It fell from the sky…

Walking my cat around 11.10pm CDT, there was an incredibly bright flash that cast stark, sharp shadows, a bluey-white, like lightning, which made me do a double take because the sky had been clear a second ago. I looked up, there was a plane south, perhaps southwest, and just off to the right of it, I saw a blue trail about 1 degree long fro south to southwest, dissapearing about 3-10 degrees removed from the plane, and immediately thought “wow, a meteorite”.

But it had been a pretty darn bright flash, and I looked up at the plane, actually wondering for a second if something had been fired at it.

The reason I was skeptical wasn’t terror, but because I’ve seen meteorites in roughly the same area of the sky on a few occasions now. The first one was about … maybe a year ago, and it broke up into a variety of colours and for a moment I thought it was a firework.

Google map of the area

So is there any particular reason we’d see these so much more often than I used to in England? I used to look for them back then! We’re under one of the landing path’s of the shuttles, maybe other stuff, could it be detritus from launches or stuff orbiting or do you just get more debris falling to earth at these lattitudes?

19 Comments

Growing up in Texas I’d say I averaged about 1 meteorite a year (when I started noticing them). I don’t know why they’d be less frequent in England, though. Perhaps it’s just that where I grew up (near San Antonio) was flat land and clear skies. Only a couple times did I see any that were spectacular. When my parents were young they were at a drive-in (East Texas) when one hit several miles away. They said it was like daylight for a second.

Texas is located near the equator so it possible that more parts from rockets go down in this area?

Sounds very interesting – have never seen a meteorite myself, but hear on the news about nearby strikes every now and then (1/year?). I’m a bit closer (27.4 S) to the Equator compared to Bedford (39.2 N).

A work colleague found what looks a lot like a meteorite near Mt Isa (big mining town in western Queensland). It is ~8 cm long, dark brown, dense and has fairly smooth concave sides, possibly due to ablation at high heat. We plan to analyse its metallic composition soon (which should be related to the colour seen, btw).

(From a highly suspect, but nevertheless entertaining site)
The reentry of man-made orbital objects creates luminous trails which are not strictly the same as meteors. Meteoroids (the celestial objects whose atmospheric reentry creates meteors) are usually very small, having the mass of a grain of sand. They are traveling at very high velocities, typically about 20 kilometers per second. Their reentry creates an atmospheric shock wave that produces a luminous plasma field which is nominally 50 meters in diameter. Manmade reentry objects have velocities less than 8 kilometers per second and produce somewhat less visible paths, consisting of a smaller luminous mantle, requiring a much greater mass to achieve the same apparent brightness. The physics of the reentry at these lower velocities are somewhat different than those of meteorites. Meteoroids which survive reentry to reach the earth’s surface are called meteorites.

Just goes to show you that even aliens want to throw rocks at Texans.

WWIIOnline is an obstacle in their plan of world domination in the future, so they try to hit the rat hq with rocks. ;-)

It may sound crazy but it may have been the ISS passing by. At night it casts a reflection from the Sun to Earth that is reported to be extremely bright but it’s not very big. Maybe you got extremely lucky by being in the right place at the right time.

It had a bright trail, which was fading just as I looked up at it – I don’t think the ISS would have a trail like that :)

So, are the rest of you guys saying that you don’t see meteorites (or meteoroids, which I was using interchangably), often? Maybe there *is* something uncommon about that part of the world.

You’ve seen War of the Worlds haven’t you? …this is just the beginning. Somebody call Tom Cruise!

I actually saw the flash last night through my window except it was north west. Bluish White light very bright almost like burning magnesium?

I’ve seen satellite flairs and that wasn’t a satellite flare. Given our different perspectives it actually rules out satellite flair. I was thinking Firework myself since it was coming in through the tree branches. If you ever get out into the country away from all the light pollution, you can actually see the Milky Way. You’ll see more meteors 1 every 10-20 minutes. They usually have the orange-red glow from the iron ions. The leonid showers are coming up still several months away.

Cool, Breed, can you post a link to a google map of your zipcode or town? It was definitely westerly from my viewpoint, and I’d say southwest but that road could turn enough that I was already facing sw, and the thing I saw was to my right about 10-15 degrees.

When I saw the trail, the trail wasn’t moving – I should have mentioned that, it simply dissipated in-place – I had the aircraft there for reference. I wondered if it had been a firework, but the flash from it was far too bright, and there was no accompanying sound.

Out of curiosity – to get a sense of distance and angles, did you see the trail? And if so, did you see an aircraft anywhere in the same vicinity?

I used to ‘meteor spot’ quite a lot back home, or at least look at the sky hoping to see them, and I’d see a few shooting stars, maybe one every 6-12 months, but very clearly in the upper atmosphere and not incredibly bright.

The first one I saw like this was a goot 12-18 months ago, I happened to be looking up and it flared up right infront of me, and then broke up into several smaller trails which each flared different colors – green, yellow and a bluish white one.

I would suggest that what you saw was a bolide, albeit at the very small end of the spectrum. The flash was the explosion, the trail was a large remnant from the explosion.

I saw one many years ago when driving home at night with my father: a similar bright flash lit up the landscape like daylight and then looking up I saw a brief trail of something burning up.

See how this works. Sitting at home now. Almost a striaght NW and 15-20 degrees up from the horizon. I saw only the flash through the neighbors trees.

I’m a little further east. If it hadn’t had been so bright I wouldn’t have looked up.

It was definitely a meteorite.

We had a company party around midnight last Saturday (I work at a movie theater, it had to be after close: KFS1, I work at the Tinseltown in Grapevine…familiar?). The meteorite went east to west over the airport (lol), it kind of looked like fireworks or something, but then it faded out. Thought maybe it was an aeronautical flare, but since the flash didn’t last more than a couple seconds, I figured it was a meteorite.

Also, we are no longer under the shuttle’s re-entry path. Since the Columbia accident, the shuttle’s flight path has been reconfigured so if it’s landing at Cape Canaveral, it’ll fly in over Mexico/the Carribbien…no clue why (got a cousin that works at NASA in Houston…we look for him in the big room every time they show it on TV).

Somebody got it on video and it’s now up on Drudge.

http://www.local6.com/news/9628604/detail.html

You do see meteorites over the UK, but due to light pollution they tend to seem less prominent, though I think that one above was a little larger than average…

HOT DAMN! That’s sweet!

You see how it has those tails that sort of break off and just sort of ‘stand’ in the sky behind it? I think what I saw was one of those, with that final flare being hidden behind the aircraft I mentioned.

Kinda weird that we all saw that.

You guys are kinda near Bedford. You wanna come over to Bennigans here one Friday? I promise not to mention politics ;)

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