Fireball from beyond lights up night sky from southern Utah to Tucson to California – St George News

Fireball from beyond lights up night sky from southern Utah to Tucson to California – St George News

St. GEORGE – Scientists don’t officially say it was a meteor, but it was a meteor.

An image from a dashcam video shows a meteor over Hurricane, Utah, Oct. 25, 2022 | Photo via video courtesy of Sandy Lynne, St. George News

A fireball lit up the sky across the region from Cedar City to Mesquite at 7:53 pm MDT Monday night. Caught on some dashcams, the meteorite could be seen lighting up and appearing to break up enough that many on social media reported that they thought the meteorite debris must have landed in Milford.

Or the hurricane.

Or Bloomington.

Or Mosque.

But the sightings weren’t limited to southern Utah. On social media, people in Peoria, Arizona, Las Vegas and Rancho Mirage, California were also convinced that some alien piece had landed in their neighborhood.

Phil Plait, known as “The Bad Astronomer” for his books and media appearances on the Discovery and National Geographic channels, he told St. George News that no part of the meteoroid is likely to ever hit the ground and that it was the size of one of the basketballs fired by the Utah Jazz on Monday. night

“I personally can’t gauge the size of the meteoroid from the videos or reports, but judging by the brightness it wasn’t too big… less than a meter in diameter for sure. Basketball might be right,” Plait said . “At this size, it would be rare for meteorites to hit the ground. Most likely, it burned up completely.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the American Meteor Society had received 125 individual reports from Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California of meteor sightings at its site. Fireball report page The northernmost report was from Nona, Utah, just south of Provo; the southernmost was Tucson, Arizona; and the westernmost was Calabasas, California, in the Los Angeles area where it was reported to have a “green glow” and “lots of flames”.

Reports locally ranged from “very large and bright enough to light up the outside area” in Beaver to “having an audible noise” at Dixie and Sunset in St. George to a person in Mesquite who wondered if it was fireworks.

Map shows all reported sightings of a meteor on October 24, 2022 | Map courtesy of American Meteor Society, St. George News | Click to enlarge

Hurricane resident Sandy Lynne captured it on her home doorbell camera.

“I wish we could have seen it with our own eyes,” Lynne said.

In the video, the meteor can be seen from the porch, growing brighter as it descends and illuminates the street like lightning. It reaches its maximum brightness before it appears to break.

And Plait said the breakup is exactly what happened.

“Several videos show it suddenly increasing in brightness several times over a short fraction of a second,” said Plait, who wrote an article about the process called “pancaking”. “The main piece is likely to break off due to the pressure going through our atmosphere. This flattens the incoming rock.

“This causes it to break into smaller pieces and the sudden increase in surface area because there are now multiple pieces causes it to light up very quickly. If you watch the video of 2013 Chelyabinsk Asteroidyou can see the same thing even though this one was much smaller.”

While the annual Orioid meteor shower peaked at the weekend, Plait does not believe Monday night’s meteorite was related to this shower, which is made up of Halley’s comet debris.

“I doubt it was an oronid because they’re usually small,” Plait said, noting that oronids are usually no bigger than the size of a pebble.

And there’s no reason to panic because fireballs are about to become alarmingly prolific.

“There’s roughly 100 tons of meteor debris burning up in our atmosphere every day,” Plait said.

American Meteor Society astronomer Robert Lunsford, author of the book “Meteors and How to Observe Them,” said in St. George News that the fireball occurred too early to be an Oronid, but was possibly part of a different meteor shower.

“It is more likely that it was a member of the Taurid meteor shower, which is expected to do so produce more fireballs over the next two weeks” said Lunsford. “Some call it a ‘swarm,’ but it’s really a larger-than-normal concentration of particles from Comet Encke that has been disturbed by Jupiter’s gravity.

“This disturbance causes this concentration to approach Earth every three to seven years. The last Taurid swarm was in 2015.”

Lunsford added that people who thought they were seeing the meteor hit the ground were literally seeing things.

“Getting to the ground is just an optical illusion, as these fireballs disintegrate while still many kilometers in the atmosphere,” he said. “Being made of cometary material, they are fragile and do not survive their plunge through the atmosphere.”

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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