Washington-Oregon Fireball August 26, 2011

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The American Meteor Society has received numerous reports of a very bright fireball over the states of Washington and Oregon,  occurring near 11:10pm PDT Friday evening August 26th. Of the two dozen reports received so far, yellow was the most mentioned color. The average brightness reported by witnesses was near the light produce by a half moon.

In the AMS fireball table, refer to event #918 for 2011.

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford



  • Don Smith 12 years ago

    My wife was running Hood to Coast this weekend (I was a driver). We were up in the coast range, near St. Helens, and two of the runners and I saw the fireball. It was huge. I think a half-moon is about right, and it was yellow to us. Pretty long track, maybe fifteen degrees of sky? It was really amazing.

    Reply to Don
  • nicole 12 years ago

    Approximately 8pm on Aug 26, we spotted several orange objects in the sky. My daughter and I saw a total of 8 and my neighbor had seen 4 prior to us coming outside. We all thought a plan was flying over quietly and realized it look a little odd. After a few minutes 1 would disappear and another 2 would show up. After awhile more neighbors gathered to view. We used binoculars and could see a flame around the object but no noise or burning tail. They seemed to follow a pattern but no other reports so far have been received. Any report that anyone knows about, we don’t know who to call or ask?

    Reply to nicole
    • amsadmin 12 years ago

      Nicole, these sound like Chinese lanterns. They were definitely not fireballs…

      Robert Lunsford

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Nathan classen 12 years ago

    I live in Albany Oregon and somewhere around 11:00pm me and about 6 other friends were checking out the stars and to our surprise we seen what looked like a very large shooting star you could see that it was round in shape and you could see a blue ring with flames around it yellow in color and a very bright tail! Lasted about 5 to 6 sec and then disappeared in the horizon… Deffinantly not a plane or rocket moved way too fast!! I would love to know more on this….

    Reply to Nathan
    • amsadmin 12 years ago

      Nathan, what you witnessed was a fireball, which 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 everyday over some parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than a few of these per lifetime as they can also occur during the day or on a cloudy night. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another bright meteor.

      I hope this helps…

      Robert Lunsford

      Reply to amsadmin
    • Rich 12 years ago

      What do you think it was? It did not appear to break up just slow down and then lights out. Where do you think it would have landed if it dropped another 200 feet ?

      Reply to Rich
  • Molly Orman 12 years ago

    We saw this while camping in Cascade Locks! Where we were it was mostly yellow with green and pink mixed in.

    Reply to Molly
  • Sheila Pettit 12 years ago

    I was laying in a hammock watching shooting stars at our property in central Oregon, shortly after 11:00 pm on 8/26/11 and all of a sudden this huge ball was flying across the sky. It was very bright and looked like it was on fire with chunks of flaming debris breaking off of it and a really long and wide double tail! I yelled for the rest of my family to look and it lasted so long everyone was able to turn and see it. It seemed so close and it moved so fast, for a brief moment I felt some fear that it was going to hit earth, then it burnt out! It was the most amazing thing we had ever seen! We had seen about a dozen shooting stars that night and the fireball was definately the grand finale!!!!

    Reply to Sheila
  • Valetta 12 years ago

    We was headding to Idaho leaving Toppenish, WA then we saw this huge flaming meteor with a fire tale behind it. It was changing colors yellow, green, orange and red. And had a bunch of silver sparkles at the head of it. It lasted about 7 seconds. It was one of the most largest and closest I’ve seen in my life. It was so close we took a detour and went looking to see if it hit the ground. No luck but have the memories.

    Reply to Valetta
  • Cindy 12 years ago

    My 22-year-old son and I were out around 11 pm as well and we also saw a large fireball looking in an easterly direction from Salem, Oregon. I do not have an exact date unfortunately, but am sure of the time. But it was the last days of August. We both were speechless as it was descending at a slight angle, maybe from about 30 degrees down to about 15 degrees above the horizon. It lasted for what seemed like a very long time, 5 to 7 seconds. Neither of us had ever seen anything like this before. It was definitely round with a very long, colorful tail. I would say blue, green and yellow were the dominate colors. It almost seemed to sparkle. I believe I can pinpoint the date with a little investigating as to what else I was doing that day and evening if anyone is interested.

    Reply to Cindy
  • Leigh 12 years ago

    My husband and I were on vacation driving east on Rt. 20 from the coast of Oregon heading back to Interstate 5 around 11 PM PST on this date. Not a lot of lights around on the road and the sky was very clear. I was riding in passenger seat. All of a sudden, I saw what I thought was a falling star in the sky that was moving from the middle of the night sky, upper left to lower right in a diagonal streak. The tail that I observed was fairly wide, colorless and appeared to be of medium length. At the end of the streak closest to the earth, it suddenly stopped moving. Right after it stopped, an explosion occurred with a resulting yellow light that was clearly visible to me, like a match flame. The light lasted for quite a while before it stopped. The color of the light that I observed was yellow like the sun. The light flickered like a flame.

    We are now back home in Maryland and as I recalled this event that night, wondered what this was, so did some research on the Internet to find out and found this site. I have seen shooting stars from our deck at night, but nothing like this.

    Reply to Leigh
  • Joe 12 years ago

    A friend and I were camping in the North Cascades when we notices a very bright moving object that was very large. We were tired from hiking and somewhat bewildered because it seemed to be moving so slow. But as the yellow-green object moved across the sky, it seemed to flicker and flame more. After about 7 seconds it broke up and went out. We assumed it was the international space station going down…

    Reply to Joe
  • alexis 12 years ago

    What are your thoughts on the meteor thats coming into our path on September 26th?

    Reply to alexis
    • amsadmin 12 years ago

      Alexis, I am not exactly certain of what object you are referring. The only solid prediction in the near future is the satellite fall of UARS on Friday September 23rd.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • michael zuntag 12 years ago

    Alexis – The object you are speaking of coming into our path on Sept 26 is most likely Comet Elenin, or X2010, or maybe-something-else?

    I guess the American Meteor Society guys and gals don’t share information with the American Comet Society ( and vice-versa). The goverrnment should seriously consider establishing a Homesky Security like (The mother) homeland security. Life is just sooooo much better now that they have made us so safe. underware, shoes, and boogieman bombs oh my! 😮

    I say most likely as this is the date that NASA JPL has provided via their comet tracking site, jpl.gov or similar, and has been a very popular topic on the internet for quite a while. It has even been proposed to be Planet-X, or our sun’s companion, or even a harbinger of something (w*ckEd) this way comes.

    Reply to michael
    • amsadmin 12 years ago

      Michael, the American Meteor Society provides information on “real” phenomena and has no intention of participating in internet conspiracies. The facts are that the Earth will not encounter anything unusual on September 26th and for the foreseeable future. All this conspiracy concerning Comet Elenin is now moot as the comet has disintegrated due to its close approach to the sun. There is enough real phenomena occurring that one does not need to resort to conspiracies for entertainment. Meteor activity is now near its annual apex and not a night passes without an unforgettable bright fireball being seen. Early next month the Earth may pass through a swarm of comet debris, providing a possible meteor outburst for folks in the eastern hemisphere. To the meteor enthusiast, it just doesn’t get much better than that!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Rich 12 years ago

    I have seen the green fire ball three times in the same area over a 21 year period . Every seven years . Mark your calendar for the fourth siting August of 2018. Did any one else see the helicopter searching the area at night for over a week? I have witnessed a fire ball three times in the same area always the same angle same speed same size and color. That is not characteristic of uncontrolled flying objects ? Thank you for all the confirmation of what was in the sky .Has any one seem the fire ball more than once?

    Reply to Rich
  • Doreen 12 years ago

    Wonderful website. Plenty of helpful information here.
    I’m sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious.
    And obviously, thank you to your sweat!

    Reply to Doreen
  • Missi 12 years ago

    On August 26, 2011, I was on a first date in Portland near John’s Landing. We were walking back to my apartment on the sidewalk alongside the Willamette River and talking- it had been a great night, and we really liked each other. There was a bench facing toward the water, and we stopped to sit for a bit before he walked me home. As he leaned in to kiss me there was a massively bright light that brightened the area, and there was a fizzling sound- at first we thought someone nearby had thrown fireworks or something in our direction. I remember the details and so does he, because that night we went back to my apartment and kind of knew it was special. We’ve been together ever since. We’re musicians who often tell the story of the fireball on 8/26/11 that brought us together. 🙂

    Reply to Missi

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