Yet another good night with the highest totals yet for the new dual camera system (albeit, this is over only the past 5 nights). The night seemed to be dominated by very short quick meteors with only a few that could be considered picturesque.
Obs Date (UT) TotTime TOT SPO ANT TUS 2009-06-16 05h 32m 19 16 1
TUS – Camera in Tucson operated by Carl Hergenrother
SDG – Camera in San Diego operated by Bob Lunsford
TotTime – Total amount of time each camera looked for meteors
TOT – Total number of meteors detected
SPO – Sporadics (meteors not affiliated with any particular meteor shower)
ANT – Antihelions
I was running North of Vero Beach Florida at approx 5am on Orchid Island and coming from the East going West was what appeared to me a comet (seemed to be low in orbit though), but as I understand it comets actually appear as if they are not moving? This “comet” was streaking across the sky and wasn’t small – it was large amd white, had a fairly long tail from which white “sparks” seemed to fall off. In talking to a friend who had long ago studied astronomy, he said it was probably just space junk! Oh, and this was no shooting star – it literally streaked from the far East over the ocean until it was obsured by the trees to the West – taking far longer to disappear from sight than a shooting star which I believe seem to fall “down” to earth. I was really hoping someone here could shed some insight on what it was that I saw. Thanks so much.
Thanks for your report. It sure sounds like you saw one impressive fireball.
You are correct that it wasn’t a comet. Those are so far away that they don’t appear to move (night to night maybe but not over the course of a few seconds). What you saw was probably something entering Earth’s atmosphere. Based on your description it could be either man-made space junk or a small meteoroid. But, the fact that it was moving from East to West makes a small meteoroid more likely. About 99.9+% of the space junk is orbiting Earth in either a West to East orbit or in a polar orbit (North to South or South to North). Only the Israelis launch stuff towards the West (because they can’t launch over the Arab countries to their East) and they only have a few sats up there.
So based on all of that, you probably saw a nice fireball (which is really just a large bright meteor). Though most meteors are very short and fast, there are some that can move very slow and take many seconds to cross the entire sky.
I’ll keep a look out for other reports. You can also check the American Meteor Society’s Fireball page which is updated every few days.
You can also file your own report with the same group.
The form is easy to file out and doesn’t require much in the way of astro know-how.
Thanks again for the report,
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