Four fireballs spotted during the week-end

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We received 791 fireball reports during the week-end, mainly from the US, the UK and from France.

Daylight Fireball over the English Channel on Friday, 19th

Thanks to our European partners Vigie-Ciel (FR) and UKMON (UK), we received 125 reports so far about a daylight fireball event that occurred over the English Channel on Saturday, March 20th 2021 around 14:50 UT. The AMS #2021-978 event was mainly seen from West of France (Brittany, Normandy and Parisian region) and from South West England and Wales.

Many witness from the UK heard a sonic boom and Soundcloud user Joseph Stockwell had the chance to record the event:

UK driver, Jan Dryhurst caught the event on his dashcam (at 0:12) :

Fireball over Tampa Bay, on Saturday 20th, 8:30 PM EDT

Even though there was significant cloud cover, 60 of eyewitnesses in middle Florida reported us seeing a bright fireball around 8:32 PM Eastern Daylight Time (2021-03-21 00:30 Universal Time). An analysis of these reports indicated that the meteor was first seen at an altitude of 52 miles above Tampa Bay, moving a little south of west at 48,000 miles per hour. It ablated 33 miles over the Gulf of Mexico after traveling 39 miles through the atmosphere (study: NASA from the AMS reports).

Unfortunately, we didn’t receive any video about this event yet.

80 eyewitness reports from California, Nevada & Arizona – Saturday 20th

Few hours later, at least 80 people (mainly from California but also from Nevada and Arizona) reported a slow fireball seen between Las Vegas, NV and Bakersfield CA around 7:50 PM Pacific Daylight Time (2021-03-21 02:50 Universal Time). Analysis of these reports indicates that the AMS event #1787-2021 was first spotted 60 miles above Church Dome in the Sequoia National Forest northeast of Bakersfield. It moved south of east at 86,000 miles per hour before ablating 43 miles above Goldstone, traveling a total distance of 87 miles in just under 4 seconds (study: NASA from the AMS reports)..

E. Rosen from Solana Beach caught the event on this door bell cam:

Bright fireball over Pennsylvania, on Sunday March 21st, 0:30 AM EDT

Last but not least, we received more than 240 reports (and counting) about another fireball spotted over Pennsylvania on Sunday March 21st, 0:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time (04:30 Universal Time). The event has mainly been seen from Pennsylvania, but we also received reports from Connecticut, Washington DC, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and from Ontario and Québec.

A analysis lead by NASA shows that the object first became visible 55 miles (88 km) above the town of Greenstone, near the Pennsylvania / Maryland border. Moving northwest at 51,000 miles per hour (23 km/s), the fireball traversed 38 miles (61 km) through the atmosphere before fragmenting 28 miles (45 km) above the Pennsylvania town of Newburg. The orbit of the object and the brightness of the event (roughly that of the gibbous Moon) indicate that the fireball was caused by an asteroidal fragment weighing 7 pounds (3 kg) and about 5 inches (13 cm) in diameter.

Below is a quick compilation of some of the videos we received about this event:

Fireball, Bolide?

Several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day. The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight. Those that occur at night also stand little chance of being detected due to the relatively low numbers of persons out to notice them.

Additionally, the brighter the fireball, the more rare is the event. As a general thumb rule, there are only about 1/3 as many fireballs present for each successively brighter magnitude class, following an exponential decrease. Experienced observers can expect to see only about 1 fireball of magnitude -6 or better for every 200 hours of meteor observing, while a fireball of magnitude -4 can be expected about once every 20 hours or so.

AMS TERMINOLOGY

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15 comments

  • Brock 1 month ago

    Around 12:30AM on March 21, dozens of people in my community (in and near Corning, NY about 15 miles from the NY-PA border) reported a loud boom and felt their houses shaking. Could this be related? Some of the people reporting this online 10-25 miles apart, and there has been no satisfactory explanation in terms of some local even (e.g., explosion).

    Reply to Brock
    • Robert Lunsford 1 month ago

      Brock and All,

      Our computerized trajectory, which is normally close to the actual trajectory, indicates that the fireball that occurred at 12:25am EDT on March 21st, flew NNW over south-central Pennsylvania. Only locations under the flight path normally hear sounds from fireballs. Your location on the PA/NY border appears to be too far away to hear anything from this fireball. So unless our trajectory is in serious error, the sound you heard at that time was not related to this fireball. I checked for other fireballs at that same time and closer to your location, but nothing else was noted.

      Reply to Robert
      • Nathan Owens 1 month ago

        I witnessed and also heard a boom from the approximate trajectory of this comment. Boom happened 1-2mins after we saw the fireball. I was in Washington Boro PA

        Reply to Nathan
  • T. B. Hoey 1 month ago

    The event above PA was at approx 0030 on Sunday March 21. I witnessed it from Chappaqua, NY at 0026 on Sunday March 21st.

    Reply to T.
  • Jim McNutt 1 month ago

    I observed a fireball heading east while traveling south on I95 on Monday 3/22. It was approximately 12:10 pm & not a cloud in the sky. Basically the appearance of a ball of flame that seemed to quickly descend toward the NJ side of the Delaware river. I’m stunned that so far I have heard nothing about it on our local news with the volume of traffic . It was hard to miss.

    Reply to Jim
    • Brenna 1 month ago

      I SAW THIS!! You’re the first I’ve seen to mention it so I wasn’t sure I believed what I saw lol but yes it was a bit after midnight on Monday 3/22. I was driving on route 30 through York right before exiting the expressway towards Gettysburg pa.

      Reply to Brenna
  • Linda Haas 1 month ago

    After reading your information, I know what I saw wasn’t a fireball. It wasn’t a plane. I would love to know what I saw. It was round with a v-shaped tail. It was falling downward towards the horizon at 6:10pm on March 23,2021. I live in Ballwin, MO. I did get a picture but it’s not the best…

    Reply to Linda
  • Kelly 1 month ago

    I live in Tahlequah, Ok and at 6:35am this morning I saw what I thought was a comet traveling east over Welling Road. Any information?

    Reply to Kelly
    • Robert Lunsford 1 month ago

      Kelly and All,

      There are no bright comets visible in the sky at this time. I looked up the most recent fireballs in Oklahoma and there were no matches of your time.

      Reply to Robert
  • Sam 1 month ago

    Me and a friend were sitting in the jacuzzi around 9pm PST when we witnessed a group of anywhere from 8-12 what looked like fireballs go in the same direction, perfectly and evenly spaced apart at a slow pace. They had very long tails and seemed close. It was the craziest thing we have ever seen. We are in Cle Elum, WA.

    Reply to Sam
    • Robert Lunsford 1 month ago

      Sam and All,

      What you most likely witnessed was a passage of StarLink satellites, not fireballs.

      Reply to Robert
      • Sam 1 month ago

        Hey Robert! I found out it was the Falcon 9 de-orbiting after 22 days in orbit.

        Reply to Sam
        • Robert Lunsford 1 month ago

          Sam,

          No, that was a completely different event.

          Reply to Robert
  • Destiny 1 month ago

    Seen fast shooting bright white fireball in sky from Narragansett, RI last night from my window around 10-10:30pm March 26, 2021.

    Reply to Destiny
  • Karyn Marolf 1 month ago

    I have seen two green fire balls with tails
    One last year and one tonight April 5, 2021@ 9:00 pm
    South west corner Colorado

    Reply to Karyn

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