Fireball Over Texas December 7, 2012

The American Meteor Society has received over 100 reports of a bright meteor that occurred near 06:45  CST on Friday December 7, 2012. Brightness estimates of this fireball vary considerably, but the average lies near magnitude -20, which lies between the full moon and the sun. Needless to say, it was very bright! Every color of the rainbow has been reported with green being most mentioned. Below is a map of the witness reports for the Texas fireball event and can also be found in the fireball logs, refer to event 2085.  Click the image below to see the interactive event map.

For those not familiar with meteors and fireballs, a fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of small 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. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another one of these bright meteors.

Meteors often appear much closer than they really are. I receive countless reports that the object landed just over the hill when in fact it was several hundred miles away and was witnessed over several states. 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 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.

Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

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 →
53 Responses
  1. I was outside at work at the time, facing South-South-East over Beltline in Carrollton, TX when I saw it. Beautiful shades of blue and green from my perspective. It was amazing.

    • Vick Ramirez says: December 8, 2012 at 1:53 am

      At 8:00 pm in the night i saw little balls of fire across the sky on december 7 2012 i live in the rio grande valley in city of san juan tx

  2. Roxane Geisler says: December 7, 2012 at 2:16 pm

    I am not sure if this is what I saw, but I did see a meteor (shooting star) at 5:45am Colorado time in the southern sky near Highlands Ranch, CO. I was running on Daniels Park Rd. heading south and the sky was dark. I would love to know if that was what it was! Map link: https://maps.google.com/mapsq=Daniels+Park+Rd,+Highlands+Ranch,+CO&hl=en&ll=39.512947,-104.94087&spn=0.012532,0.030899&sll=39.513361,-104.942114&sspn=0.012531,0.030899&t=h&hnear=Daniels+Park+Rd,+Highlands+Ranch,+Douglas,+Colorado+80130&z=16

  3. Justin Elkins says: December 7, 2012 at 2:25 pm

    It was beautiful! I saw the whole event from entry to burn out! East to West about 70° from here in Galveston. Blue/Green trail, AWESOME!


  4. Tony and Scott steiner says: December 7, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    We saw the meteor in the north Texas town of Aubrey at about 6:45 am. It appeared fairly high in the south east sky going downward and away. It’s vapor trail was bright green and appeared twice in a matter of seconds. It was very fast. It was amazing to see.

  5. I saw this when walking to the schoolbus stop today. Man, it was so bright!

  6. Martha F Proctor says: December 7, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    At 6:40 this morning my girls and I were on our way to school and spotted a meteor that lasted just a matter of seconds….It was incredible and wished everyone could have experienced this event

  7. david malone says: December 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    12/7/2012 6:45am while hunting on the brazos river in know county tx i saw the streak and then a blinding flash and sparkles to dim streak then nothing coulnt find any info till this site thank you my first thought was an EMP flash or satillite or plane so thank you for setting it straight

  8. I was walking the dogs this morning Dec 07 2012 at 6:45 am in Sugar Land, Texas when I noticed that there was a very bright white light behind me. I turned around to see what it was, and up in the sky there was a streak, like that of a meteor that had an amber glow. The glow faded leaving a white streamer like one that a jet would leave behind.

  9. I never look at the sky and I was looking for planet x near the sun and me and my dog saw a bright green light it scared me I was up early and looking at the sky my mom thought I was on drugs. lol

  10. I saw this as well driving south on I45 6:40am. Very cool!!

  11. and im sure a meteor is all it was, were just not supose to talk about it. again.

  12. Traci Kernion says: December 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    I saw this at about 6:30 this morning. It was mostly green with a little blue. I live in Coppell, TX. How cool!

  13. My dad was driving this morning around 6:45 he saw a bright green and blue streek! Lol now everyone thinks the world is ending.

  14. I saw this event this morning on my way to work at about 6:42 am in the Lewisville area traveling I-35 south to Dallas, It was a long streak bright green in color that flashed down from the sky and disappeared with a orange red glow. It happened in the span of 2 seconds. I thought it must have been my imagination, so cool to know what it actually was!

  15. In Euless, Texas between 0640-0645, I was driving to work heading west when a flash of light to the south caught my eye. As I turned to look, I saw a bright streak, falling from east to west, which only lasted for a couple of seconds. I saw the trail that was left behind until its sparkles faded away like fireworks sometimes do. Beautiful.

  16. charles hargrave says: December 8, 2012 at 1:26 am

    I saw it driving my girlfriend to work. She said baby what is that. It was so bright and beautiful. We were talking about our son to be. Wonderful topic and climax. Cannot wait to meet my son Elijah Blake.

  17. We were out riding bikes in the neighborhood(6:30 – 7:00). My husband and I both saw the fire ball and the fire tail behind it. It only lasted a few seconds but it was fantastic. I am glad we were both out that day to corroborate each others view

  18. Claudia Schonfeld says: December 8, 2012 at 2:41 am

    I was driving when I saw this beautiful bright colorful ball falling down. It last for 2 or 3 seconds, I am not sure about this. It was green, blue, pink, and orange. Incredible to have the privilege to see what the sky has to offer.

  19. My kids and I just finished our holiday parade and were on our way home around 9:20 pm in San Luis Obispo, CA Dec 7th and saw our first fireball together!! It was gorgeous, falling slowly straight down to earth! It looked like it changed colors as it fell. Some orange, a little blue and a magnificent green ball at the front!!!! Wow!
    Sorry to crowd in on the Texas fireball, but this is my first time to this website and I don’t know where to report this California sighting. My kids and I feel privileged to have seen this!!

    • Tina D. From California says: December 9, 2012 at 8:30 am

      I saw it too. I was driving south on that long stretch of I-5 towards LA from the Bay Area. I witnessed the entire fall as it changed colors. Red, orange, then a magnificent blue/green and the ball was huge and bright white, It appeared to have fallen straight to earth. If only my son & husband could have been awake. It was about 9:20 PM Pacific Time.

  20. david burton says: December 8, 2012 at 1:26 pm

    Truck driver driving east on Interstate 94 in Montana, it was very dark and then all of a sudden the sky was lit up. Looked out window to the North and saw a fireball for a few seconds. This was near Miles City, MT.

  21. I may have captured this meteor in a still photo taken with an intervalometer in northern New Mexico. I just missed seeing it. I had just woken up in anticipation of sunrise and the next frame in my time lapse had the ISO manually adjusted down.

    • Mike, while you have captured a nice meteor, I do not think it is bright enough qualify as a fireball. Therefore it is not one of the meteors previously mentioned.

      Best Wishes,

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

  22. I saw it too “Beautiful!”
    I was in Victoria tx working outside and a big blue light came down from te sky with a sound. I was like wtf was that!
    It was awesome lucky to see it :)

  23. Jose Loredo says: December 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    Forgot to say I seen it around 6:38am

  24. I was on my way home from Queen Creek,Arizona heading north on ironwood Rd from Bellavista rd at approximately 10 pm when me and my wife saw a huge ball of green light with a fiery tail streak through the southern sky….

  25. I saw a green streak, and then it “exploded”. It was like one upside down fireworks…..right over Deion Sander’s house, or so I thought. I was driving between Gunter, TX and Celina TX.

  26. I know it sounds weird…but I swear I just saw exactly what’s been reported here last night in CALIFORNIA. 10-11pm I believe. HUUUUUGE green light that made the top of the rooftops look like they were glowing

    • I just commented below. We had an experience in Washington state on Friday night, around 10:30-11 p.m. A loud boom and a bright whitish flash. I saw the flash from my house, so I did not see anything in the sky. Many others in my town have reported the same, although we have had no reports of anybody witnessing it outside of their home. I wonder if it is related to the same meteor that was seen in Texas and in your case, California…..

      • Eva,

        It’s definitely not the same meteor as the timing is not the same plus the distance it too far. It’s just a coincidence that these events occurred on the same day.

        Robert Lunsford
        American Meteor Society

        • I was more or less thinking that perhaps there were several meteors, or maybe a larger on that broke apart and went separate ways?? I just seems incredibly coincidental that there could be three of these meteor events in three completely different places but all within the same 24 hour period. Is it possible that it was a larger meteor that broke apart?

  27. While driving east on Hwy 59 from Laredo, Tx towards Freer we got to witness such amazing green light around 6:30am. At first I thought it was a falling star but the color was liike a neon green. After reading of such light being a fireball, one can only not feel amazed but lucky for witnessiing such a beatiful event.

  28. Yesterday 12/7/2012 around 6:40 I was driving on Main St and 121at The Colony TX When I saw a bright ball. It was blue green.

  29. I saw it too! It was foggy outside between 6:30 and 6:45am (2nd foggy day in a row, which is strange for Katy) I was driving to work and suddenly saw a green flash in the sky and heard a boom. At the time, I imagined that it was regular thunder and lightning and that it would rain later, but the whole sky lit up, and I looked around to see if other drivers on the road had seen it, but no one seems to have noticed, people kept driving as usual. Because of the fog, however, I did not see the ball or tail, just a bright green flash.

  30. gloria dörlich says: December 9, 2012 at 1:44 am

    I saw it in Carrollton Texas. I took a couple of pictures from my camera phone. The pictures turned out great,iam happy that I was able to experienced this event. : )

  31. what I have seen in the past 17 with other witnesses around at the time . Are two same sized “fireballs” traveling at the same speed , keeping the same distance from each other . Traveling from the Southeast to north direction . Like two planes or helicopters keeping up with each other . I live within minutes from DFW airport and have so for 23 years now . So i know it wasn’t a plane . they were quiet in nature no entry for me to see or anything . They were just soaring over the sky together . The first one in BOTH instances went the farthest . The second one looked like sparklers turned upside down , and the sparkles floating down towards Earth . They were orange / red in color . And these episodes lasted AT LEAST 2 minutes or longer . As it is documented by a phone call I made to the local PD . I thought it might have been a plane on fire with fire falling from it . The dispatch got a call back while I was on the ph. with her . The officer told her about the Leonid Shower ? Everyone else is saying these episodes flash by in 2 or 3 seconds and are a blueish / green . When mine last 2 minutes or longer , and are orange and red . Anyone have any idea . Like I said this has happened twice in 17 days . And the same thing has happened in both episodes . both I have witnessed along with others .

  32. I was driving South on Hwy 287 about a mile north of the Hwy 67 exit and saw a bright green flash in the sky. I couldn’t tell which direction it was from. I didn’t hear anything, but had the radio up pretty loud. Didn’t know what it was until my girlfriend asked me about it later that evening. I thought one of the plants around Midlothian had some kind of explosion.

  33. I saw it in Needles California . huge green fireball with a tail close to 10 PM. It was an amazingly beautiful site but a bit eerie at the same time since I didn’t know what it was.

  34. I saw this fireball driving to work at NAS Corpus Christi. It was about 6:45 am on dec 7. As I came through the south gate I came to the light which was green. There to the left of the light appeared a big greenish glow with a greenish white tail on the golf course. I was not looking up but straight ahead. It lasted only a couples of seconds but appeared to be about five feet off the ground just in front of me. Never seen anything like this before. Awesome sight to see. I literally though I could find pieces of rocks or some space dusk where it appeared.

  35. I saw this “bright flash” Friday morning Dec 7th around 6:45 while driving down a back country road heading into town in Anderson Texas. I was extremely weirded out at the moment it happened and did not mention it at all during the day until some others mentioned it during lunch. Yes I was afraid of being a crazy redneck that was visited..LOL It was very strange, seeming to imitate from in to outward not out to in like lightning does and was a green blue. It reminded me of every movie scene that has ever shown an EMP blast. I am still not believing the theories of what it was.

  36. derle cuellar says: December 10, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    my wife saw it ,, we live between lubbock tx and amarillo tx.

  37. I live in Washington state. Very late Friday evening, the same day this happened in Texas, many people in my little town, including myself, experienced a strange thing, and I am wondering if it could be related to this meteorite?? It was almost 11 p.m., my girls and I were awake watching as movie. Suddenly there was this very loud “BOOM” and a white flash of light that seemed like it came from my back yard! Many of my neighbors heard and saw it too, and someone called the police thinking someone had fired a gun. Well after a few tense moments in the neighborhood, the cops realized that people from all over town, from one end to the other, were calling in reporting this loud boom and bright white flash of light. No one has been able to explain it, it was not a transformer, it was not lightning or a gun, it had to have been something high in the sky so that people from many different vantage points throughout town were able to see it. There has been speculation, even before the reports of this fireball in Texas, that it was a meteor entering the atmosphere. Is this possible???

  38. Thellis Ann Brown says: December 11, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I was traveling to work on December the 7th, and approximately 6:50 a.m. saw this streak of white in the sky on the right side of my car. I thought at first it was a jet stream as it streaked in front of me. After it was on my left I could see the bright bluish green light that seemed to go out.

  39. Samantha Caruso says: December 12, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I saw this light about the same time 6:50am
    Isaw sitting on my patio just before I left for work.
    It was very bright blue like when a flame come from a tourch.

  40. What do you make of this one shot dec 7 in the evening near phoenix arizona by my friend? Here’s the video http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10151258090148643&comment_id=24510251&notif_t=video_comment_tagged

    It does not match your color descriptions at all but it’s surely strange movement in the sky!

    • Your video looks like two satellites that pass into the Earth’s shadow. They show constant motion and then they are gone. They shine by reflected sunlight so when the sun sets on them they are no longer illuminated.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

  41. I’ve seen two in two different states. The first on Nov 6 early in the morning in Alabama, driving back to Texas. The second early Dec. This all happened before the 7th, when everyone started saying they also saw one. Both times I saw the same thing, a bright green ball falling straight down.

  42. Victor Holguin says: December 16, 2013 at 10:45 am

    Back around 2003 I had seen this big ball of light with sparkles off of I-20 somewhere between Odessa and El Paso around 12am. If you were to tell me that it was a meteor I would believe you, the only problem is it came up from the ground behind a hill and went back down. It was very dark and the only reason I knew there was a hill wass because of this object. It was probably the size of 5 or 6 midsize cars and had a lot of sparkles behind it. Just wondering now what was it and if it was man made? Sorry for the short detail if someone could give me an idea of what it may have been I will be satisfied.. Thanks

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