Monthly Archives: September 2013

Meteor Fragment Streaks Over Alabama and Georgia

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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.

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NASA Catches Bright Fireballs Over the Southeast

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Early Wednesday morning, at 3:27:20 AM Eastern Time, a piece of an asteroid, about 2 feet in diameter and weighing over 100 pounds, entered Earth’s atmosphere above the Georgia/Tennessee border, just south of Cleveland. The meteor was moving northeast at 56,000 miles per hour, and began to break apart north east of Ocoee, at an altitude of 33 miles. A second, fragmentation occurred less than half a second later, at an altitude of 29 miles. NASA cameras lost track of the fireball pieces at an altitude of 21 miles, by which time they had slowed to a speed of 19,400 mph. Sensors on the ground recorded sound waves (“sonic booms”) from this event, and there are indications on Doppler weather radar of a rain of small meteoritic particles falling to the ground east of Cleveland, Tennessee.

Recorded by all six NASA cameras in the Southeast, this fireball was one of the brightest observed by the network in 5 years of operations.  From Chickamauga, Georgia, the meteor was 20 times brighter than the Full Moon; shadows were cast on the ground as far south as Cartersville.