24
Aug
2011

Upper Mid-Western Fireball August 23, 2011

The American Meteor Society has received reports of a very bright fireball over the states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska, plus southern Manitoba, Canada,  occurring near 9:30pm CDT (8:30pm MDT)  Tuesday evening August 23rd. Of the two dozen reports received so far, blue and green are the most mentioned color. The average brightness reported by witnesses exceeded the light produced by the full moon. The AMS will post any video of this object should it become available.

In the AMS fireball table, refer to event #898 for 2011.

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford

About Robert Lunsford

Bob has been interested in the stars as far back as he can recall His first experience with meteors was a biggie, the 1966 Leonid shower. In 1980, a major awaking occurred. He received a sample copy of Meteor News. He was amazed to learn there was a group actually devoted strictly to meteor observing! He joined the group also started to view some of the minor showers list among the pages of Meteor News. Lastly, he was contracted by Springer Publishing in 2007 to write a book on observing meteors. The book is now available and hopefully will be a useful guide to all interested in the enjoyable field of meteor observing. More info about Robert Lunsford →
42 Responses
  1. Fred Nicks says: August 24, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    On Aug 23, 2011 at about 9:32 p.m. my wife and I witnessed a meteor event at a wayside rest area on the south side of Interstate 94, mile marker 2, just on the east side of Moorhead MN. At that point the Interstate is aligned directly west to east, and we were facing directly west. The meteor burned bright green from an arc starting approximately 15 degrees south of the interstate and travelled directly north to about 5 degrees south of the interstate. At this point it disappeared below the tree line about 300 feet away, and the sky lit up like a lightning flash in a distant approaching thunder storm. From our perspective; the trajectory was a fairly straight line beginning about 5 degrees above the horizon and lasted about 2 seconds. I saw the event from the start and told my wife to look and see it. It lasted long enough for her to look to the west, see the glow, and the lightning-type flash. It was as bright as a green fireworks ember.


  2. @ 8:55 pm (Mountain Time) near Hot Springs SD I saw a fireball appear out of no where and it was so low I could have sworn it landed in Rapid City. I could actually see the flames off of this thing. It looked as tho it was barely skimming the tree tops. A once in a life-time experience for sure. It was awesome and yet a bit scarey. It was a pretty big fire-ball.


    • hello, Do you know the exact date and Approx. Time that you saw this?

      I live in Orange County California and my entire family watched something on fire cross our skies on Aug. 18th, 2011 from 10:52 through 10:58 PM.
      Would also, could actually see the flames and it was HUGE. it also flew
      Across our sky like a plane, only on FIRE, and no sound.

      I’m just wondering the date of your sitting and if we saw the same thing?

      Sincerely, Laura. immommylaura@yahoo.com


  3. Susan Kroontje says: August 24, 2011 at 2:40 pm

    about 9:30 pm 8-23-11 I saw a bright flash outside my window. I first thought it was lightning – I went out to look and only saw stars in the sky. I just thought I was imagining things. It was a very bright flash. Almost like someone had used the flash on their camera.


  4. Mauri Hilts says: August 24, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    I was driving due west on ND Highway 17 approximately ten miles east of Cando, ND USA. Time was approximately 9:31 p.m. I first noticed the light preceding this over my left shoulder, to the south, it was so bright it was lighting the path before it. Then a large green ball of light far brighter than venus has been, and at least twenty times larger in diameter, came into view. I alerted my son who was with me but even before I finished saying “Denzel look to your left” it was gone. As it streaked westward across the sky, it made a slow curve toward the earth, as it got closer to the earth it had an orange train. It lasted only five seconds or so. I spoke with the driver of a car directly behind me but she had not seen it. We got home and immediately searched the internet but found nothing about it, until this morning, when I searched via google “meteor North Dakota August 23, 2011″ and arrived at “The Latest Worldwide Meteor/Meteorite News.” So glad I found your site and fun to read the comments of others. My son wants to know if it has a name.

    Mauri Hilts


    • Mauri and All,

      Tell your son that fireballs are not named unless they produce fragments that reach the ground. In that case they are named for the area in which they are found.

      Robert Lunsford


    • i saw the same thing from Canada and today I was also wondering who else in the world saw that.


  5. 8.23.11 about 9:35pm we observed a HUGE yellow/green fireball with orange tail hurl downward from the sky in rural Steele county. It burned brightly and the sky around it flashed like lightening. It was in view about seconds before buring out.
    DAWN


  6. I saw the same as Susan Kroontje-a bright flash outside the window that was very quick. It seemed to light up the entire outside.


  7. Rhonda Schwartz says: August 24, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Grand Forks, North Dakota. On August 23, 2011 at approx 9:30 pm, I was sitting on my front porch, facing south, and saw what I described (to my husband soon after and in a text message to my two sons) as a “fireball” or “falling meteor,” rather low in the sky, not too far above the treetops, falling to the west. The ball was not too large but MUCH larger than a falling star (more like a small falling moon, or falling Pluto if that makes any sense). It looked like a ball of fire, yellowish to me (but I am colorblind). It lasted about five seconds. Soon after there was a streak of forked lighting in the same area. Wonder-filled, I waited for a couple of minutes on the porch, wondering if I should call 911, wondering if I would soon hear sirens, thinking something may have just crashed not too terribly far away. I later (about two minutes) also observed a cloudy streak in the sky, as if it was the path it had followed, a trail of sorts.


  8. Andrew Haines says: August 24, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    Last night around 9:30 I was walking on a dark dirt road in Okreek, South Dakota, and I was facing to the southwest. Suddenly i saw a flash of light and it was very bright. The only thing I could think of was that a car was coming behind me. When I turned I saw the large green fireball with a yellow/orange tail curving toward the earth before fading out. I immediately knew what it was because i have seen some before, but this was the brightest one I have every seen.


  9. We turned south at the SD Hwy 26 and 47 intersection and suddenly a bright flash of light hit our mirrors. Totally shocked us.


  10. Jeff Cadwell says: August 24, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    I was driving from Ortonville, MN to Browns Valley, MN just outside of Big Stone City, SD. I was driving northwest when I saw a green fireball out of the corner of my eye. It looked like fireworks, but they were falling instead of going up. There appeared to be 2 or 3 distinct flashes and I would estimate that the whole event took about 2-3 seconds. This was between 9:30-9:35pm on August 23.


  11. Don Wallace says: August 25, 2011 at 12:04 am

    My wife and I were driving up the truck route in Pierre, South Dakota 9:30PM August 23, 2011 when we witnessed what appeared to be a meteor. A very bright blueish white ball of bright fire, about a foot in diameter, fell from the sky and distinguished in a nanosecond approximately 30 feet above the highway 100-200 feet in front of us. It was amazing to see such an event and unbelieveable how quickly the ball of fire disappeared instantaneously.


  12. Kourtny Heid says: August 25, 2011 at 12:19 am

    On August 23rd, 2011 me and my mother were on our way home to McLaughlin, SD from Bismarck, ND between 9 and 10 pm MT. I wasnt paying too much attention and than i noticed it was getting really bright outside, so i looked up and saw the bright green, blue, n red fireball. Before i had opened my mouth to say anything, my mom said “OMG…Do you see that?” I really didnt say anything until it was gone. The first and probably the last experience i will ever have in my life to see a fireball. It was scary and amazing at the same time. You could see the flames.


  13. I’m from Edmonton,Alberta
    August 23rd 2011 shortly after midnight (mountain time) I saw a huge comet or meteorite from start to finish. It was a very intense color show going from orange to blue green flash and I could see the shape of it perfectly. It was a good 4 full seconds long leaving a huge trail behind it of the blue green brightness. Scary stuff


  14. My mom was sitting in the park and saw the fireball. She said she even got out of her truck because she said she thought it was coming toward her. She says it was all orange though and once it hit the treeline it faded out.


  15. Oh this was in Belleville Illinois by the way.


  16. Geraldine Amiel says: August 25, 2011 at 4:01 pm

    between 9:30 and 9:35 on August 23, saw a large and bright bluish green ball of light move from the south-southwest sky to the south-southeast. It was about as bright as the full moon and only lasted for about 10 seconds. Location: Grand Forks, ND.


  17. Jesse Smith says: August 25, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    My girlfriend Katie and I also saw the meteor. We were in Badlands National Park and saw it to the north east. It lasted a good 3 seconds and it looked like someone launched a missile from the treetops toward the ground. Very bright. I going this site to see if anyone else saw it. Incredible, but scary. I was waiting for an impact it was so low but it extinguished before it hit. Based on the other reports it sounds like it was pretty close to us.


  18. I saw the same one really low flying over Kennebec, SD. It looked cool.


  19. I saw it in Mitchell, SD near DWU while on a walk sometime between 9-10. I thought it was a flare or firework because of the bright green color and the brightness.


  20. My boyfriend saw this from the swather on Tuesday night about 9:30 PM in southern Manitoba. He said it was a very bright green ball with an orange tail like a fire ball streaking across the sky. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but he said it was amazing to see!


  21. Steve Welker says: August 26, 2011 at 6:14 pm

    We also saw a bright fireball on August 23 and at aprox 9:30 pm. It came from the south and went north. Lasted longer though. We live in Berne Indiana. Was there anyother sightings in our area?


  22. Our family was travelling East on I-90 between Aberdeen S.D. and Mt. Vernon S.D. – and all 4 of us in the car saw the meteor – from our viewpoint, falling westward.. the meteor was bright yellow (I initially thought it was a shooting star…but it was sooo large)…and turned darker as it fell…with red “fire balls” shooting off the front part of it the lower it got – as it got close to the horizon, it exploded and disappeared.. We were sure we would hear about it hitting the ground. We thought we would feel an impact of some sort, but did not… No one we asked the next day had heard anything about it…. Am glad others witnessed this amazing sight as well. Beautiful – glad our family experienced this!


  23. Réal Arsenault says: August 27, 2011 at 1:34 am

    Sighting time: 21:55hrs (EST). Duration: 5-7 secs. Colour: red and orange with a 2-degree tail (almost on fire).
    My house is about 50-km (30-miles) west of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. During my 30+years as amateur astronomer, I have never seen anything like the August 23rd 2011 sighting. It started at about 35-degrees above the horizon at 170-degrees from due north, then lost sight over behind the roof of my 1-level house at about 30-degrees above the horizon at 140-degrees from due north. By the time I ran to the front of my house, I could no longer see it; fortunately, I heard a sonic boom (10-15db). I estimate that there was a 15-17 seconds delay between the time I first saw it, up to the sonic boom.
    It had an approximate 5-degree easterly declination from the horizontal.

    Strangely, I have never seen such an object in the past. It was almost a controlled re-entry as if was space shuttle. I would I liked to witness the last couple seconds of its journey.


  24. Chris Mortenson says: August 27, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    I too saw this fireball, from the NDSU campus. At first I thought it was a shooting star or something, but was surprised by how bright it was, and by the long, blue green tail. While I didn’t see it in its entirety, it was moving fairly quickly and was quite large.


  25. I was on my back step facing south. The sky was overcast so the first thing I noticed was the clouds turning a bright green. I looked up in the southern sky and saw this coming through the clouds to the southwestern part of the sky. First I thought it was a firework it was a pretty bright green. Then I thought it was a flare. But after it popped through the clouds it started spinning, still bright green, like it was a flat object that caught the wind. Then a flame shot out of it at a 90 degree on one side of the fireball, then it shot straight down to the southwest, in the direction of Valley City from our place.


  26. Earl stottler says: August 28, 2011 at 7:38 pm

    I went out side to put the dog in his kennel and I saw this amazing fireball in the western sky. It was about 9:20 p.m. In Starbuck Minn. A truly wonderful experience..


  27. I saw it headed south on hwy 1.. 2 miles north of Langdon ND… this thing was awesome i actually thought it was an enormous firework then thought it had to be some sort of a meteor… finally I decided to actually google it tonight to make sure i wasn’t nuts haha… very cool experience.


  28. Janis Warne says: August 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm

    While visiting my son Cody Warne, in Pierre, SD at about 9:30p.m. Aug 23, 2011 we too saw a very bright streak across the sky, coming from southeast to northwest. The huge fireball, with a very long tail suddenly exploded, and lit up the sky, casting light on the north side of the house. It was so big, but we did not hear anything. I have never seen anything like it. We wondered how close it was, and now reading other postings, I can only assume it was not so close, but very large.


  29. I saw the bright flash on Aug. 23, 2011 about 9:30 pm CDT too, from Bismarck, ND. I didn’t see the fireball. I saw a very bright flash of white light, very bright and brief, like a flash of lightning very close, but there was no thunder and no storms nearby. There was no sound with it here. I saw the flash of light on south side of neighbor’s house, as if light was coming from south of Bismarck. Light was not in the sky north of Bismarck. From most of the above reports, it was seen west of Moorhead, MN and Steele County, ND, north of Pierre, SD, south of Manitoba, and south of Bismarck, ND. If it ended with the bright flash, it might have ended up between Bismarck, ND and Pierre, SD. If it was moving westward, it might have ended up in western SD or southwest ND? Sparsely populated area, so not likely to find meteorite without a lot of looking. Maybe a rancher will find something. Also, TV meteorologist on KFYR-TV, Bismarck, got many reports of people seeing this too.


  30. Beth DelPivo says: September 5, 2011 at 8:02 am

    Sept.05,2011, My husband and I were walking our two Golden Retrievers and at appr. 6:35 am I looked up and observed a fairly large Green Ball streaking in an arched shaped position across the sky and it had a trail of green behind it.There was no other color visible and I was a bit alarmed having not ever seeing anything like this before. Can this be explained? I would appreciate a reply if anyone has information on this ?. Thank You. We are from St. Lucie West, Florida.


    • Beth, while most fireballs are either white, yellow, or orange, there are minerals present in some fireballs that also produce a green color. Since the human vision is most sensitive in the green wavelength, this color often appears quite vivid.

      I hope this helps!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


  31. We were traveling north from mclaughlin sd between 9:30-10:00pm aug23 2011 and the sky lit up a bright green. My wife and I looked to east and viewed a fireball falling which emitted sparks. After around 4 seconds it appeared it exploded as the green light got very bright. It was like watching a huge roman candle.


  32. Mark Chapman says: September 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    Driving north just outside LaBolt in Grant County SD the sky to the west suddenly lit up about 9:30 pm. A huge green globe with a white tail was shooting straight down to my left (west of my position). I first thought it was a roman candle but quickly realized it had to be a fireball. Lasted nearly 5 seconds. I talked to some friends who said it went from green to yellow to red. I only saw green, flaming like a lantern.


  33. robin nesteruk says: September 15, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Sept 14.2011 @ 7:44 pm. Traveling along S/B 15 frwy @ Indian Truck Trail ..Witnessed a huge fireball traveling overhead and watched and marveled at what I was witnessing..It lasted from first glance to the end about 55 seconds but seemed to have a slower action to it .. it was low apperaring because it was surrounded by canyon and was descending lower as it traveled..It had greenish blue tail…It lasted all the way to the ground or until it settled into the canyon..Most amazing sight to behold..Next time will carry my video cam whenever I travel to record something like this again if I were to be so lucky again…The city I was in was Corona, California…


  34. My wife and I were driving up Harrison Ave in Pierre, South Dakota 8:50PM December 27, 2011 when we witnessed what appeared to be a meteor. I first observed it when it was very high in sky, watching it for 4 to 5 seconds as it fell to earth as a very bright white ball of fire, distinguishing above the ground.


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