Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fireball over Guelph - 25 August 2014

Wow! There we were (my lovely ladyfriend and I) - swinging on the swings at a local park in Guelph, when she spotted it!

A meteor/fireball streaking across the sky!

She saw it better than I did, but I caught the last second or so as it "broke up" and fizzled out high overhead. The time was 8:35pm... Looking like some sort of oversized (and silent) firework that put on quite the show during the breakup - and reasonably colourful as well...

The next day she sent me a few links that told us we were not the only ones to observe the excitement:

Ontario, Canada Fireball Meteor 25AUG2014:

Latest worldwide reports: (check Aug 25) -

As you can see by the reports of others - it was darn impressive! A quick wikipedia search on the correct technical terms gave me this passage:

fireball is a brighter-than-usual meteor. The International Astronomical Union defines a fireball as "a meteor brighter than any of the planets" (magnitude −4 or greater).[26] The International Meteor Organization (an amateur organization that studies meteors) has a more rigid definition. It defines a fireball as a meteor that would have a magnitude of −3 or brighter if seen at zenith. This definition corrects for the greater distance between an observer and a meteor near the horizon. For example, a meteor of magnitude −1 at 5 degrees above the horizon would be classified as a fireball because if the observer had been directly below the meteor it would have appeared as magnitude −6.[27] For 2013 there were 3556 fireballs recorded at the American Meteor Society.[28] There are probably more than 500,000 fireballs a year,[29] but most will go unnoticed because most will occur over the ocean and half will occur during daytime.
Fireballs reaching magnitude −14 or brighter are called bolides.[30] The IAU has no official definition of "bolide", and generally considers the term synonymous with "fireball". Astronomers often use "bolide" to identify an exceptionally bright fireball, particularly one that explodes (sometimes called a detonating fireball). It may also be used to mean a fireball which creates audible sounds. In the late twentieth century, bolide has also come to mean any object that hits the Earth and explodes, with no regard to its composition (asteroid or comet).[31] The word bolide comes from the Greek βολίς (bolis[32] which can mean a missile or to flash. If the magnitude of a bolide reaches −17 or brighter it is known as a superbolide.[30][33]

According to that text, I would say we could be fairly confident in calling our observation a "bolides" - as it was exceptionally bright (considering it was still twilight - no stars yet visible) - and we could see it "break up" as it ended...

Anyways - that's all I can really write! It was freakin cool, although (as you might expect from a swingset observation) - I don't really have any photos or anything to accompany this post.

Never ending excitement in this world!

1 comment:

  1. They are neat to see! Interestingly, I saw a fireball at Guelph (in the 'old' days) when I was attending the university. We had just finished supper and were coming out of Creelman Hall when it streaked across the sky. Timing is everything!