Large Tennesse Fireball – December 17th, 2013

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The AMS has received over 40 reports so far about a fireball over central Tennessee last night around 8:20 central time. The event was captured by two cameras in the NASA All Sky Fireball Network operated by Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center.


Super Bolide over Tennessee – December 17th, 2013 – Credit NASA / Bill Cooke

The burst from the event was brighter than the full moon.


Super Bolide over Tennessee – December 17th, 2013 – Credit NASA / Bill Cooke

After analyzing the fireball’s brightness, Cooke estimated the bolide to be approximately 12 inches wide and 400 pounds. He also plotted the orbit for the fireball and determined it originated from within the asteroid belt. Based on these two factors, Cooke believes meteorites could have survived to the ground.

Here is a video of the fireball captured by NASA’s cameras.

Here is another video captured by a security camera operated by Jason Reed. Fireball occurs around 15 second mark.

Below are two maps of the fall location and estimated fireball trajectory. One is the trajectory plotted from the fireball reports submitted to the AMS from eye-witnesses. The other trajectory estimate was plotted by NASA using the all sky camera network. This is an excellent example illustrating how valuable and accurate eye witness reports can be. Both estimates are very close to each other.

Tennessee Fireball Trajectory - December 17th, 2013

Tennessee Fireball Trajectory – December 17th, 2013

Click the map images above or below to review the witness reports and interactive map for this fireball event.

Tennessee Fireball Trajectory - December 17th, 2013

Tennessee Fireball Trajectory – December 17th, 2013

Below is an image of the 3D trajectory model computed using the AMS witness reports. This is a new software program we have recently developed that allows us to model the fireball trajectory in 3D and plot the RA/DEC coordinates for its radiant. The vertical red line towards the end of the fireball’s track represents the point the fireball went out and entered dark flight. The RA/DEC coordinates computed for this event are: ra: 75.12070251 / declination: 19.38761852

3D Model of Fireball Trajectory Computed From AMS Witness Reports

3D Model of Fireball Trajectory Computed From AMS Witness Reports

Not to be confused, AMS fireball event #3355 has been verified as a unique and different event that occurred around midnight and was witnessed from Tennessee and neighboring states.

If you witnessed either fireball event, please submit an official fireball report.


  • nick branson 8 years ago

    seen one last night about 8:30pm over south georgia

    Reply to nick
    • Shawn Stratton 8 years ago

      I saw this meteorite from Atlanta traveling northbound on I75 near Dobbins AFB, it was bright enough for me to mistake it as a flare, could potentially be the same object.

      Reply to Shawn
    • Milton Laene Araujo 8 years ago

      On December 17th at approximately 20:30 we were driving north on I-75, approaching Orlando, and we saw this fire ball going down – it was north of us, and everyone on I-75 must have seen it…

      Reply to Milton
  • donna Rice 8 years ago

    how far away could this be seen.we were coming home last night from a school funtion.I believe i saw this.I told my husband that i thought it was a jet falling from the sky.we live in shirrley arkansas.

    Reply to donna
    • amsadmin 8 years ago

      Donna and All,

      This object was probably visible from all states bordering Tennessee plus the southern portions of Illinois, Indiana, and West Virginia.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Shannon 8 years ago

    I saw the fireball in the North East skies of Byhalia, MS! I made a wish on it 🙂

    Reply to Shannon
  • Jackie Wright 8 years ago

    I was sitting in my living room, looking out of my balcony window, from Shepherdsville Kentucky, when I seen a flash of blue and green. I quickly asked my son and his girlfriend if they had seen it. They said no and started teasing me saying i was losing my mind. So i dismissed it as a firework… or an airplane. As the night went on i convinced myself that it was going down. Not up. So this morning i was please to see the report about this on Good Morning America. And now seeiny your web page and the video.. i am certain that is what I saw.

    Reply to Jackie
  • Regina Rourk Childress 8 years ago

    My husband and I were in our backyard last night (8:20PM, Sewanee, TN), and the fireball (3354) was in my direct line of sight. My husband turned around and saw the end of it where it broke up. He said it lit up the yard. It was really cool. I reported the sighting and published a Classified in our local community. At least 3 other people saw it.

    Reply to Regina
  • CLynn 8 years ago

    Can we be sure this is not the result of some sort of military maneuver or testing?
    Just saying…

    Reply to CLynn
    • amsadmin 8 years ago

      Military maneuvers are usually limited to small areas, not a large portion of the country like this event.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • lamdalyn 8 years ago

    Ye 1 week ago me and my fiance and my bff went fishing in delary beach Fl we saw one how can I post a pic here?

    Reply to lamdalyn
    • amsadmin 8 years ago

      If you had time to take a picture then the odds of your object being a true meteor are remote. True meteors are very quick events usually lasting a few seconds at most.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Angie M 8 years ago

    I have NEVER seen an alert like this before!! Is this a usual thing? I’ve been paying close attention to Comet Ison and have been very worried about something hitting earth, from what is left of that. Could this be anything related to that?

    Reply to Angie
    • amsadmin 8 years ago

      Fireballs occur all over the Earth everyday. This is nothing unusual. The remains of comet ISON will pass far above the Earth (40 million miles) later this month. Nothing to worry about there either.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin
  • Sarah Chisholm 8 years ago

    My boyfriend say that he saw this last night. We live in St Louis, MO.

    Reply to Sarah
  • Stephanie Cosby 8 years ago

    I saw an event just like this one described and pictured through a telescope April 12th 2013 around 8pm from Memphis,TN. Another sky-watching person saw it with the naked eye, but I saw the explosion in great detail.

    Reply to Stephanie
  • Brent Peterson 8 years ago

    December 17th, 2013
    23:00 hours(+- 60 sec.)
    My son and I were traveling south on IL Rt. 59 about 1/4 mile north of the I-88 intersection at Naperville, IL(roughly88.5 W and 41.4 N) Heading due south, we saw the “green tinted” fireball at about 170 degrees; it appeared to us that it went straight down without any angle; so we had to be linear with it either coming towards us or sloping away. Approx. half way down, it flashed, like an explosion. We thought it was local….not 500 miles away!

    Brent Peterson
    Northern IL

    Reply to Brent
    • Judy F 8 years ago


      I was in Orland Park, IL traveling South on LaGrange Rd. and saw it in the South sky also.
      South Suburbs of Chicago

      Reply to Judy
  • Brenda 8 years ago

    We were in Orlando, FL and both were looking up at the same time and saw this meteor. It was over in a blink of an eye but there is absolutely no doubt we saw it. We were walking back from dinner. It was our anniversary and we both said it must a sign of good luck. I just now got around to looking if there were any other sightings.

    Reply to Brenda
  • Gerry & Star T. 8 years ago

    Sorry about the delay in posting this response, Christmas is a very busy time of the year for us. Don’t know if it’s the same meteor but this is our story:
    On Tuesday night, December 17th 2013 around 9:15PM EST, my wife and I were driving home from our church small group meeting traveling north on GA highway 74 in Peachtree City. We suddenly noticed a fire ball dropping out of the sky directly in front of us. It was first a yellowish white and then as we were about 100-200 feet from the meteor and at what appeared to be roughly at a height of about 80 feet it swirled while changing to a bluish green then extinguishing before our eyes at what looked like about 15 feet above the ground. By then we were very close to the meteor and were actually concerned that it might impact our vehicle. Assuming the meteor had burned up before our eyes and given the time of the evening we continued driving.
    On the following Sunday morning on our way to church and as we were driving south on GA highway 74, my wife and I were recalling the event. As we approached the location of where we saw the meteor extinguish we noticed an odd black rock lying next to the concrete curb of the center medium. As we were running a bit late to church for rehearsal we agreed to stop on the way home and check it out. Well, we did stop, in the pouring rain and sure enough, we think we have the actual meteor. Actually, one large piece around a pound and a smaller piece about 1/5 the weight of the larger. After doing some research online …… It appears to be one of those 1 in a 1000 carbonaceous chondrites or ………. it could be a big piece of asphalt.
    Anyway, the whole event may have lasted 3 or 4 seconds but it was certainly a once in a lifetime event for my wife and I.
    Oh, I have pictures for anyone who may be interested. We would really like to have it confirmed but have no idea where to take it. If anyone has a contact it would be nice if you could share.
    Gerry and Star

    Reply to Gerry
    • amsadmin 8 years ago

      Gerry and Star,

      I would suggest contacting the nearest university to see if they have a geology department. If so, the head geologist should be able to ID your specimen. If no luck with that approach, try the nearest planetarium or science center. While meteors may appear close, in all actuality, meteors slow to the point of not producing any light at a height of at least 5 miles altitude. There is no way it could have been a few feet away. If you find someone to check your specimen, don’t be surprised if indeed it turns out to be a chunk of worthless asphalt. Meteorites are very rare and take a lot of careful searching. To find one lying by the road would be the luckiest find ever!

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society

      Reply to amsadmin

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