The American Meteor Society has so far received approximately 125 reports of a dazzling fireball over much of the United Kingdom. This event occurred near 21:40Â GMT (9:40pm) on Saturday evening March 3rd. Reports of many different colors of this object have been received, with orange being most mentioned.Â The average brightness reported by witnesses was in excess of the light produced by a full moon. This fireball lasted an extraordinary long time, up to 20 seconds as reported by some observers. Videos confirm a duration of at least 15 seconds. Links to these videos have been posted to meteorobs by well known meteor publicist Daniel Fischer at:
Thanks to Daniel for providing this link!
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. 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 can 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 freefalling 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 #322 for 2012.
Reports for the March 3rd UK fireball continue to come into the AMS.
Below is a map of the witness reports for this event. Click the map for an interactive Google Map for this event. You can click the witness icons on the map to read the reports. Green lines represent the first point of the meteor, while yellow lines represent the last point of the meteor. Red icons mean, movement was seen left to right, while green icons represent reported movement of right to left.
You can view the map of witness reports by observer’s experience level.
Numerous witness reports indicated the presence of fragmentation and a sonic booms, both positive signs for meteorite dropping fireballs. Based on a review of the witness reports, if fragments from the fireball survived, they may have made landfall north west of London. Since several videos were recorded, so it should be possible to determine a 3D trajectory for this meteor.
If you witnessed this fireball event, please fill out an official fireball report.