15
Sep
2011

Major Fireball Event Seen From Southern California, Arizona and Nevada – September 14th, 2011 @ 9:45 PDT

The American Meteor Society has received over 100 fireball reports so far regarding a large fireball seen last night in the south west United States.

Here is a video of the fireball that was submitted to the AMS website:

Here’s a map of the fireball witness reports. The icons of people represent where the witnesses saw the meteor from. The green icon indicates the witness reported movement from right to left, the red icon means movement from left to right. The green lines represent where the witness first saw the fireball, the yellow line is where the fireball was last sighted. Please keep in mind not all witnesses can report exactly what they saw and there are inconsistencies with data reported from witnesses. Click the map graphic below for an interactive google maps fireball report viewer.

September 14th, 2011 - South West Fireball

We are in the process of plotting the trajectory but this is a bit challenging due to the large number of reports and inconsistencies between reports. Right now, the best guess for an end point is slightly north east of Yuma Arizona and south west of Phoenix.

We will update this post with more information as it becomes available.

If you witnessed this event, please fill out a fireball report.

About Mike Hankey

Mike Hankey is a software developer, entrepreneur, amateur astronomer, astrophotographer, meteor observer and meteorite hunter. Mike's enthusiasm for meteors led him to the American Meteor Society where he volunteered his time and the services of his software development company to redesign the AMS website and fireball reporting tool. In 2011 Mike was awarded the society's C.P. Olivier award for his work. In 2012 Mike was promoted to the role of Operations Manager. Mike and his company continue to maintain and enhance the AMS website and fireball reporting tools. You can see Mike's photography work and read more of his posts on his astronomy blog: MikesAstroPhotos.com. Mike can be contacted at mike.hankey [AT] gmail.com
10 Responses
  1. Mike, you might want to review what the colors of the paths and “persons” mean.

    MW


  2. keith puckett says: September 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I saw the fireball very clearly from phoenix. It was spitting pieces off right at the very end of its visible flight. I was on the patio of my house and can accuratley tell you where it stopped being visible, and its trajectory. It was definitely a once in a lifetime event.


  3. On september 9th Nasa announced that there would be a dead satellite coming down later in the month. They did not know for sure where or when, but they did say it would re-enter across mid latitudes. Their estimate of 1000 lbs of debris is important as a reference for visual comparison. One ‘expert’ stated the meteor size was equal to that of a baseball,, doubtful for sure,,, but easy to verify scientifically,, if someone is up for a challenge,, lets drop a few softball size anvil-like objects from space. We cold also ask nasa if their satelite came down on the 14th.. To claim that this is a meteor is a bit premature. dzp


  4. I’m working a means of locating the path of the fireball that uses a more sophisticated method involving geometry and assumptions about the altitude of the object. But the data that is publicly available doesn’t seem to include the exact positions of the observes. Is there a way I can obtain these data?

    Also, I think there may be a bug in the form processing for the reports. Many reports are labeled “moving left to right” when the report and other observations indicate the opposite.


  5. @DZ – the satellite you reference has still not fallen. They expect it to come down this thursday or friday. I also suspected space trash at first because of the shallow entry angle and overall reported duration. However, Marco Langbroek pointed out on meteor obs mailing list: “A check of SSC Space-Track data shows there is no suitable decay candidate for that date.” The JPL also believes the event was a meteor: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2011-291

    @Wayne – Thanks for the suggestions, I will add extra explanations to the post.

    @Greg – You can email me through the contact form and request specific witness accounts and I can give you more precise coordinates. You can also use the map tool to get a more exact location.


  6. Robert Lee Nance III says: September 19, 2011 at 4:08 pm

    I would like to remind the dedicated that most humans have no idea which compass bearings relate to their current position.Nothing moves through the air space of North America that is not measured for size or shape.Ascending/descending velocity,altitude and attitude are all instantaneously calculated and verified.It is possible to obtain temperatures across the entire surface of the entry object,rate of oblation and if necessary core temperatures.Should the NEO,meteor,entry vehicle fragment or mrv each seperate piece and all of the above can take place.Any trajectory deviations would be detected and impact points determined and/or recalculated.Should mass be sufficient for the soon to be meteor”ite” to impact then that location can be determined within [(classified)(need to know)].Let us agree upon a one/eighth of a mile impact zone,+/- 111 yrds.Now we have land fall…Who is in the Osprey with me on the retrieval team??Ah… you say,the loadout?Your right!Probably should have two birds.


  7. This is the meteor fireball I witnessed on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 when I was driving on Prescott Lakes Parkway to the south between Willow Lake Road and State Route 89 in Prescott, Arizona. It was 7:45 PM. The green glow was flying across my field of vision almost horizontally from west to east (right to left). It lasted for about 10 seconds before it disappeared behind a mountain. It was so huge that I thought it was a falling aircraft at first! I have never seen such a huge meteorite flying for such long duration.


  8. Kevin in Vegas says: September 26, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    This is my observation, I wrote it down as quickly as I could after the sighting. I always look at the time when I witness something like this.
    I was driving southbound on I-95 south of Cheyenne Avenue in Las Vegas at 7:45 local time when I saw it. It was a huge green fireball meteor, moving west to east from my perspective. I first spotted it roughly 25-30 degrees above the southern horizon, until it burned out around 10 degrees above the horizon. I would estimate it tracked across 50 degrees of the sky, lasted probably 3 seconds, and the center of the track was directly in front of me, though I likely missed some of it before it caught my attention. It was glowing mostly green (tending a little towards the blue end of green?), but there were other colors in the fragments that were breaking off.


  9. I, too saw this brilliant green fireball on September 14, 2011 at around 7:45pm from the city of Maricopa, AZ. I was sitting in my sons backyard which faces south when I saw to my right (west) a bright green glow coming from the west and as it got closer and came into view from behind a tree on the west side of his yard I saw that it was a large brilliant glowing green ball of light traveling west to east parallel to the ground at about the height of the two story house across the road from my son’s backyard. It was huge and the best I can describe the size is like if you held a tennis ball or baseball in your hand at arms length. My two son’s and I watched it as it passed by from the west side of his yard (to me it looked like it was going straight down the street behind his house about the height of the two story house on the other side of street) to the west… like I said it was an extremely brilliant green ball, and out of the back of it (which would be on the west side looking at it) was what I can only describe as what looked like those brilliant golden sparklers you get for the 4th of July. The sparks were very clear. It was absolutely beautiful! What was interesting to me was that you could clearly see the ball shape and the sparkler part seemed to just be attached to the back of this ball if that makes any sense? When it traveled to about the half way point of my son’s backyard still going parallel to the ground, it suddenly just disappeared. There was no sound, and no smell, however, I did hear a very soft hissing sound for about one second which abruptly stopped at the same time it suddenly and instantly disappeared right in front of our eyes. It almost seemed to be going in slow motion, but the whole experience from the time I saw the green glow in the west until seeing the actual object disappear in front of us was probably no more than 10-12 seconds…possibly 15. It seemed a lot longer though. Very exciting to see!!! Fantastic experience!


  10. About 20 minutes ago at 8:40PM and I was laying in bed watching the planes fly in over and over. Suddenly, there it was, a fireball just sitting there in the path of the incoming planes. Not knowing what it was I ran to get my daughter in law and she said, she just wanted to run, she thought it was coming toward our house. As we watched, it began to rise up in the sky, and in 2 seconds it was gone. It did not fall to earth, it rose up. Sure would like to know what that was.


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