The American Meteor Society has received reports of a bright blue/white fireball that occurred over Kansas and Missouri near 11:00pm CDT on June 3, 2011. The peak brightness was near that of the quarter moon and most witnesses mentioned a persistent train that remained after the fireball had extinguished. To view summaries of these reports visit:
Refer to event #561 for 2011.
The very large fireball appeared to be a blueish white as it hit the atmosphere and almost seemed to hit the atmosphere twice and could hear a faint sonic boom. There was a trail that glowed in the sky for about 5 to 10 seconds after it was gone. This was viewed from south of Sedalia Mo on June 3rd around 10:40 to 11pm. It traveled from the nne to ssw very fast and is the largest I’ve ever seen in person.
My adult son and I just happened to be at the local observatory at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and we were looking at stars/moon/Saturn/satellites with members of the local astronomy society. I was fortunate to be looking up at the eastern sky at that time. Spectacular sight. My son said he saw a bright flash in his peripheral vision because he wasn’t facing directly east.
Elizabeth and All,
That is too bad that the both of you did not see the fireball directly. I have been changing eyepieces at the telescope and had the ground lite up from a fireball. All I saw was the resulting persistent train. At least you folks had a good look at Saturn, which does not move quite as fast as a fireball!
On Saturday, 4 June 2011, sometime between 10:00 PM and midnight I observed a beautiful bright orange ball, I think it was a fireball, traveling in a horizontal line. I’ve never seen anything like it. It seemed to be right above the tree tops. From my perspective it appeared to be about 4 times the size of a basketball. The strange thing was that it seemed to be somewhat translucent yet did not appear to diminish in intensity as if it had a continuous fuel source. I was on my back porch in Summerville, SC. Charleston air force base is not far from me and I live in the flight path. I am curious to know if anyone can explain what I saw and if anyone else observed this? I would appreciate any feedback.
Jessie and All,
Many fireballs are described in this manner. Most fireballs enter the atmosphere at a shallow angle, allowing them to be visible for 5-10 seconds. While they may appear to be close and moving slowly, the slowest fireballs still travel at velocities of over 5 miles per second. This is much faster than a speeding bullet! The closeness is just an illusion as only fireballs that appear directly overhead are relatively close. The closer to the horizon they appear, the further away they are. Fireballs seen near the horizon can be 300 miles away! You will notice in our fireball table that many fireballs are seen over several states, which is a testament to just how high they occur in the atmosphere (average beginning height is near 50 miles altitude). An object the size of a softball, traveling through the atmosphere at such tremendous speeds, can briefly produce the light equivalent to the full moon. While fireballs can be seen at any time, objects of this size are very rare. Most meteoroids (meteors still in space) are only the size of grains of sand. These produce meteors that are too dim to be seen. It takes a meteoroid the size of a small pebble to produce enough light to be seen as a shooting star.
I hope this helps!
American Meteor Society