15
Jun
2012

Upper Mid-Eastern USA Fireball June 14, 2012

The American Meteor Society has received 32 reports of a bright fireball over much of the upper Mideastern states and southern Canada including Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, Vermont, and Ontario. This event occurred near 09:52pm EDT Thursday evening June 14th. Reports of many different colors have been received, with blue and green being most mentioned.  The average brightness reported by witnesses was near the light produced by a half moon.

A fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of tiny pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Even though fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth, it is rare though for an individual to see more than a couple of these bright meteors per lifetime as they also occur during the day (when the blinding sun can obscure them), or on a cloudy night, or over the ocean where there is no one to witness them. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another bright meteor.

Fireballs often appear much closer than they really are. The AMS receives countless reports that an object landed just over the hill when in fact it was several hundred miles away and was witnessed over several states or provinces. It is your perspective that makes meteors appear to strike the horizon when in fact they are still high in the atmosphere. This is much like a jetliner seen low in your sky. It appears low to you and close to the ground, but for someone located many miles away in that direction, the jetliner is passing high overhead. Meteors become visible at approximately 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. Friction slows these objects down until they fall below the velocity necessary to produce light. At this point they still lie at least 5 miles high in the sky. They are invisible below this altitude and cannot be seen as they basically free falling to the ground at 200mph. Very few meteors actually reach the ground as 99.99% completely disintegrate while still 10-20 miles up in the atmosphere.

In the AMS fireball table, refer to event #832 for 2012.

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 →
17 Responses
  1. mike paone says: June 15, 2012 at 10:40 am

    thanks not crazy saw on way home in down town latrobe pa guess i was onkly one though becouse only lasted about 2 seconds befor past feild of vission thanks again


  2. bob morgan says: June 15, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    I was outside arestaurant in Kincardine Ontario Canada when i saw a greenish fireball rapidly move from what I guess was southeast to northwest only visible for a few seconds. Again greenish in color with what looked like flames aroiund it no apparent break up.


  3. was up fishing between sudbury and timmins ontario canada and seen the fireball at about 10 p.m. biggest thing i ever saw come out of the sky.


  4. I was out in the country, in central Illinois, with some friends and we saw one green “fireball’ and then another one around 10 minutes later. It was pretty late so I’m going to guess around 2 in the morning. We didn’t knoe what they were, but they were super green, bright and bigger than any shooting star I’ve ever seen. It was pretty cool.


  5. Saw this on my way home from work last night in St. Catharines. 9:55ish…appeared to be travelling north west to west extremely fast. Saw a white tail, then green flash, then nothing for a brief moment, then the same thing again with a brighter flash. Happy to have been looking that way. Wondering if anyone found any fragments?


  6. I was in Jamestown NY coming out of the Wegmans supermarket (which faces north) when I saw it. It was a greenish color and lasted for about a second and a half. Pretty awesome and I felt bad that my gf missed it. I’ve only seen one other meteorite that color and size and that was more than 20 years ago.


  7. June 14, 2012, Middlebury Vermont: I saw from my upstairs window, looking west towards the Adirondacks at dusk, a green and white sparking ball, short tail, falling at a sharp arc straight down infront of the mountains and below the dark ridge of trees in my view. It hit the ground south of Middlebury or in Lake Champlain???


  8. Irene Green says: June 16, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    I was looking out my back window which faces west and saw a bright “fireball” with a long white tail, it was heading northwest and then it looked like it exploded, it was like a huge firework and then a small fireball continued and went out of site. I live in Maynooth Ontario and this was around 10:55 pm on Thursday June 14th. It was the most spectacular thing I have ever saw, glad I was looking outside at that time.


  9. I was driving north on the 410 nearing Brampton, Ontario at about 9:50 p.m. when I saw a bright white sphere falling through the sky leaving a long, thin tail. It looked like it was going to hit the ground just ahead of me and then it disappeared. Fascinating to know it was actually miles above!


  10. Observed bright green object falling in an arch pattern into Lake Erie between North side of Middle Bass Island Ohio and west side of Pelee Island. It was so bright it caught my attention from reading at 9:52pm Thursday June 14, 2012. I thought someone had shot a signal flare or firecracker but there were no boats or people on the north side of island. Glad to see that there was a meteor observed b/c I could not believe what I saw.


  11. I saw it while traveling west on the NY Thruway from NJ to buffalo and initially thought it was a firework from some distant town. It fell in an arc emitting at first a white glow and then sparked from green to blue as it fell. Amazing – so glad I found some other reports on the net. I’ve seen meteor showers before but nothing like this – glad I had the opportunity to catch it.


  12. Just seen 2 red/orange LARGE fireballs moving east to west on Long island (suffolk county)ny at apprx. 10 pm. Craziest thing i ever saw. they were both in line i thought they were planes on fire at first. this is nuts. i am trying to find out if any one else seen it?


  13. Satish Deshpande says: June 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    I also saw this in Guelph Ontario. It was a remarkable sight with blue and red colors that stretched across about 10-15 moon diameters across the sky. Any chance it was related to the asteroid that passed near earth?


  14. Richard Makepeace says: June 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    I saw this fireball while traveling north on I-75 in northern Ohio. It was low on the horizon traveling from right to left. It appeared to have a very definite green color.


  15. Was northbound on the QEW approaching the high bridge near Hamilton, Ontario. Meteor passed from high on my right (northeast) to low just left of center (north-northwest). Definitely a greenish trail, and it appeared to break up into two or more pieces just before it burned out. Best meteor I’ve seen in years.


  16. Federico Zamora says: September 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    Hi. I’ve been pretty thrilled with the news of this sighting. I am from Costa Rica, Central America, and even though I did not see this one, I couldn’t help recalling an experience I had back in 1980. I was only 14 years old, but I can see the whole thing in my mind as clear as if I was standing again at that beach right now, such was the magnitude of the impression.
    I was taking a walk with my brother at around 10pm, in what then used to be a deserted tropical beach in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. We were looking for shells and chasing crabs down the beach using a flashlight. The night was pitch dark, and the only other light came from an ocean of stars above us. There was no wind and we could hear nothing but the soft sound of the crashing waves next to us. Our parents and some friends had lit a fire next to our camping tents, and we could see the faint light of the fire in the distance; we were already about half a mile away from them, and there were no other signs of people in sight.
    Suddenly, out of nowhere, a strong white light shone through the coconut palm trees, coming low from the East, projecting confusing shadows on us. At that time, we used to have a very irregular power supply where we lived, so I rose my head, looked at my brother and said the first thing that came to mind: “hey…the power’s back!” Immediately I realized what I had just said, and the fact that I was standing on a dark beach in the middle of nowhere. “Power??? What power???” And that’s when we turned around to find the source of that intense light. We stared in total awe at a HUGE blueish-green sparking fireball which glowed with this blinding white light, crossing the sky almost overhead from East to West, leaving a long trail of smoke after it, which brightly reflected it’s white light. The fireball described a long arch across the sky, horizon to horizon, and dissapeared in the ocean, far away. We held our breaths expecting to see an explosion of some sort when it fell in the water, but fortunatelly it never happened. I figured years later that either the meteor crashed much farther away in the middle of the Pacific, or it just bounced out of our atmosphere again.
    The fireball’s size was unreal – it was the size of the full moon at the zenith, and the light it shone turned the night into day for an instant. The whole show must have lasted no less than 7 seconds from the moment we saw it straight on until it went beyond the horizon.
    We were only kids then, and having no idea what was it we’d just seen, we were scared out of our minds, and screaming like crazy, we ran the half mile back to our folks as if we had an entire army of alien monsters on our arse.
    It was the most astonishing thing nature ever threw at me, and to this date, there has been no other meteor sighting that ever came close. So, I’m really glad to read your stories from this recent event, for I had started to believe it had all been not more than a figment of my juvenile imagination.


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