A bright fireball event occurred on Dec. 17 at 8:20:40 PM CST. It started out 52 miles above I-24 just south of Manchester, TN and moved to the northwest at 50,000 mph. The all sky camera lost track of it at an altitude of 23 miles just to the northwest of Shelbyville. Below is a map of the ground track.
The closest camera (Tullahoma, TN) shows that the fireball was about as bright as the full moon, which means we are dealing with an object about 20 inches across and weighing approximately 400 lbs.
Orbit indicates this object is a piece of an asteroid, with an aphelion in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, and perihelion (closest point to the sun) inside the orbit of Venus.
Watch closely and you will see the International Space Station, or ISS, cross the disk of the gibbous moon. Traveling at more than 17,000 mph, the ISS occasionally appears to pass in front of the moon or sun. These events go largely unnoticed, however, because viewers have to be along a very narrow path on Earth, one just a few miles wide, and the entire transit takes less than one second.
The short video is captured in real time, and provides a good idea of the brevity of the event. It was taken using a small refracting telescope and a Watec video camera.
The larger video is an animation of five frames taken with an 8-inch Schmidt Cassegrain telescope equipped with a DSLR camera.
Passing cirrus clouds resulted in slightly fuzzy images, but one can still make out the station’s solar arrays as they pass across the illuminated portion of the Moon.
Video credits: NASA/MSFC/ESSSA/Aaron Kingery and NASA/MSFC/MEO/Cameron McCarty