Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

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RJN
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Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:32 am

Did you see this bright meteor?

Place: Somewhere over the United Kingdom
Time: 2011 December 8; about 5:35 pm GMT

Please help our Fireball48 network obtain as much information as possible about a new bright meteor. If you saw this bright meteor, please respond to this message. If you know someone who saw this fireball, please respond to this message. If you would like to volunteer to help us obtain information about this fireball, please respond to this message.

Goal: Obtain as many images of the bright meteor as possible so as to reconstruct the meteor's path and the location of any meteorites.

We need to get as much information as possible within the first 48 hours of this event before images are overwritten and while it is still fresh on people's minds. Please contribute if you can!

Here is some background on the Fireball48 network: http://asterisk.apod.com/vie ... 32&t=22116

- RJN

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:41 am

Here is a report that came in over email. I have redacted the person's name for the time being for reasons of privacy.
This evening at approx 17:35 GMT I witnessed a very bright bolide meteor. Attached is an artists impression of the event which only lasted around five seconds.

Can you forward this email to experts in the field as I would love to hear from anyone who may have witnessed or, better still, photographed the event from a different viewpoint.

Is it possible to calculate the size of the body, its speed and altitude. I filed a report on the International Meteor Organization (IMO) website.

The report does not do the event justice so I thought I’d use my memory and impression of the event to create the image. In reality the meteor started as a fast moving but relatively sedate (for a meteor) light that I at first thought must be a fast moving or low jet aircraft. At this point there was a faint greyish trail.

As the meteor entered Ursa Major the brightness become spectacular and was by far the brightest object in the sky, the body appeared to greatly increase in speed, probably due to perspective, leaving a bright yellow trail behind the brilliant white object.

On leaving Ursa Major the meteor body began to slow noticeably (again perhaps because of perspective), and the trail became more pronounced orange in colour.

As the bolide entered the Constellation of Bootes it began to break apart, first into about seven very bright objects then progressively smaller pieces which appeared to vaporize as typical meteors do, except they left a deep red trail.

The trail colour indicated on the image is not entirely accurate as the whole trail seemed to fade through yellow, orange and then red, across the sky a few seconds after the bolide.

I’ve seen many meteors before but only once, when I was a small child of six years old, did I witness a similar event. That time I was following what I thought was a satellite, looking out of the window of my parents holiday caravan (trailer) as it was moving at a constant speed, obviously spinning due to it’s repeated brightening and fading. That time, the body seemed suddenly to accelerate across the sky, becoming a brilliant object and leaving a spectacular wispy filament like orange trail like fire, that persisted for what seemed an eternity, though in reality was probably about 10 seconds. My whoop of joy woke my sleeping parents and began my lifelong love of the night sky.

Tonight I got my wish that I would one day see another display. For a brief moment in time, I was that boy of six again.

Regards

Lincolnshire UK.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:43 am

Here is a report in The Telegraph:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/spac ... hower.html
The “very bright” meteor lit up the skies from Somerset to Aberdeen, leaving the astronomy world abuzz.

Franco42

Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Franco42 » Thu Dec 09, 2010 7:15 am

Hi There,

I left work about 5.30pm GMT yesterday and whilst walking towards the car park noticed this bright streak in the sky that in my first impression thought may be a firework. Then as I stopped to look at it I noticed it was going accross the sky and almost down with no sound and it broke up into about 7 peices before disappearing. I'm no expert but I have been fascinated by astronomy since a child and knew that no way do fireworks follow that pattern.

Hope this helps.

Thanks

Franco

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:38 am

Thanks, Franco. That's the first indication I've heard that it broke into pieces. Can you tell us your location and direction you were looking when you saw the fireball?

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:44 am

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... itain.html

New report in the Daily Mail. Does anyone know of any other news reports?

MPBetty

Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by MPBetty » Thu Dec 09, 2010 1:07 pm

Hello, I saw it in Edinburgh around 5:38 pm. I was facing south-East. It was really big and bright with a short tail tail compare to be fireball itself. Its trajectory reveals that is was a meteorit not a firework of course. It was geoing North East-South West.

Hope this will be helpfull

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:45 pm

MPBetty wrote:Hope this will be helpfull
Thanks, Betty. That is very helpful!

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:46 pm

I am trying to make a map of the locations where the fireball was sited. I am using Google Maps and trying to make it public. Please excuse my clumsiness as I climb the learning curve here. Here is a link to the current map:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?f=q&sour ... 544922&z=6

Here is an attempt to embed this map here:
<iframe width="425" height="350" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" marginheight="0" marginwidth="0" src="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?f=q&sour ... iframe><br /><small>View <a href="http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?f=q&sour ... ,18.544922" style="color:#0000FF;text-align:left">Fireball sightings map</a> in a larger map</small>

Yes, I realize that is a bunch of code but I will keep trying until I do better. If you know how to do better yourself, please have a go.
- RJN

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:50 pm

The BBC web site is reporting the fireball and giving a bunch of eyewitness accounts. Here is the link:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11954932

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 2:59 pm

We still do not have a single image of this fireball. If anyone can find one anywhere on the web, please post the link. Movies on YouTube are even better!

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:20 pm

Are there any continuous webcams online in the northern UK? If so, maybe one caught the fireball. If someone could check and report back here, that wold be nice.

Also, could someone search Twitter to see if anyone is reporting meteor sightings or images? If someone could check and report back here, that would be nice.

Also, could someone search Facebook as well? If so, even a negative report would be useful.

- RJN

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by owlice » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:39 pm

The link for the Google map didn't work for me.

Maybe this link will?

Or this link: http://tinyurl.com/349atd7
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:50 pm

owlice wrote:The link for the Google map didn't work for me.

Maybe this link will?

Or this link: http://tinyurl.com/349atd7
Thanks! All of those links work for me, though. I always see a map of the UK with points labeled from which the fireball was seen. Is this because I created the map while logged into my own Google account? I tried to make the map public, though. I will look into this further.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 3:59 pm

Searching the web with Google, I found several accounts of this fireball were reported to the Armagh Observatory Fireball report web site here: http://arpc65.arm.ac.uk/cgi-bin/fireballs/browse.pl

There are now several accounts that the meteor fragmented. This could be an indication that it dropped meteorites. There might be enough directional information now to estimate whether this fireball an early one from the Geminids meteor shower predicted to peak next week.

- RJN

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by owlice » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:12 pm

Yes, the map has points on it for me, too, so you did make it a public map.
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Grandad

Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Grandad » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:45 pm

My son-in-law saw this fireball last night at about 5:30pm, just north of Buxton, Derbyshire on his way home to Hayfield. A normally somewhat taciturn fellow, he went out of his way to describe this as a dramatic sight.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 4:47 pm

I have now added the fireball reports from the Armagh Observatory to the Google map here:
http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?hl=en&ie ... 486328&z=5

It appears that the fireball was visible over much of northern England as well as north Ireland and Northern Ireland. Can anyone else add points to the map, or just me?

- RJN

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by owlice » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:07 pm

I do not see a way to add points to that map, not even when logged into Google.

Clicking on the little down arrow under "Traffic" gets me a menu that allows me to select "Webcams," which puts webcam icons on the map. I can then go to the webcam to see its most recent image. If anyone were capturing images from a webcam in some of these locations, I wonder if they might have captured the fireball?
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:11 pm

Try clicking on "My Maps" on the left. They even have a little video. Google is big on sharing things so there may be a way forward here.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 5:28 pm

I just did another Google News search and it turned up that STV.tv is reporting an image of the meteor from a cellphone camera. Here is the link:
http://news.stv.tv/scotland/214993-dazz ... ile-phone/

This is one of the things I was hoping for. Here is a copy of the image (Copyright Kevin Laing):
Image

The image was apparently taken from Aberdeen, Scotland. Can anyone identify the star field in the background? It is posslible that all we need is one more good image of the meteor to get a trajectory!

- RJN

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Lohrenz » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:19 pm

Lucky to see the termination phase of this. I was a passenger in a car in City Road St Andrews. The bolide seemed to be moving from SE to NW, quite low (seen through windscreen) and appeared to break apart into a line of bright falling points, over the hills south of St Andrews.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:52 pm

I've obtained permission to use the sketch of the fireball as seen from Lincolnshire, UK in the above post:
http://asterisk.apod.com/vie ... 42#p138456

The below sketch was made with the assistance of Celestia and Sumo Paint. Here it is:
101208-1735-Ursa_Major-Fireball-text.jpg
Click on the image to bring up the drawn background constellations and text.

Given that the above cell phone image was taken from Aberdeen, and the above drawing is as seen from Lincolnshire, and given that Google Maps tells me that these two are located about 450 kilometers from each other, and given that meteor streaks occur at about 100 km up, there may now be enough information to determine at least a rough 3D trajectory of the meteor. Quite possible, we can now tell the constellation of origin and rough swath where meteorites may have fallen.

More on this as it develops.

- RJN
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Chris Peterson » Thu Dec 09, 2010 8:53 pm

I spent years tracking fireballs by working from witness reports, which also requires interviewing the most credible witnesses where they actually saw the meteor, and within a few days of the observation. It is very difficult to get anything better than a rough idea of the path without some sort of instrumental data. My observations on this event:

1. The reports are very typical, showing a fair degree of contradiction.
2. I estimate that the path length was at least 60°.
3. I estimate that the fragmentation event occurred over the ocean, west of Scotland and north of Northern Ireland.
4. While this sort of long, fragmenting meteor is not typical of a Geminid fireball, the apparent path is reasonably consistent with a Geminid Earth-grazer; the Geminid radiant was a few degrees above the NE horizon when this event occurred.
5. The east-to-west motion rules out re-entering space debris.
6. The wide geographical range of reports suggests a high altitude, which is also consistent with a Geminid.
7. The height, location of the retardation point, and lack of reports of sounds argue against meteorite formation.
8. I'm very skeptical that the mobile phone image is showing this event. Even if it is showing a final fragment (and the light curve looks completely wrong for that) I don't think there is any way the bright spots could be stars. I've never seen a mobile phone camera capable of recording stars like this, and to show the meteor, the exposure would have been on the order of a second, meaning no hand-held device will record perfect, unblurred stars.
9. There is a double-station meteor camera system in Armagh and Belfast. I have friends operating those cameras, but haven't heard back if they caught this.
Chris

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by ukmjk » Thu Dec 09, 2010 9:01 pm

I have a sky camera monitoring from Stoke on Trent, got nothing at the time mentioned - just this....
http://www.vimeo.com/17640651 about an hour later.
It looked like a Geminid to me as it was coming from the east (ish)
It was very bright though - My camera is not good enough to pick up any stars.

Martin Kessel