Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fireball meteor seen in Mississippi and Alabama

Tonight Cindy and I saw our first fireball meteor. It looked really close and fell vertical or maybe with a slight angle but it disappeared into the trees right in front of us as we were driving home at about 9:40 pm central standard time. We couldn't help but drive down the road a bit to see if we could see a rock in the road but no luck. I couldn't wait to get online and post the sighting at the American Meteor Society web site. As soon as I posted it I looked to see if anybody else had seen it. I was amazed that 2 people in Alabama had seen it 220 miles away. They were about 72 miles from each other. Amazingly our 3 tracks triangulated near Guntersville Alabama 267 miles from where we saw the meteor. I guess my neighbors are safe, but if you live near Guntersville be on the look out for odd black rocks in your yard. If you find anything please contact me.

Here is an update. I decided to check other sightings around the US at the same time period and found a near match sighting in Livermore California. The azimuth was off by 4 degrees and it was 15 minutes later than my report. I'll call that a match sighting. The magnitude as seen in California was -11 and what we saw in Mississippi and Alabama was a -5. That is about the same as Venus at -5. It's brite enough to cast a shadow. By the way this was apparently a bolide meteor that fragmented as reported in Decatur and in Odenville Alabama. We did not see the fragmentation because it probably happened after it disappeared behind some trees.