Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

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DavidLeodis
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by DavidLeodis » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:00 pm

If the trajectory can be at least roughly determined and as much of the UK has a snow cover I wonder if any meteorites from the bolide may be readily seen on the surface of the snow?

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Thu Dec 09, 2010 11:10 pm

ukmjk wrote:I have a sky camera monitoring from Stoke on Trent, got nothing at the time mentioned
Martin Kessel
Thanks anyway, Martin!

Chris Peterson wrote: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:
Thanks for chiming in, Chris. Your expertise is needed.

I am surprised that more camera images are not being reported. Many news web sites in the UK are requesting that images be sent in, and so far only one has posted a (claimed) image. I would have guessed that this fireball would show up by chance on many video security devices, for example. The lack of images threatens the foundation of this FIREBALL48 project. The idea was that bright fireballs would be caught by chance by cell and security devices, perhaps at a greater rate than professionally deployed meteor cameras. And since these are the very brightest events, they would be the most interesting and have the greatest chance of dropping meteorites to boot. But if we don't get images, then we can't go foreword.
Chris Peterson wrote: 3. I estimate that the fragmentation event occurred over the ocean, west of Scotland and north of Northern Ireland.
We should then look for security cameras facing that direction. Does anyone know of any? Time is running out -- many cameras will over-write their images as time goes on.
Chris Peterson wrote: 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.
Very interesting. Possibly a Geminid Earth-grazer. It appears to be one that broke up, though. Perhaps not all the pieces only grazed.
Chris Peterson wrote: 5. The east-to-west motion rules out re-entering space debris.
Again very interesting. That is because most space debris orbits with the spinning Earth, west to east.
Chris Peterson wrote: 7. The height, location of the retardation point, and lack of reports of sounds argue against meteorite formation.
I don't really understand this point. Could you please elaborate?
Chris Peterson wrote: 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.
Yes, now that you mention it, I do wonder how the cell phone could see so many point-like stars. Still, some phones have stabilized images, so that the stars might not be blurred. Also, the phone might adapt to a very dark background. Perhaps the endpoints of the supposed meteor trajectory are cut off by the start and stop times of the camera integration interval. The person who took the image gives a believable story in the news report. It would be good if someone could email him asking more details about his image, like his exact location, the direction he was facing, etc. His contact information is findable from online news stories.
Chris Peterson wrote: 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.
Yes, I know someone else who is checking on professional grade cameras. That would be great for science if it was caught. But assuming it was not, ad hoc fishing expeditions like this might have the best chance of finding good enough serendipitous images to nail the event. I am also a bit surprised that more random sky enthusiasts have not chimed in to help. This can be a lot of fun. Perhaps, though, it needs more pre-planning, including a signup list of people who volunteer to spring into action when a fireball is reported.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Chris Peterson » Fri Dec 10, 2010 4:38 am

RJN wrote:
Chris Peterson wrote: 7. The height, location of the retardation point, and lack of reports of sounds argue against meteorite formation.
I don't really understand this point. Could you please elaborate?
The best scenario for meteorite survival is low velocity, shallow entry angle, and retardation at a low height (below 30 km). Based on the witness reports, however, it sounds as if the meteor was very high even at the end, and not particularly slow. In addition, a retardation point over the ocean would rule out recovering meteorites. This meteor apparently did not experience fragmentation until the end, so meteorites earlier along the path are unlikely. Finally, because most meteorite producers survive to low heights, sonic booms are commonly heard in the area where meteorites are ultimately recovered. But there have not been any reports of such sounds.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Wayne » Fri Dec 10, 2010 6:50 am

I didn't see a damned thing from South Yorkshire and I was out observing for a cluster of Iridium flares at the time.

Also that phone image looks really, really fake.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Richard71 » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:36 am

Those won't be stars in the reported mobile phone photo - bear in mind that there's been heavy snow across the north of the British Isles for the last couple of weeks. Looks more like snowflakes to me (although that leaves the conundrum of how the meteor could be seen if there was enough cloud cover to cause that amount of snow...)

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by ukmjk » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:38 am

Just talked with someone at work who saw this - it appears to have been in the northern sky from Stoke - my camera would have missed it! It favours the east!
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Guest » Fri Dec 10, 2010 1:15 pm

I saw it at about 5.35PM from Stoke On trent, It was going North-west and it did break up into several pieces before disappearing

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Kimmy » Fri Dec 10, 2010 7:07 pm

I saw this meteor in Newton-le-Willows in Merseyside. So if you want to add a place marker to your map. I only observed it for around 3 seconds and during that time it was fairly bright and broke up into several pieces which I assume burnt up and no sound was heard. Unfortunately I cannot give any directionality. Hope that helps.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Fri Dec 10, 2010 9:20 pm

Trying to find this fireball's trajectory by online coordination over the past two days has been quite an interesting and learning experience for me. I am reminded of the kids show "JoJo's Circus", which I used to watch with my daughter, where at the end of each episode someone asks "What did you learn today, JoJo?". (And JoJo would typically reply something like, "Well, today I learned that you shouldn't cover yourself in fish blood and then go swimming with sharks.")

1. Real Images are Needed
One needs real images to get a meteor trajectory. Anecdotal stories are just not accurate enough. This has been mentioned before but really became clear here. Anecdotal stories are important, though, for determining which quadrant of the sky the meteor would appear from different locations.

2. Cell Phones are Useless
Cell phones will only be useful for imaging fireballs when the meteor takes perhaps 10 seconds or more to cross the sky. That is about how much time it would take someone to take out their cell phone and start to image the fireball. This fireball took less than that -- about 5 seconds to the estimation of many -- so few if any images images of the meteor have come forward. There must have been hundreds of people who saw this meteor, and surely many of them had cell phones, but perhaps none of them were able to get a picture. I have now emailed the sole person who claimed to take a cell phone image of the meteor, but have not as yet heard a response. Meteors that take longer than 10 seconds to cross the sky could be imaged by cell phones but are exceedingly rare.

Note, though, that the Peekskill fireball has imaged by many people, including several videos, back in 1992. I now understand that a key reason for this was the long duration of the fireball. Here is a link: http://meteor.uwo.ca/~pbrown/Videos/peekskill.htm

3. Web Cams are Useless
Many web cams now take only static images instead of streaming movies. Also, even in a first world country like the UK, web cams apparently just don't capture much of the sky much of the time.

4. Security Cams Still Might Work
It is still possible that security cameras are capturing a much larger fraction of the sky, a much larger fraction of the time, than personal cell phones. I note that the most popular amateur meteor video posted to YouTube was taken by a security camera attached to a police cruiser. See: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap081125.html

So, did a security video capture this UK fireball? I would bet that several have. We needed to find a way to get to those images. I have been thinking about this over the past day. Most security videos are private, unrecoverable, and hence lost, but there may be at least two sources of videos that might be recoverable.

Police videos. Just like the above image, police around the world now typically have videos in cars, headquarters, and parking lots. Emails to these police departments might shake some free. The police themselves might not want to sludge through all of the videos trying to find the ones with the fireball(s) though.

News media. I would guess that news media have their own security cameras covering entrances and parking lots. It therefore seems ironic that news centers are asking their readers for images, while they themselves might have better images. In this case, however, they might actually want to sludge through the videos looking for the fireball, since they themselves get to be the first to report on it. Emails to news media sites illuminated by the fireball might be able to shake these free. As time goes by, however, many have been erased.

5. Motivated People are Needed
I now think that a small team or teams -- perhaps only two to five people per team -- should be recruited beforehand to spring into action when a fireball has been reported. These teams could then figure out which video cameras might have seen the event, and contact those organizations as soon as possible to get at those videos before they are overwritten. For motivation, two teams could be created that would then compete against each other.

- RJN

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by SsDd » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:29 am

I wonder if any of the pseudo-scientific UFO watchers caught any images, I am guessing they might have cameras pointed permanently to the skies. I have been looking through a large number of mainstream news reports, for a couple of hours now but no one seems to have a photo or video of the event yet.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by SsDd » Sat Dec 11, 2010 7:38 am

On a UFO hunters website, I found a couple of people discussing a streak of light and a fireball explosion that they apparently thought was a firecracker. However, one of them uploaded a google maps image showing the direction of the apparent streak,

Here is the Image :-

Image

And here is the link to the page :- http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread638396/pg2

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by SsDd » Sat Dec 11, 2010 8:18 am

I found a video, of a person who claims to have caught the event on the camera in his car. I am sent the Youtuber an email, requesting him in very kind words, if he could divulge his location when he caught this :-
Click to play embedded YouTube video.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by neufer » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:01 pm

SsDd wrote:I found a video, of a person who claims to have caught the event on the camera in his car. I am sent the Youtuber an email, requesting him in very kind words, if he could divulge his location when he caught this :-
Click to play embedded YouTube video.
Hmmm... let me take a wild guess here:

He was traveling NNE (azimuth ~35º) on Brookside Ave. in Liverpool, England
http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=57.1526, ... 1526,-2.11

at 17:35:12 Dec. 8, 2010

Traveling from:

53.415636 N , 2.89117 W to
53.416330 N , 2.89036 W
Last edited by neufer on Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Chris Peterson » Sat Dec 11, 2010 3:09 pm

SsDd wrote:I found a video, of a person who claims to have caught the event on the camera in his car. I am sent the Youtuber an email, requesting him in very kind words, if he could divulge his location when he caught this...
That image appears to have caught the fireball in question. It also supports my earlier suspicion that this was not much of a fireball (one of the witnesses reported magnitude -7, which isn't very bright; another said it was brighter than any planets, which again is not suggestive of a very bright fireball). In fact, this appears to have been a very common sort of meteor- one like this could be seen from any given area once a week or so. So why all the hoopla about this event? It's simple: it happened at a commuter time, low in the sky as seen from a heavily populated area. That is much less common, and when it happens you tend to gets hundreds of witnesses, many of whom call news stations (or these days, start Twittering).

Really bright fireballs, such as those recently caught on cameras and known to have dropped meteorites, tend to be brighter than the Moon, and cast shadows as they move across the sky.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by neufer » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:05 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
That image appears to have caught the fireball in question. It also supports my earlier suspicion that this was not much of a fireball (one of the witnesses reported magnitude -7, which isn't very bright; another said it was brighter than any planets, which again is not suggestive of a very bright fireball). In fact, this appears to have been a very common sort of meteor- one like this could be seen from any given area once a week or so. So why all the hoopla about this event? It's simple: it happened at a commuter time, low in the sky as seen from a heavily populated area. That is much less common, and when it happens you tend to gets hundreds of witnesses, many of whom call news stations (or these days, start Twittering).

Really bright fireballs, such as those recently caught on cameras and known to have dropped meteorites, tend to be brighter than the Moon, and cast shadows as they move across the sky.
Holy cow, Chris! Chill out. :roll:

This is an interesting exercise simply because so many people saw it that it might be possible to track the path.

No one ever claimed that this was the Fireball of the Century.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Chris Peterson » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:20 pm

neufer wrote:Holy cow, Chris! Chill out. :roll:

This is an interesting exercise simply because so many people saw it that it might be possible to track the path.

No one ever claimed that this was the Fireball of the Century.
You missed my point. One key purpose of this exercise was to locate any meteorites produced, but this event does not appear to be the sort of meteor likely to result in any. Additionally, this case represents a common type of observing bias: even very impressive meteors often go unwitnessed because they are high in the sky, or occur at inconvenient times, while very common, ordinary meteors (like this) end up over-reported simply because they happen at a time and location where they are widely seen. This sort of bias should be considered when deciding if a particular event is worth further investigation.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by neufer » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:38 pm

Chris Peterson wrote:
neufer wrote:Holy cow, Chris! Chill out. :roll:

This is an interesting exercise simply because so many people saw it that it might be possible to track the path.

No one ever claimed that this was the Fireball of the Century.
You missed my point. One key purpose of this exercise was to locate any meteorites produced, but this event does not appear to be the sort of meteor likely to result in any. Additionally, this case represents a common type of observing bias: even very impressive meteors often go unwitnessed because they are high in the sky, or occur at inconvenient times, while very common, ordinary meteors (like this) end up over-reported simply because they happen at a time and location where they are widely seen. This sort of bias should be considered when deciding if a particular event is worth further investigation.
I got your point; you apparently didn't get mine.

Locating possible meteorites was NEVER a key purpose of this exercise.

http://asterisk.apod.com/vie ... 32&t=22242

This event captured the interest of a lot of people; ergo, it is worthy of further investigation.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by owlice » Sat Dec 11, 2010 4:39 pm

This was reported by at least several people to have broken into pieces. Why wouldn't it have produced meteorites?

It was captured on video with a camera that was traveling down a brightly-lit street (with car headlights shining into the camera to boot); seems to me it would have had to be pretty bright to be filmed under those circumstances.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Chris Peterson » Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:04 pm

owlice wrote:This was reported by at least several people to have broken into pieces. Why wouldn't it have produced meteorites?
It was probably too high when it broke up, and still traveling too fast. And if it did produce meteorites, they are likely in the ocean.
It was captured on video with a camera that was traveling down a brightly-lit street (with car headlights shining into the camera to boot); seems to me it would have had to be pretty bright to be filmed under those circumstances.
I'd say the video image is consistent with a magnitude -7 or -8 fireball. That's certainly bright enough to be impressive, but isn't at all unusual, and isn't typical of most recorded fireballs that have associated meteorite falls.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by SsDd » Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:05 pm

neufer wrote: Hmmm... let me take a wild guess here:

Traveling from:

53.415636 N , 2.89117 W to
53.416330 N , 2.89036 W

Ah, sorry neufer, in all the excitement of finding the video, I did not notce the co-ordinates on his cam.

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Chris Peterson » Sat Dec 11, 2010 5:15 pm

neufer wrote:Locating possible meteorites was NEVER a key purpose of this exercise.
You must be reading something very different than I am.

RJN: "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."

RJN: "A goal of this project is to connect fireballs and meteorites with the comet or asteroid of origin. This has only been done a few times, and in this modern digital age where many people own digital cameras and cell phones, there might be opportunity for improvement. Also, NASA and other space agencies spends millions sending spacecraft to comets and asteroids to study them and bring back pieces. It might help if a ragtag group of sky enthusiasts could make a difference on a much more modest budget and with existing technology."
neufer wrote:This event captured the interest of a lot of people; ergo, it is worthy of further investigation.
I'm not suggesting otherwise. I'm only pointing out some of the pitfalls of attempting rigorous meteor analysis, or of locating meteorites, based on fireballs where most or all of the available data is provided by witness reports.

I investigate and report on fireballs all the time that have little likelihood of producing meteorites, or for which it is not possible to reconstruct an accurate orbit. I do this for widely witnessed events, specifically because they generate a lot of public interest.

I don't see how anything I said could be construed as negativity about this project as a whole; I was simply summarizing what we know from this investigation, and what additional information this car video brings to the table. Given the limited resources available, it is important to understand early on what sort of events are most worth devoting significant effort on. It isn't practical to chase every fireball bright enough to make the news, although it might be practical to engage is some basic investigation, which I think describes this case.
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by neufer » Sat Dec 11, 2010 9:32 pm

SsDd wrote:
neufer wrote: Hmmm... let me take a wild guess here:

Traveling from: 53.415636 N , 2.89117 W to
53.416330 N , 2.89036 W
Ah, sorry neufer, in all the excitement of finding the video, I did not notice the co-ordinates on his cam.
Of course, it may not be the meteor in question seeing as how the timing is off by a year:
RJN wrote:Did you see this bright meteor?

Place: Somewhere over the United Kingdom
Time: 2011 December 8; about 5:35 pm GMT
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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by RJN » Sun Dec 12, 2010 1:20 am

Wow, great finding that video, SsDd!. Could you tell us how you found it, though? I had been searching YouTube regularly for videos like this and came up empty. What I was doing was entering the search term "meteor' and/or "fireball" and then selecting only videos that had been uploaded "This week". This technique still fails to find the video you linked to. So please tell us how you found it!

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Danielmcundiff » Sun Dec 12, 2010 3:53 am

My Fiance told me both her and her daughter both saw a large white sphere travelling in an unknown direction at 6:30pm central time. Her location at that exact time was just southeast of Indianapolis, Indiana in the United States. She said as she was driving, she looked to her left and saw the sphere moving, then her daughter saw it too. I asked her if it had a tail, she said no. She was driving on I-74 Westbound, near Acton Indiana when she saw it. I-74 west bound curves northwest 3 miles or so east of Acton Indiana; so when she said she looked to her left, she had to have been looking Southwest.

Is this the same thing? Is it possible this was part of the Geminid showers from the Pheathon 3200?

Here was her location:
http://www.mapquest.com/#d06b19cb39d596eaa699b9e2

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Re: Fireball48 Alert: Fireball Over the United Kingdom

Post by Chris Peterson » Sun Dec 12, 2010 4:00 am

Danielmcundiff wrote:Is this the same thing? Is it possible this was part of the Geminid showers from the Pheathon 3200?
This was not the same thing as the UK event. It may well have been a meteor, and right now almost any meteor could be a member of the Geminid shower, but without knowing just where they saw it in the sky, it's impossible to know.
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