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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:26 pm 
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Date/Time: 15 Jan 2008 10.57GMT
Location: 52deg 49m N 02deg 02m W

A huge fireball passed from a point half way between Sirius and Procyon, towards Alph Hya.

It had a large head which burned white blue and green and trailed a thick white tail about 2 degrees long. It was fairly slow and was visible for about 3 seconds. There was no afterglow.

This was the biggest and most spectacular fireball that I have ever seen over many decades of observing.
Any other observations?

Lawrie


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 15, 2008 11:38 pm 
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Location: Herts
Hi Lawrie,

I didn't personally see it, but there's been a similar report on the UKAI forum by Roger Brooker:

Quote:
At 22:57 tonight just a few mins ago i was setting up as we had a clear spell but the clouds ahve rolled in again. I was looking S/W at about 20-25 degrees something flared up & seemed to break into a couple of pieces I have never seen anything so bright apart from the Moon & the Sun. It left a green/reddish trail.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 16, 2008 7:17 pm 
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Anyone else who spotted this fireball (or indeed any others; a fireball is a meteor that reaches at least magnitude -3), is welcome to send me a report as soon as possible The minimum details I need are:

1) Exactly where you were (name of nearest town or large village, plus latitude and longitude ideally);

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 are outlined on the "Fireball Observing" page of the SPA website, at:

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

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


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:48 am 
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hi all

i witnessed this too!

i was inside watching tv with the lights on, but this was bright enough to catch mine and my girlfriends attention out of my patio window,
we didnt see it start but saw the end of it.
i agree it was brightest thing other than moon/sun i've seen altho i'm relatively new to this astronomy lark!! ;0)
as i didnt know at the time what i'd seen i didnt note exact time, but i know it was between 10.45 and 11.15.
The position in the sky also matches above the above post.

i live in dursley 51° 40' 2° 20'

a friend of mine who lives the other side of town (about 2 miles away) also saw this when he was outside having a crafty ciggie!!
he said he thought it had a green tint to it, although i didnt notice this, to me it just looked bright white!


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:02 am 
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The current tally of sightings of this event stands at six, scattered across south Wales and southern England. Details are still sketchy, but the early reports suggest the meteor was possibly heading roughly west to east high over southern England, perhaps near or off the south coast. More precise sky-positions may enable a better trajectory to be estimated, so any additional reports should be sent in without delay, please!

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


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:20 am 
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Location: Macclesfield Cheshire
Does any one know what the differance is between a "Fire Ball" and "Space Junk"

I ask this question because. It has occured to me that, there are spent rocket stages, and other hardware in earth orbit. Are we seeing a large meteor, or a piece of Space Junk re-entering the atmosphere and burning up.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 11:57 am 
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PaulB:

Natural meteoric fireballs tend to be relatively fast, whereas space junk re-entering the atmosphere in a fireball tends to be very much slower. In general, it's extremely rare for a natural fireball to last more than a few seconds, in exceptional cases a few tens of seconds. Space junk fireballs tend to last for a minute or more. This is purely a velocity difference. Natural meteors have a range of velocities near the Earth of between 11-72 km/sec. Anything man-made in near-Earth orbit is nowhere near that swift. We have difficulties giving spaceprobes enough energy to reach even into the kilometres per second range from rocket launchers, let alone anything as fast (relatively for a meteor, extremely slow!) as 11 km/sec.

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


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 12:43 pm 
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Thank you Alastair.

It was something which has been at the back of my mind for a ages.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 11:05 am 
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With reports from ten places in on the ~22:57 UT fireball on January 15-16 now, from across southern England (Dorset east to Kent, and north as far as Gloucestershire), plus Newport in Wales, I've carried out a detailed review of the information available so far.

This suggests the meteor flew on a generally southwest to northeast trajectory from over the Channel north of the Cotentin Peninsula of France (perhaps somewhere on a line from Cherbourg to Bournemouth), ending above western West Sussex or SE Hampshire. The start is poorly-constrained, but the end may have been at ~50-60 km altitude. It almost certainly passed directly over the Isle of Wight. Solving for the various possible solutions suggested an entry-angle of between ~15-25 degrees from the horizontal, an atmospheric path length of ~85 to 135 km, and, from the average estimated full visible flight duration of ~4 seconds, a range of mean atmospheric velocities (not allowing for deceleration) of ~20-35 km/sec, in the "slow" to "medium" meteor speed categories.

Half the witnesses reported the object broke apart into several fragments (somewhere between two to six main pieces), while the majority favoured a green or blue colour for the main body. If any meteorites fell as a result of this event, projecting on from the possible trajectories could imply landing zones in Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk or the North Sea off East Anglia, at maximum, or perhaps points adjacent but southwest of these places.

All further sightings of this or other fireballs would be most welcome still!

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


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