Re: (meteorobs) Should I fill in Fireball report
(Sorry this is kind of long, folks - but maybe it's worth printing out
and bringing along to your next meteor watch for reference...)
You bet, Kim - if you judge any meteor to be *brighter than Jupiter*
(which is mag -2.8 right now), then you should report it as a fireball.
And in fact, if the meteor is VERY LOW to the horizon and even seems
not much brighter than Sirius, the Dog Star, it's probably a fireball.
(Meteors very close to the horizon will appear significantly dimmed.)
When you see a fireball (and you have a time source close by, e.g., if
you're meteor watching!) immediately *begin counting* - and don't stop
until you locate that time source and check the time. Then log some key
info about your fireball: exact time to the second (subtract your count
from the current time!); brightness; where the fireball path began and
and where it ended. The start and end point can be measured against the
background stars (I tend to use constellation patterns), or relative to
the horizons (e.g., "began at 30o in the SW, ended at 50o in S"). Other
info of possible use is how long any persistent train appeared to last,
any colors you saw, any fragementation or "sparkling" in the fireball,
and if you heard any SOUND during or up to 10 minutes after the event.
Of course, in the excitement of a bright meteor, you may not remember
or think to note much of the above: but if you can get at least a well-
fixed sky position for the meteor, a time to the quarter hour, and a
rough idea of brightness, you SHOULD REPORT YOUR SIGHTING!
The best way to report a fireball is through one of several Web forms.
Pick your favorite from the following and use it!
Clear skies and many fireballs!