© Steve E. Farmer Jr.
Georgia Fireball Bolide

Once again, on May 7, 2011, Georgia's night skies are lit up by a bright meteor - also known as a Bolide or Fireball.

On the night of Monday May 2, 2011, sightings of a bright meteor appearing over Georgia, Alabama, Florida, and other states were reported to news stations and meteor reporting organizations. According to the reports, around 10:00 PM EST a very bright meteor made its appearance high in Earth's atmosphere and produced quite a light show for those fortunate enough to witness the event. Five day's later; Georgia was once again visited again by another bright Bolide. This time it was captured on video.

Video of the actual event can be found at the following link: May 7, 2011 Bolide Over Georgia.

A Sandia National Laboratories Fireball Camera, located in Ty Ty, Georgia on the site of the Red Barn Observatory was able to capture this particular event. The meteor appeared on May 7, 2011 at 1:01 AM EST and lasted for nearly seven seconds before finally "burning out" near the eastern horizon. As of now, no other observations of this fireball have been reported.

2011 Eta Aquarids - Meteor Shower

During the Month of May each year, the Eta Aquarids, a meteor shower that peaks each year on May 5th, provides spectators an opportunity to observe meteors as they enter the Earths atmosphere - producing a stream of light and often a smoke trail. While it is possible that this particular fireball could have been associated with the Eta Aquarid meteor shower, it's more likely that this meteor was a sporadic meteor. Eta Aquarids are extremely fast meteors and last night's fireball appeared to move very slow.

Bolides and Meteors

Bolides, meteors that produce a flash or outburst, are not as common as the "standard" meteor that can be seen on a near-nightly basis. On average, five to six meteors can be observed per hour under clear, dark skies - whereas bolides average about one per month. Bright bolides, similar to the one that were observed on May 2, only average about one per year. The Bolide that entered the atmosphere over Georgia on May 7 is slightly more common and can be observed three to four times per year.

Meteoroids are generally described as the leftover fragments from the time our Solar System was created. Once they enter Earth's atmosphere and we see the trail of light they produce, they are known as Meteors. Those that are lucky enough to make it to Earth's surface are known as a Meteorite.

Observing Meteors

With two bright meteors in only a week and the Eta Aquarid meteor shower ending, this could be a great time to get out and watch the night skies for meteors. Observing meteors is simple. Find a comfortable spot outside away from bright lights, relax, and watch the night skies. While the Eta Aquarids are coming to an end, there's still the opportunity to see sporadic meteors and possibly that rare Bolide!