agreed, i was too interested as to whether anyone else had seen it as no-one believes me. I can confirm the glowing green colour as that was the first thing i noticed as i first thought it was a firework, but upon looking properly i realised there were bits breaking off it and a trail from it that looked like flames. so obviously not a firework :lol: :roll: i was travelling in a northerly direction and meteor travelled from east to west and lasted all of 3 seconds but was more than enough to play on my mind for the rest of the evening and all today. i was in Lichfield in staffordshire at the time. As i have been so interested in what i saw i have had my eyes peeled on the skys since and caught glimpse of another today at around 15:45, not quite as spectacular and a much greater distance away. i was in walsall in the west midlands and saw the same kind of thing to the south west travelling in a path of north east (straight towards where i was) this seemed to be far more further away than the last one. Glad im not the only person to have saw this yesterday :shock:


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PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:28 pm 
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Thanks everyone for your sightings and comments.

I've had a lot more reports since yesterday, but have still to complete the analysis - hopefully by Saturday, all being well.

I spotted the BBC TV's Newsround Ceefax page also mentioned it (it was BBC1 & BBC2 p.571 when I checked a couple of hours ago), but it didn't say very much.

All further reports gratefully received!

Alastair McBeath,
Meteor Director, Society for Popular Astronomy.
Meteor homepage: http://www.popastro.com/sections/meteor.htm
E-mail: <meteor@popastro.com> (messages under 150 kB in size only, please)


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 Post subject: Fireball 8th December
PostPosted: Thu Dec 09, 2010 10:06 pm 
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I was driving on the A444 one and a half miles going North from Fenny Drayton Leicestershire when I saw, what I thought at the time was a plane on fire, as we are near East Midlands Airport, From my car is was NNE and the tail was bright (red to me though people seem to say green) As it was heading downwards I thought it was going to hit the ground as it was so low when it suddenly exploded. I even phoned the police to check that a plane hadn't crashed as I had never seen one before. Now I know what it is I can it was the most fantastic sight I have ever seen


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:22 pm 
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Location: 55° 57'N: 03° 08'W
Further fireball reports might be received from this source:

http://www.space.com/news/military-sate ... 01210.html


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:16 pm 
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I've analysed the available data from 58 reports on the December 8-9 fireball now. The meteor probably happened within five minutes or so of 17:36 UT that evening.

Places across Britain were treated to a view the event, between Swansea in south Wales, Somerset, Dorset and Berkshire in southern England, north to Renfrewshire, Stirlingshire and Fife in central Scotland, as well as across the country from Anglesey off north Wales to the northeast coast of Norfolk in East Anglia.

While the data did not all confirm a single pattern for where the meteor may have been, there was a high probability it had a generally east to west trajectory above central-northern England. Two early reports suggested it had passed almost overhead from the York-Leeds area of Yorkshire. Further analysis indicated a reasonable probability that the fireball had started somewhere above North Yorkshire, the East Riding, or the North Sea offshore of there, as the first point of a "central line" to this broader area, possibly around 10 km east of Filey near 100 km altitude. The visible end was then plausibly over central-western North Yorkshire, or perhaps the adjacent parts of southern County Durham or northern West Yorkshire around the Leeds-Bradford region, centrally again, possibly above the eastern Pennines around the Lofthouse-Masham Moor area of upper Nidderdale, around 55 km altitude. These central line specific locations were around 54.2° N, 0.1° W to 54.2° N, 1.7° W. Likely errors for the heights were at least +/- 10 km, for points along the central line path +/- ~40 km, and for the geographic coordinates, roughly +/- 0.5°.

This central line is not definitive, merely a best-estimate drawing on what most of the available sightings would at least partly support. However, if we assume it to have been approximately correct, the projected surface path would have been ~105 km long. The fireball's atmospheric trajectory would have been descending at about 23°-24° to the horizontal (or between about 12° to 30° dependent on the error margin), giving an atmospheric path length of ~115 km (or between 108-123 km).

Estimates for the object's visible flight ranged from 1.5 to 10 seconds, according to those who saw all or most of the event, but most (87%), including the few more experienced astronomical observers, favoured a duration of six seconds or less, the majority (68%) between 2 to 4 seconds, with an overall average for all the estimates of 4 seconds. Using this average with the atmospheric path lengths proposed above gives an atmospheric velocity for the meteor, not allowing for deceleration, of ~29 km/sec (error range ~27-31 km/sec), so meteorically slow. This would be consistent with the relatively low start height, as slower meteors tend to ablate lower in the typical ~90-120 km altitude meteor zone.

With this path direction and length, the meteor was likely a sporadic or possibly a late Northern Taurid (recent International Meteor Organization video results have indicated the Northern Taurids probably continue their activity until December 10, rather than ending in late November as we have long supposed). The path direction would have to have been much more northeast to southwest, the estimated velocity somewhat swifter, the path length greater and angled more shallowly to the horizontal for the event to have been a potential Geminid, given that that shower's radiant had barely risen to the northeast when the meteor happened.

Thirty-five observers commented that the object broke apart, probably in a severe fragmentation event quite late in its apparition, producing around 4 to 7 main pieces and likely a lot of smaller sparkling droplets. Seven people suggested the meteor had left a short-lived persistent train for around two seconds, though two people saw no train at all (possibly because of different local observing conditions).

Colours mentioned in the main fireball included white (30%), green and orange (21% each), yellow (19%), blue (7%) and red (2%), while those in the tail or the persistent train (not everyone was clear about the distinction) were orange and blue (29% each), green and yellow (14% each), or red and white (7% each). Nobody in the open air reported hearing any sounds associated with the meteor.

The lack of acoustics and the relatively high end height counted against the possibility of any meteorites having fallen from the event, and increased the difficulty of identifying the more likely fall zone. Any solid objects continuing along the centre line would have splashed-down into the Irish Sea around 20 km offshore of the Barrow coastline of Cumbria. The Irish Sea would have been the more probable fall area overall, or the adjacent lands of the British Isles. No such fall reports consistent with the timing of this event have yet been received, however.

Other links, and any updates that may be possible to this report subsequently, will be found on the SPA's "Recent Fireball Sightings" webpage, at:

http://www.popastro.com/sections/meteor ... htings.htm .

Many thanks to all contributors so far. Any further reports would still be most welcome!

Alastair McBeath,
Meteor Director, Society for Popular Astronomy.
Meteor homepage: http://www.popastro.com/sections/meteor.htm
E-mail: <meteor@popastro.com> (messages under 150 kB in size only, please)


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PostPosted: Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:36 pm 
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Location: Goosnargh, north of Preston, UK
Alastair McBeath wrote:
Many thanks to all contributors so far. Any further reports would still be most welcome!


There's what looks to be a genuine video of this event posted to Youtube by johnnythefixer. The video is taken from a moving vehicle travelling on a bearing of approximately 35 degrees east of north (NNE), along Brookside Avenue, Knotty Ash, Merseyside. The video shows the passage of the meteor from 17:35:09 UT to 17:35:13 UT.

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