The American Meteor Society has received 45 reports of a bright meteor that occurred at 21:48 (9:48pmÂ EDT) on Wednesday August 29th 2012. Reports have been received as far south as North Carolina, as far north as Pennsylvania, as far east as Virginia, and as far west as Tennessee. Brightness estimates of this fireball average about the light produced by a full moon. Many different colors were reported with green and blue being the most predominant. Individual reports may be viewed in the 2012 AMS Fireball Table Refer to event #1224 for 2012.
Stuart McDaniel of the Cleveland County Astronomical Society of North Carolina has captured this event on his Sentinel All Sky Camera. He has graciously posted his video to You Tube so that all may view this event. You may view his video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAjv5kyrNa0&feature=youtu.be
Notice that the skies were mostly cloudy from his location yet the fireball is visible through the clouds attesting to its brightness. Many thanks to Stuart for posting his link to “Meteorobs” and making it available quickly so that we all may view it!
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.
American Meteor Society