Two Fireballs on March 5, 2012

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The American Meteor Society has received reports of two more bright fireballs occurring on March 5th. We have received approximately 20 reports of the first fireball, which appeared near 5:35am CST (6:35am EST). It appeared over the mid-western states ranging from Alabama north to Ohio. The brightness of this fireball was equivalent to the half illuminated moon and the most mentioned color was blue-white. Refer to event #327 in the AMS Fireball Table.

The second fireball occurred near 20:00 EST (8:00pm) and was seen over the northeastern states ranging from Virginia northward to Massachusetts. The nearly 60 reports indicate a peak brightness near that of the half illuminated moon and a blue-white or green-white color. Refer to event #331 in the AMS Fireball Table.

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 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.

Clear Skies!

Robert Lunsford



  • Mark Lord 12 years ago

    I was driving down I-24 early March 5th, 2012 and while I was driving I saw a bright green light streaking thru the sky. It lit the sky up like the moon and as I watched quickly streaked away like a firework it was gone. This was around 4 in the morning or so. This kind of frighten me at first because i thought it was a plane or something…

    Reply to Mark
  • Jeff Horton 12 years ago

    I saw the first fireball meteor this article talks about in Northeast Mississippi on Bay Springs at 5:30am! Thanks you for sharing info! Now my fishing buddy can’t say that I’m crazy! LOL! I was so awe struck that I didn’t draw his attention to it soon enough for him to see but talked about it for the rest of the day!

    Reply to Jeff
  • Jeff Horton 12 years ago

    I meant to say Bay Springs lake….just as we were leaving boat ramp to go fishing!

    Reply to Jeff
  • Mark 12 years ago

    I was walking my dog at about 8:00 PM when I saw a very bright flash above me. At first I thought it was lightning, but then I noticed the meteor heading from the Southern eastern part of the sky to the Northern part. I was heading North East when it past over my right shoulder and ahead of me. I live in Gainesville, VA and actually called my wife on my cell phone to tell her about it. My dog Ruger, had no response.

    Reply to Mark
    • Robin Fisher 12 years ago

      My grandson and I saw a fireball at just before 8 pm, as we were leaving cub scouts, but it was on Tuesday, March 6th. What night did you see it, the 5th or the 6th?

      Reply to Robin
      • Robin Fisher 12 years ago

        Acrtually , i just checked my facebook page & we did see it on Monday night the 5th. mY grandson will be so excited to hear that others saw it too!

        Reply to Robin
  • jenna 12 years ago

    I was outside with the dog at approximately 8pm in West Chester, PA and spotted the fireball. A big fast flying white ball with an orangey trail and sparks, crazy! Moments later my husband called and happened to look up and see it too from 3 miles away. Which is pretty random. Amazing site, I wish the kids could have seen it too. I guess no one has a photo or video?

    Reply to jenna
    • Ron Contrady 12 years ago

      On my way home to West Chester, PA while traveling home around 8:00pm in Concordville, PA I seen a greenish fireball. Awesome sight!

      Reply to Ron
  • David Giblin 12 years ago

    I was Driving in Otis Massachusetts to a friends house when I seen a bright blue ball followed by a long blue streak moving across the sky at an incredible rate of speed. I tried to get a picture but it was in and out of sight in a matter of seconds.

    Reply to David
  • Kurt 12 years ago

    I saw the 5:35 am one on my way to work. It started Greenish then turned bright white, later I wondered if the tinting on top of front window efected color change. It streaked down then split in two about 35 deg, above horizon and both segments were bright all the way down. IT WAS GREAT.

    Reply to Kurt
  • Michael 12 years ago

    I was driving north on I-81 between Martinsburg WV and Hagerstown Maryland; the clock in my rental car said 7:59pm. I believe I was heading in a northeastern direction at the time I saw the meteor. It was very bright heading from right to left; probably southeast towards north. It was the brightest meteor I have ever seen; very cool, and I’ve gone outside the past two years for the Perseids Meteor shower. It was blue with a white trail and the tip (head) looked orange/red; i believe. It had an elevation of around 30 deg.

    Reply to Michael
  • David Terrazas 12 years ago

    I was heading West on Route 12B/Utica street about a mile east of Clinton, NY on March 5th at approximately 7:58pm EST. I caught a bright flash in the corner of my eye directly to my left, which then I quickly looked to the Southwest portion of the sky and only about 10-20 degrees up from the horizon. Through the trees I saw a brilliant fireball racing towards the western horizon. It was moving remarkably fast and I immediately told my kids to look, of course it was too late. But that then, worked its way into to a lengthy conversation with them about what meteors are, where they come from and all sorts of other facts they wanted to know. I was still unsure if what I saw was actually a fireball or not. Like I said, I was looking through some pretty dense trees and driving at the same time. I then received a phone call on March 8th from a local person who lives in a town about 20-30 miles east of my location. He got my number form my astronomy club’s website. He wanted to know what he saw that night. I then had my conformation. Very cool, now for some auroras!!!

    Reply to David
  • vernon 12 years ago

    There was another fireball meteor on March 8th over Topeka, Kansas at approx 2345. I haven’t seen any reports on it yet but after watching videos of other meteors of this type I am almost 100% positive that is what I watched it was bright enough to illuminate my back yard and at first i thought it was a spot light on a helicopter until i saw a tail and then it went out

    Reply to vernon
  • Denise 12 years ago

    I stepped out my front door to leave for work at 5:30 a.m. CST. This sighting is 40 miles south of St. Louis, Missouri near the Mississippi River. I saw a white twinkling ball low in the southeastern sky. It was at least 6-8 times the size as the North Star. It disappeared after about 5 minutes. It was just a ball with no tail, but very twinkly. I looked up info on meteor sightings and found this site. It’s exciting to see that others have posted similar sightings over the past couple days. If I’d been just a few minutes later, I would have missed it entirely.

    Reply to Denise
  • Lisa Meissner 12 years ago

    Spotted a fireball between 7 and 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 9, 2012 just below Orion. Short tail was yellow/white with a slight showing of green.

    Reply to Lisa
  • Alison 12 years ago

    We saw a fireball in south jersey March 10th at 4:15 am, towards the north kinda low in the sky, it was streaked down orange in color with some green and fizzled out.

    Reply to Alison
  • Tammy 12 years ago

    My husband and I were taking our dogs out last night (actually this morning) at approx 1:00am EDT looking straight up I saw a bright flash in the sky. At first I thought it was a shooting star as we do see many here in mountains of Northeastern P.A. But this one was different, it was extremely bright, flashed and then it was gone. For lack of a better word it was like something had blown up. I have to admit I did get a bit nervous and started think there might be some debris that may follow, but that did not happen (at least to my knowledge). Did anyone else see this flash? I cannot find any reports online.

    Reply to Tammy
    • amsadmin 12 years ago

      Tammy and All,

      There have not been any more reports so far which is not surprising due to the hour of night. I would suggest keeping check on our fireball table for 2012 to see if anyone adds a report matching your fireball.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Adam 12 years ago

    March 5th 530est i also witnessed a white fireball with a green tail traveling from west to east I was driving south in nw indiana. I watched it for 4-6 seconds before trees blocked my view. It looked large and very far away. Looked like a rocket at first.

    Reply to Adam
  • lisa 12 years ago

    Saw one this morning about 530 am bright green here in huntgsville,al

    Reply to lisa
  • SawOne2 12 years ago

    We saw one too: BIG bright ORANGE FIREBALL not sure of the date but my wife saw one before like 2 or 2 1/2 weeks before 03/22/2012. On 03/22/2012 we saw another BIG bright ORANGE FIREBALL. Tonight we saw a much dimmer white one due to the cloud cover at 09:17 EST on 03/24/2012. All moving E to N/NW this must be something traveling into Earth’s orbit, even if it’s space junk shouldn’t we know about it (so we don’t panic)? There is no way I have seen 3 metors in the time of 1 month? Nothing on the local news. Nothing on line. I was not the only one who saw it. So what are they not telling us? I always check the sky at night. Now I always make sure I can see all directions?

    Reply to SawOne2
    • amsadmin 12 years ago

      If you check our fireball table you will notice that fireballs are occurring every day. While the odds are long that your wife and yourself would see different fireballs in the same month, it is not impossible. Regular meteors are thousands of times more numerous than bright fireballs. Anyone with a fairly dark sky can see regular meteors on any night of the year. Therefore there is no need to jump to conclusions about seeing three meteors within a months time.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • catherine 12 years ago

    I saw a fireball that was blue/white in color over Marin County looking to the East tonight November 27th 2012 at approximately 10:30. I didn’t understand what I saw until I came across this page. I have seen countless meteor showers in Hawaii in August and had never seen anything as bright or as blue/white as this object. It was heading in a South to North direction and for some reason I decided to look out my kitchen window at exactly the right time! What a treat!

    Reply to catherine

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