Adirondack Public Observatory
Tupper Lake, NY
|Fireball Sighting 25 September 2009|
On September 25th, 2009, a spectacular fireball that broke up over western Lake Ontario was observed by members of the Adirondack Public Observatory from two different locations in New York State.
At 9:03 pm EDT, APO Board Member Aileen O'Donoghue had finished giving a spellbinding talk entitled "Jupiter and Galileo's Legacy" at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY. The audience had moved outdoors for the post-talk observing session. A fireball a meteor bright enough to leave a persistent train was observed by many in attendance, including O'Donoghue and fellow APO Board Members Marc Staves, Gordie Duval and Tim Moeller. Staves noted that the fireball had a short green tail and red-colored head. It appeared just above the horizon at about 15° and about 25° to 30° to the left of Arcturus. It lasted several seconds and was near a magnitude of -6 to -9. Marc also estimated that the flash that occurred after it went below the tree line was about 60° wide at the base of the light dome created and extended about 15° above it.
At that same moment, APO Board Member Jeffrey Miller was about 40 miles northwest of the Tupper Lake group, traveling in a car headed south on Rt. 56, just entering the town of Potsdam, NY. The fireball was observed due west, about the same altitude as Arcturus. Miller noted that the fireball was much brighter than Jupiter, had a bright green tail and a red head. The sky in the region of the fireball lit up after it went below the tree line, indicating that it probably exploded or impacted. All of the passengers in the car were very excited by the appearance of the fireball.
Staves and Miller reported their sightings to the American Meteor Society. Their observations were listed as meteor number 558. This particular fireball was reported by 60 to 70 observers, mainly in southern Ontario, as well as New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
The fireball event was also recorded by seven all-sky cameras (still image video) of the Southern Ontario Meteor Network, set up by the University of Western Ontario (UWO). The meteoroid that created this fireball was estimated to be about the size of a child's tricycle, and it broke up over western Lake Ontario (map), about 275 miles southwest from the APO groups that observed it. More information about the meteor, including additional video, can be found on the University of Western Ontario's Meteor Physics web site.
Update: The November 7th edition of the 365 Days of Astronomy podcast contains an interview with two of the astronomers from UWO, detailing their search for meteor fragments on the ground.
The fireball sighting was an exciting event for all who observed it that evening.
|© J.R. Miller, esq.||The Adirondack Public Observatory, Inc.
Tupper Lake, NY 12986
|27 July, 2012|