Fireball from beyond brightens 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 of a video from a doorbell camera shows a meteor over Hurricane, Utah, October 25, 2022 | Photo via video courtesy of Sandy Lynne, St. George News

Monday night at 7:53 p.m. MDT, a fireball lit up the skies across the region from Cedar City to Mesquite. On some doorbell cameras, the meteor was visibly brightening and seemingly falling apart, prompting many on social media to report that they thought the remains of the meteorites must have landed in Milford.

Or hurricane.

Or Bloomington.

Or Mesquite.

But sightings were not limited to southern Utah. On social media, people in Peoria, Arizona, Las Vegas and Rancho Mirage, California were also sure that an alien piece had landed near them.

Phil Plait, known as “The Bad Astronomer” before his books and media appearances on the Discovery and National Geographic channels, St. George told News that it is unlikely that any part of the meteoroid ever hit the ground and that it was about the size of one of the basketballs that were shot down by the Utah Jazz Monday night.

“Personally I can’t measure the size of the meteoroid based on the videos or the reports, but judging by the brightness, it wasn’t too big… certainly less than a meter in diameter. Basketball might be right,” Plait said. “With that size, it would be rare for meteorites to hit the ground. Most likely, it was completely burned.”

By Tuesday afternoon, the American Meteor Society had received 125 individual reports from Utah, Arizona, Nevada and California of the meteor sighting on its Fireball Reporting page. The most northerly 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 had a “green glow” and “lots of flames.”

Reports locally ranged from “very large and bright enough to light up the area outside” in Beaver to “an audible noise” at Dixie and Sunset in St. George to a person in Mesquite wondering 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’s 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, increasing in brightness as it descends, lighting up the street like a bolt of lightning. It reaches its maximum brightness before it seems to break up.

And Plait said that breaking up is exactly what happened.

“Several videos show it suddenly increase in brightness several times for a brief fraction of a second,” said Plait, who wrote a piece about the process called “pancaking.” “Those probably come from the chapter breaking apart from the pressure of it ramming through our atmosphere. This flattens the incoming rock.

“That causes it to break into smaller pieces, and because of the sudden increase in surface area because there are now multiple pieces, it clears up very quickly. If you watch the video of the Chelyabinsk asteroid from 2013you can see the same thing, although it was much smaller.”

While the annual Orionid meteor shower reached its peak over the weekend, Plait doesn’t think Monday night’s meteor was related to that rainstorm, which consists of debris from Halley’s Comet.

“I doubt this was an Orionid, because those tend to be small,” Plait said, noting that Orionids are usually no bigger than the size of a pebble.

And there’s no need to panic that fireballs are about to get alarmingly prolific.

“There are about 100 tons of meteoric debris burning in our atmosphere every day,” Plait said.

American Meteor Society astronomer Robert Lunsford, author of the book “Meteors and How to Observe Them,” told St. George News that the fireball occurred too early to be an Orionid, but may have been part of another. meteor stream.

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

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

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

“Reaching land is just an optical illusion, as these fireballs disintegrate while they are still many miles high in the atmosphere,” he said. “Because they are made of cometary material, they are fragile and will not survive their plunge through the atmosphere.”

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

The Valley Voice
The Valley Voice
Christopher Brito is a social media producer and trending writer for The Valley Voice, with a focus on sports and stories related to race and culture.


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