Large Fireball Recorded Over Atlanta Georgia 5/20/11

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A large fireball was reported to the AMS by multiple witnesses surrounding Atlanta Georgia, on Friday 5/20/11 at 22:45 EDT.

Over 17 witness reports for this event were submitted to the AMS.

Kimberly from Cumming GA reports:

This came in fast and low. Object burned up over … neighborhood, so will see if I can find any fragments on ground tomorrow in the daylight. Two flashes close together. First flash brighter and bigger than the second. During first flash, could see object fragment. Fragments burned brightly like fireworks. Second flash seemed to burn up remaining fragments This came in fast and low. Object burned up over neighborhood, so will see if I can find any fragments on ground tomorrow in the daylight. Very bright and long at first, then a pause after a small “pop”, then slightly dimmer and about half the original length before it completely burned up.

You can view plots of these reports below. Clicking the map image will launch an interactive Google Map for this event.  

Atlanta Fireball - May 5th, 2011

This spectacular fireball was caught on two cameras operated by Bill Cooke and NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office. Bill described the event:

This is by far the biggest and brightest event we have seen with our network! This was a 6 second event, with midpoint at 02:46:57 UT (10:46:57 EDT). It was so bright that the ASGARD software was unable to find a “center of light” and so did not automatically identify it as a meteor. You will note 3 distinct flares in the video, indicating 3 fragmentation events.

Here are two still frames captured from two different locations:

Atlanta Fireball - May 20, 2011 - Photo Credit: NASA MEO

Atlanta Fireball - May 20, 2011 - Photo Credit: NASA MEO

Atlanta Fireball - May 20, 2011 - Photo Credit: NASA MEO

And here are the videos that correspond with the still pictures above.

From the Chickamauga station:

From the Tellus station

If you witnessed this event, please submit a fireball report and tell us what you saw!

14 comments

  • Kelley Coyne 6 years ago

    May 20, 2011 at approximately 11:00 pm we witnessed a huge blue fireball crossing Lake Oconee(Greensboro, GA). It was blueish/green at first then turned orange. It was traveling West/ North west at a high rate of speed.

    Reply to Kelley
  • Carl Leach 6 years ago

    Me, my wife and 2 others were outside in the driveway at the same time and witnessed this. We live in Gwinnett County Ga. It looked like a large stream of fire with intermitant blank spots. Seemed to change colors after every blank spot. Assumed this was layers of different types of materials burning. It seemed to move slower than I would have expected. really interesting to veiw.

    Reply to Carl
  • Staci 6 years ago

    I saw this blue/green, glowing fireball with a tail only about 15-20 feet above my garage Friday night (5/20/11) around 11:00 pm in Cumming, GA. It was so low and bright, I expected to hear something land, but did not. I plan to look for fragments!

    Reply to Staci
  • Katelyn 6 years ago

    On May 21 and May 22, 2011 we saw an orange fireball travel across the sky around 11:00 both nights. we actually had enough time to go in and grab the camera to take pictures. This was in Haliburton, Ontario. Does anyone know what this is? I’m having a hard time believing its a UFO.

    Reply to Katelyn
  • Megan O 6 years ago

    On Sunday May 29, 2011 my mother partner and I witness a circular object with what appeared to be a flame centrally located move through the sky much slower than the typical “shooting star” viewing. Our location was in Belfountain Ohio at Indian Lake. Wondering if there were any other reports of such. As stated by other viewers of similar objects, we also had enough time to grab our camera, but unfortunately did not do any justice to what the naked eye saw.

    Reply to Megan
    • Megan O 6 years ago

      To be more exact in hopes of others who saw similar, the “sighting” was around 11:00 pm.

      Reply to Megan
  • Free 6 years ago

    When I was a young teen ager or perhaps a slight pre-teen I was outside with some friends. This was probably 1980 to 1984 if I had to guess. That would make me between 10 and 14 years old. Anyways, we saw a large orange and black circle in the night sky. It was about the same size as a full moon. It was not a small white shooting star. It was hundreds if not thousands of times bigger and was moving much, much slower. As we watched this we started to see a tail of other orange particles coming off of it. At first it appeared to be moving towards us but soon we could tell it was moving across the sky. We were just kids in awe with no fear. As the tail grew we started to get alarmed. The tail was so big that if you held your arms out full length, the tail was about 18″ between your hands. I decided to run in the house to get the adults so they could see it. I figured they would get the same amusement out of it that we were. I explained what we were looking at and they rushed out of the house. When they saw it, they freaked out in terror and of course that is when us kids got scared. It flew out of sight within 5 minutes and it was over. However, there was nothing on the news about it and after all these years, I still cannot find anything about it. Could it be that it was such a super close call that they just wont mention it? Anyone else heard about this? I have not seen any videos of anything even remotely this large and this close.

    Reply to Free
  • Free 6 years ago

    I should add that I am in the midwest and it was summer.

    Reply to Free
  • Tracy Szilagyi 6 years ago

    I witnessed the event from my back yard in Fayette County. This late night I sat on my patio enjoying a little peace and quiet. Upon first sight the meteor was white, tail visible and extremely high in the sky. Within seconds it was low and directly over head. I watched as it began to disintegrate. The tail became bright orange just before the initial green flash. The second green flash seemed to disintegrate the remainder of the meteor entirely. It was truly an amazing spectacle! As a star gazer, this was by far the most incredible event I’ve witnessed in quite some time. I immediately notified a few friends in hopes that someone else witnessed this same event. I saw the meteor on the 20 on May at approximately 11:00 pm or just after, traveling in a Northwesterly direction.

    Reply to Tracy
  • John Orengo 6 years ago

    Viewed a large fireball around 1985 in new Jersey! I just stepped outside to enjoy a cigarette after my shower. I glanced at the sky and to my surprise I witnessed a large fireball approaching from the west in the direction of Philadelphia! It was so big I thought it might hit the ground! Instead if went directly overhead and rumbled like a large fighter plane and thunder. It was as a ball of flames yellow white and orange in front with gray and black smoke to the sides and back. The trail was white and visible for over an hour,there was no wind. It broke into several small pieces as it disappeared. It lasted about ten seconds. I checked the papers and news channels but found nothing.

    Reply to John
  • Tom Jr. 6 years ago

    I saw this thing @ around 11 pm May 20 in Tallahassee. It was huge and long lasting. I was walking north near a well lit parking lot and just happened to look up. It was awesome and I actually screamed when I saw it. I have reported the sighting on a few other sites, but just noticed this one. I love meteors and all things of the night sky. This was 10 times bigger than any meteor I’ve ever seen. I really thought it was only a few miles north of where I was, but the next day I started reading of others who had seen it and it was obviously north of Atlanta. I saw the whole event clearly and the bright blue green light lasted a long time, breaking up 1/2 way and completely disappearing in a few seconds. It was impressive! Oh yeah, the next day the world was supposed to end, as many I told of my sighting, reminded me. Still here.

    Reply to Tom
  • Karen P 6 years ago

    Bright Green Light out of nowhere in lower dark sky Cape May County NJ just before 8PM Sunday October 23 2011- bright flash/fast streaking, it dipped quickly below treeline. We were driving through our campground and I asked my husband to back up – I was so surprised and wanted to check out the sky through the clearing between trees, but there was another car close behind us, so we had to proceed on the one-way road. I thought it was fireworks, and perhaps the ‘green blob of light’ was a dud…but no more occurred and there was no sound. Later that evening when we picked my son and his co-worker up from the night shift – the co-worker said that there would be a meteorite shower that night. The sky is very dark this time of year at the Southernmost tip of NJ, and I tried to go outdoors several more times that night to view more, but this is all I witnessed. Very cool to know my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me with a reflection or other illusion and that what I saw is described on this site.

    Reply to Karen
  • matthew l. link 6 years ago

    On December 1st I saw what looked like a crescent shaped fireball about 1/3th width of my smallest finger with only the leading edge of it flickering yellow /white with orange horizontal stripes moving vertically with a tail that sparkled four to seven miles long estimating it was higher than any jet liner as it moved across the night sky. It moved slower than any meteor or shooting star I’ve seen in the past. I was talking to a friend before going back into work from lunch a little late 9 :05 in a little hamlet called Trumbaurersville PA and it went out of view while still 4 or 5 inches off the horizon going wnw towards Allentown or Hellertown. Did anyone out there, an observatory or personal account please notify this website for my internet explorer won’t allow me to receive mail till I get it fixed I’ll be looking for your response here. thank you M.L.LINK

    Reply to matthew
  • Steven L 6 years ago

    I was in Braselton,Ga at the Home Depot Distribution center the night of May 20th 2011. I was driving the yard truck that night. The majority of the office personel had left for the night before Joking about the end of the world coming that following day. I did think to much of it. Around 11 pm or so I thought I was the only one in the trailer parking lot. I was pulling a loaded trailer from the whare house to seal and place for delivery the next morning. As I got out of the yard truck and went to the back to close the trailer doors I just so happened to look up. There was a huge white glowing light that was in a cloud really low maybe one story up from the top of the wharehouse. It was nearly right above my head. I didnt know how to be afraid. It was a powerless feeling that came over me. I had an inner thought and suddenly the light left the cloud. I look at the sky for a few more seconds. I then seen a Bluish green light form out of darkness. It looked as if it was commencing to go into hyper speed. That is when I saw it fire of toward the earth. It look like something you would see in night vision goggles on a battlefield during war. It was headed in the direction of north ga, toward Buford or gainesville,Ga. Not knowing what else to do i just continued what I was doing. As i went to park the trailer their was another driver who was staring at the sky. later I would find out that from his perspective a ball of fire came out of that cloud that night. Every time during may since this incident. i think about that night. i do not agree it was a meteor…But then again it was what it was

    Reply to Steven

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