Fire in the Sky


Unusual streaks of light seen in Hawaii skies

© Reed Shook
Many residents across the state observed unusual streaks of light or a "fireball" over Hawaiian skies late Sunday night, raising questions about what it could possibly be.

People from Kona to Oahu's North Shore thought it was a meteor or government experiment. Turns out, it was just junk. Space junk. An abandoned Russian spy satellite -- the Cosmos 1315 -- which launched in 1981 fell to earth, burning up as it did.

"When it starts to re-enter the atmosphere its going about 18,000 miles an hour," says University of Hawaii astronomer Richard Wainscoat, "A lot of it is going to get vaporized but if there are really big pieces then some of them may make it down to the earth's surface."

Wainscoat actually missed the spectacular event.
"I'm pretty annoyed that I was asleep when this happened."

The sighting also created a lot of buzz on the Hawaii News Now Facebook page with dozens of users posting videos and photos of the curious event.

© Nuran Dada

Comment: See also:

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Early morning fireball over St. George, Utah

© Stock image/St. George News
St. George — Reports came in to the Utah Highway Patrol Cedar City Dispatch Center Friday describing a fireball streaking across the sky south of SunRiver St. George just before 7:30 a.m.

A fireball occurs when a meteor enters Earth's atmosphere and burns brightly before being consumed by the fire, and is defined by the American Meteor Society as an object that is brighter than the planet Venus.

The American Meteor Society received reports from three observers in Lake Havasu City, Arizona, Flagstaff, Arizona, and Pahrump, Nevada, of a fireball about the same time as the Southern Utah sighting. San Diego-based Robert Lunsford, the report coordinator for the AMS, said it was probably the same object, but it likely burned up in the atmosphere before hitting the ground.

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Bright meteor seen from Puerto Rico

A bright meteor was seen from Puerto Rico on the night of August 20, according to Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe (SAC). The largest astronomy organization on the Caribbean Island says the meteor was seen at about 9:30 p.m. local time. "We got reports from the north and west side of the Island, but it is possible the meteor was also seen from other areas of Puerto Rico, SAC said.

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Large bolide seen over eastern Norway

© Norwegian meteor network / sun observatory
Meteor seen from Harestua.
The activity of meteor swarm Perseids is at its greatest these days and several in Eastern Norway who were up in the night to see meteors, got a great experience.

A large bolide appeared 1:50:39 and lit up the night. It shone like the brightest full moon, was yellow-green in color, some also described it as blue and white, and was visible for 8-9 seconds. However, this was not one Perseid. Over parts of eastern Norway found the admittedly coming from Perseus, but it is a random perspective effect. It was slower and lasted much longer than any Perseid, and seen from elsewhere, it went in a different direction from Perseus.


Could a meteorite have started the fire in Portland, Oregon man's front yard?

Patrick Story says the burned patch in the front yard of his Southeast Portland home lines up with a singed portion of a nearby bush.
A Southeast Portland man thinks a meteor might have caused a mystery fire in his front yard.

Patrick Story says he heard a loud boom outside his house on Wednesday night, coupled with a flash of light.

When he went outside, he found part of his front yard on fire in the shape of a circle.

Firefighters told him the fire was "naturally-caused," however they couldn't find any fragments. Story thinks it was a fallen meteorite.

"Because the bush was set on fire, you can kind of think there was a trajectory of something flying through the air," said Story. "Since it was the night of the Perseid Meteor Shower... you got to wonder."

Comment: This is a sad display of what a scientist thinks about meteors. Hopefully this is not representative of the profession in general. Yes, space is cold, yet how can a scientist given the recent well publicized meteor over Chelyabinsk, Russia and the many examples of meteors entering the atmosphere, burning up and exploding come to the conclusion that "they're simply too cold" in all instances? From an expert in the field, mind-boggling!

Pray tell, how did this meteor, which was obviously larger than a bb, light up the sky on Wednesday night during the Perseid shower?

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Fireball lights up the sky over London, Ontario

© Western University
This photo shows a fireball shooting over London, Ont. on Aug 12.
Video released by Western University shows a bright fireball that quickly lit up the sky over London, Ont., on Wednesday night during a Perseid event.

According to Peter Brown, a professor with the department of physics and astronomy at Western University, the fireball was travelling at around 60 km per second.

Brown says the object was only about the size of a loonie but because of its immense speed, it was visible with the naked eye from Earth for about 1.5 seconds.

"At this speed, the fireball has the same amount of energy as 400 times its weight in dynamite," Brown said.

"The fireball was bright, much brighter than Venus and any other object in the sky. It was comparable to a half moon," Brown added.

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Nasa video of Perseid fireball over New Mexico


Perseid fireball over the skies of New Mexico
Video observed by the Nasa All Sky Fireball Network shows the Perseid fireball over the skies of New Mexico on the morning of August 12.

August 12 and 13 were the two days when the Perseid shower was set to peak, with a huge array of meteors visible. The meteor shower was not just visible in the US but across the world, including the UK, with stargzers in the Midlands and the North having the best view of the meteors as cloud cover meant visibility was limited across southern England and Scotland.

The Perseids this year coincided with a new moon - for the first time since 2007 - creating the ideal dark sky conditions.

The meteors reached their peak on Wednesday and Thursday night when over 100 per hour were produced.


Meteor fireball blazes through Chilean sky (VIDEOS)

This fireball was filmed in Antofagasta's sky, in Chile, yesterday, Tuesday 21th, 2015.


Look into the sky tonight for the year's best meteor show, Perseid

© Dado Ruvic / Reuters
August's annual Perseid meteor shower is expected to peak on Wednesday, with a special weather permit and perfect lunar conditions, coming just one day before the new moon.

Astronomers hope that the meteor shower, which falls in the middle of the week this year, is going to be really special. The celestial conditions will differ from last year's, when a bright moon faded the colors of the shooting stars.

Comment: A light show worth watching!

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Loud explosion and large glowing object in the sky reported from Tamworth, Australia


City of Tamworth NSW, Australia
This morning, local Tamworth police took a number of phone calls reporting an explosion, houses shuddering and they posted the following on the Oxley Local Area Command Facebook Page:

"About 1.30 am on Tuesday 11th August 2015 Police received numerous calls from Tamworth residents in relation to a loud explosion heard in many different parts of Tamworth. Residents reported their houses seemed to shake with the noise. No-one was able to accurately describe a location for the explosion. No reports of fire were received. Police patrolled several areas of Tamworth in response to these calls however no damage was located.
The mystery appeared solved about 30 minutes later when a local taxi driver contacted Police and reported sighting a large glowing object in the sky trailing a green tail fall to earth somewhere to the south of Tamworth City. At this time, it is believed the explosion can be attributed to the unknown falling object, possibly a meteorite."

Intrigued, I sent this to our resident astronomer Astro Dave Reneke. He knew exactly what this was, a sonic boom, the result of a fireball from a meteor shower... quite rare, listen to the explanation here: Astro Dave with Anna Moulder on ABC NENW Breakfast