Fireballs, Meteors, Meteorites and Other Assorted Extra-terrestrial Phenomena

Meteor from the Leonid Shower in 2009
Meteor from the Leonid Shower in 2009 courtesy Wikipedia

Texas Daytime Fireball

Last week a rare daytime meteor was observed flashing across the Texas sky. To observers on the ground, the celestial object appeared brighter than even the sun. According to NASA, spring fireballs come from asteroids and have a tendency to peak during the months of February and late March/ early April. The article went on to say that fall meteors originate from comets. Much of this information comes from observation and specially located cameras set up by NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Still, much has to be learned about this natural phenomenon.

Green Fireballs In Northern  New Mexico

This winter while walking home at 8 p.m. in northern New Mexico, where I currently reside, I was fortunate to witness a meteor that dropped straight down out of the sky. As it neared the earth’s surface, the glowing object exploded into a large green-colored fireball and then abruptly disintegrated before hitting solid land. My first impression was that I had just witnessed a shooting star, which almost landed. However, a little research indicated some other cause and effect may be at work here. Other sightings by New Mexico residents, along with international data indicate that this particular event has a higher than average frequency in New Mexico. Nonetheless, I was delighted to be a witness to this unique astronomical event. Even stranger was the local radio D.J., who recounted on the air a similar observation made at a different time.

Green Fireballs and Ball Lightning

Nonetheless, the strange downward path of this lighted object raises some questions about the true nature of the nocturnal sighting. Could there be something else at work in this case. A timely article about some similar night time lights in Australia suggest that these green fireballs that drop straight down may be linked to ball lightning. Anyway, it is fun to sit around to sit around on dark winter nights and discuss the meaning of unusual astronomical sightings.

Meteorites, like this one that landed in  Niger, are meteors that survived a descent through the earth’s atmosphere. source meteorite-recon

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