(meteorobs) Re: Fireball !- spectacular sight for astronomy-impaired me

Forwarded from the astro newsgroups; notice this person is not subsribed to 


In article <19981026110852.04902.00001556@ng97.aol.com> 
crisalis3@aol.comethalley (Crisalis3) writes:>From: crisalis3@aol.comethalley 
(Crisalis3)>Subject: Fireball !- spectacular sight for astronomy-impaired me
>Date: 26 Oct 1998 16:08:52 GMT

>Hello all.
>   Although I own a rather nice, expensive telescope and some 
>astronomy software, I still know almost nothing about stargazing. 
>But last night I saw the most spectacularly wonderful sight, I 
>just want to share it with people who understand the experience. 
>I've never seen anything like it before.
>   Between about 6:20 and 6:50 PM CDST last night, I was out 
>walking with my dog under a beautiful starscape, showcased by 
>a glowing sliver of the moon in the eastern sky. As I turned to 
>look at the streaks of clouds that were still hovering low in the 
>northern sky, I saw the flash of a bright and beautiful meteor, 
>lasting only a couple of seconds. I continued to watch the skies 
>from that vantage point, hoping for another meteor, and within a 
>few minutes, I saw a second meteor. A couple of minutes later 
>I witnessed something I was totally unprepared to see.

>From somewhat higher in the north-northwest sky than the other 
>meteors, I saw a huge, oval-shaped ball of white appear, with a 
>short tail behind it.  I don't know how to define "huge". I think it 
>was at least three times larger than Jupiter appeared to be, 
>maybe four times. It was very large, much bigger than any star or 
>planet I've ever seen in the sky. When I was living the experience, 
>I could hardly believe my eyes.

>I watched it silently fall a bit more, and then I saw it "explode" in 
>a fiery blast. It lasted only a second, but when the meteor was 
>caught in the "explosion" it doubled or tripled in size. At the 
>point of its "explosion" the meteor appeared to me to be about 
>25% of the size that a full moon takes up in the sky. That's the 
>only way I know how to describe how large it was. 

>   After the fiery blast, it continued its descent for a couple more 
>seconds and then vanished. A serious estimate of time for the 
>whole scene would be about 6 seconds (of course it seemed to 
>last much longer when it was happening).

>   I have a few questions for anyone who has the patience to 
>respond to an astronomy-impaired person like I am. Thanks in 
>advance for your kindness to respond.

>   How can I know for sure that what I saw was a meteor, and  
>   not manmade space debris that entered the atmosphere?

>   Is it important that the spectacular meteor I saw was higher 
>   in the sky than the others? Is that typical of fireballs?

>   Is there any way at all to "guestimate" how large this meteor 
>   might have been?  Did it look larger because it was so "close"?

>   Are there any photographs on the web showing the kind of 
>   fireball I describe?  (I would love to show my boyfriend what 
>   I saw)

>   Any comments on the subject, I would be grateful for. If 
>anybody's seen anything like I saw, please respond and compare 
>notes. I'll never forget this experience as long as I live. W/thanks.  
>                                  // 
>``Cris`` the D'ruby  ( ^,,^ )  {{meow}}
> --------------------------- `` ``
>Imago under construction