Monday, Sept 9 at 8:18 PM Central Time, a baseball size fragment of a comet entered Earth’s atmosphere above Alabama, moving southwest at a speed of 76,000 miles per hour. At such speeds, fragile cometary material will not last long. Just 3 seconds after hitting the atmosphere, the meteor disintegrated 25 miles above the town of Woodstock, producing a flash of light rivaling the waxing crescent Moon. Because it penetrated so deep into Earth’s atmosphere, sonic booms were produced, which were heard by eyewitnesses.
A montage of the fireball as seen by 5 NASA cameras in the Southeast is attached, along with the meteor’s trajectory, which lies south of Birmingham. Also attached is a diagram showing the meteor’s orbit, which extends well beyond the orbit of Jupiter and is similar to those of comets. It was not a member of any known meteor shower.
A fireball is a meteor brighter than the planet Venus – the fireball seen Monday night was 15 times brighter than Venus.
The NASA cameras observing this event are located at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville; the James Smith Planetarium near Chickamauga, Georgia; the Tellus Science Museum in Cartersville Georgia; and the North Georgia College Observatory near Dahlonega, Georgia.