Author Options:

Fireball over Colorado Answered

What are the odds? On Oct. 28th at 7:29 pm Mountain Daylight Time, a random meteoroid hit Earth's atmosphere and disintegrated with the luminosity of a full Moon. The impact, which could've happened anywhere, took place directly above an all-sky video camera in Guffey, Colorado.

"I've received more than 100 eyewitness reports," says astronomer Chris Peterson, who operates the camera as part of a nightly fireball monitoring program. Combining the data at hand, he estimates that "the meteor had a ground path about 170 miles long and traveled from east to west at 34 km/s (76,000 mph)."

"I was lucky enough to see it myself from inside my house through a window," adds Thomas Ashcraft. What's amazing about that is he was located 300 miles away in New Mexico. "It was brilliant turquoise and green and lasted more than nine seconds." Ashcraft is an amateur radio astronomer and his receivers picked up echoes of distant TV transmitters bouncing off the fireball's ionized trail: listen.

Using a computer model of Earth's meteoroid environment, Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center calculates that fireballs this bright come along once every five months or so. Rarely, however, are they witnessed. About 70% of all fireballs streak over uninhabited ocean while half appear during the day, invisible in sunny skies. To catch one in the crosshairs of a meteor camera on a dark albeit cloudy night is good luck indeed.

Cloudbait Skycam

Other observers caught video of the event, and recorded the radio noise it made.

You could have recorded the event yourself, if you had followed this Instructable.

Updates at SpaceWeather


All of you are wrong. That was ME in my UFO (Undercover Flying Observatory) spying on all those terrorist socialists who voted for Obama. My vapor trail lights up whenever I spot one, they immediately call 911, get accused of being loony, and are promptly committed to an institution. Best project the government has going for it. And now, Obama is going to discontinue it and send the $25 billion cost of the program to a bunch of unhealthy, unemployeable, old, and poor folks. What a rip off. Once my project is closed down, I will have to go on welfare to survive, since I can no longer get any more sweetheart federal contracts from the Bush Administration.

My cousin lives near Guffey. The mayor is a cat.

Marcello is the new mayor of this apartment. Best idea ever!

Hmmm... secretary. She has fancy little boots. And I bet she'd look good in glasses. :D Didi can be treasurer! Chester can be the sheriff. :D

The first time I read this I thought you said "She has fancy little boots. And I bet you'd look good in glasses."

That's nothing. In Oklahoma, there's a town with 6 people. Makes Guffey look like NYC.

Hmmm, well, yeah, that's true.

Maybe not quite as big as NYC, though...

I don't think the mayor's a cat, either...

I saw one last night. Not very bright or long. About 400 (?) miles South.

That's an advantage of living in a big country - there is no part of the UK not affected by light pollution, so we miss loads of casual observing.

umm, london? perhaps. It is just as bad as the city district of vancouver.

... no part not affected...

i.e. every part is affected. Even out in the countryside.

There are a few bits here in the middle though lately I've noticed belfast is a lot brighter with the barf glow, I have notions about highlighting the isses of light pollution with a project of monstrous capacities...

Ravers + alcohol + glowsticks... On a lighter note that happened at cadets once upon a time, a guy made a joke about drinking a glow stick, ended up doing it and there was a trail of glowing vomit about the place, no other side effects apart from his teeth glowing.

Well it certainly removed him from the gene pool for a few weeks, hell could be permanent as long as nobody stops reminding him about it.

Almost as weird as the time I was messing around with a girl at a party with lots of glowing things, the bracelet ones and by the end of it the walls just had little dots of glowing stuff on them, also fun is a plan I came up with, I'm planning on 'iblizing it, excellent fun and recycled goodness...

Over here just 10 to 20 minutes out and you won't see any lights

It wasn't a meteor! It was a Goa-uld ship! The SGC is in Colorado, it must have been attacking or summat...