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Fire in the Sky

Fireball 5

Fragment of meteor that exploded over Texas found near McAllen

fireball fragment
© Robert Ward/American Meteor Society
A close-up of the recovered fireball fragment.
A chunk from the fireball meteor that exploded on Feb. 15 has been recovered. Other fragments of the hefty space rock were likely showered across the nearby area.

A hefty meteor weighing around the same as a grand piano recently exploded in the skies above Texas, potentially showering the surrounding area with smaller fragments. One of these meteorite chunks has already been recovered and could help reveal more about our cosmic neighborhood, experts say.

The meteor, which was likely a small asteroid, entered Earth's atmosphere on Feb. 15 at around 5 p.m. CST and broke apart in a burst of flames about 21 miles (33.8 kilometers) above the city of McAllen. This type of space rock is known as a fireball meteor because of the bright flash given off as it breaks apart, due to friction between the fast-moving object and the air in the atmosphere.

"Based on analysis of preliminary information from several sources, NASA experts believe the object was a meteoroid about two feet [0.6 meters] in diameter weighing about 1,000 pounds [454 kilograms]," representatives from NASA's Meteor Watch wrote on Facebook. The meteor was traveling at around 27,000 mph (43,450 km/h) when it exploded and released the equivalent energy of around 8 tons (7.3 metric tons) of TNT, they added.

The meteor's size and speed suggested that fragments had likely reached the ground without burning up completely, NASA representatives wrote.

Comment: See also:

Texas: Meteor fireball tracked on anniversary of Chelyabinsk incident - UPDATE: NASA confirms detection of asteroid

Fireball 3

Meteor fireball over Indiana and other states on February 26

© Joseph Y
We received 17 reports about a fireball seen over IL, IN, MO, OH and WI on Sunday, February 26th 2023 around 01:04 UT.

For this event, we received 2 videos and 2 photos.

Fireball 4

Meteor fireball over Arizona, California and Nevada on February 22

We received 27 reports about a fireball seen over AZ, CA and NV on Wednesday, February 22nd 2023 around 13:37 UT.

For this event, we received one video.

Fireball 2

Meteor fireball over Michigan and surrounding states on February 20

© Spalding Allsky Camera Network, Node73 - Pete Mumbower
We received 197 reports about a fireball seen over IL, IN, MI, NY, OH, Ontario, PA and WI on Monday, February 20th 2023 around 01:51 UT.

For this event, we received 5 videos and one photo.

Fireball 2

Meteorite found in northern France following break-up of brilliant meteor fireball

023 CX1 Fireball Meteorite discovered in Northern France.
© FRIPON/Vigie-ciel
023 CX1 Fireball Meteorite discovered in Northern France.
On February 12, around 10 pm EST (0300 GMT, February 13), an asteroid burned up rather dramatically over Europe.

Hours later, a space-focused citizen science volunteer group found a meteorite from the fireball event 2023 CX1.

Members of the science group Vigie-Ciel (translated to 'Sky Lookout') and a related project, FRIPON, another space-focused citizen science effort working with French scientific institutions like the Paris Observatory and the University of Paris-Saclay can be credited with confirming the exciting find.

Loïs Leblanc, an 18-year-old student, found the meteorite first. At 4:47 pm, Leblanc chanced upon "a dark stone barely level with the ground of a field in the town of Saint-Pierre-le-Viger," the group wrote in a blog post.

Comment: Videos below of this terrible beauty as it burned up over northwestern Europe:

Fireball 3

Meteor fireball over Italy on February 14

We received 30 reports about a fireball seen over Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Ljubljana, Marche, Puglia, Toscana, Umbria and Zadarska županija on Tuesday, February 14th 2023 around 17:59 UT.

For this event, we received one video.

Fireball 3

Texas: Meteor fireball tracked on anniversary of Chelyabinsk incident - UPDATE: NASA confirms detection of asteroid

meteor texas
© US National Weather Service
Satellite imagery shows the bright flash produced by a suspected meteor spotted over southern Texas on February 15, 2023.
A suspected meteor was seen blazing through the sky over Texas on Wednesday night, according to a local sheriff, who cited air traffic controllers in the area. The US National Weather Service confirmed that it detected a bright "flash" in the atmosphere, almost exactly ten years after a massive meteor came down in Chelyabinsk, Russia.

Comment: It actually happened during daytime, as you'll see from CCTV footage below.

Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra took to social media to relay the reports from the aviation authorities in Houston, saying more than one aircraft had spotted a meteor near McAllen, a border town in southern Texas.

"Was informed by my federal partners that Houston Air Traffic Control received reports from two aircrafts that they saw a meteorite west of McAllen. Where the exact point of impact is unknown," the sheriff said, adding that there had been no reports of damage in the area.

The chief of police in nearby Alton, Jonathan Flores, told local media that he felt a "blast" on Wednesday night, but could not pinpoint its origin.

Comment: UPDATE: 17th February 2023 @ 12:03 CET

NASA - late to the party, as usual! - confirms 'entry of an asteroid':

ZeroHedge reports further:
After examining multiple reports, NASA released a statement Thursday that confirmed a meteoroid made entry near McAllen around 1800 ET.

"NASA experts believe the object was a meteoroid about two feet in diameter weighing about 1,000 pounds," a statement from the space agency read. [...]

We have one question: Why didn't planetary defense systems monitor the meteoroid, especially since it was a 1,000-pound chunk of space rock? Or was the military's radar system too busy chasing balloons?
Good question. British astronomer Victor Clube articulated the perfect answer:
"We do not need the celestial threat to disguise Cold War intentions; rather we need the Cold War to disguise celestial intentions!"

~ British astronomer Victor Clube, author of The Cosmic Serpent and The Cosmic Winter, in a report commissioned by the U.S. Air Force

Fireball 2

Chelyabinsk meteor: Ten years on from 'wake-up call', how safe are we from a potentially catastrophic strike?

A decade on from the Chelyabinsk meteor, and our planet has come a long way in detecting the threat of interstellar objects potentially hurtling into the atmosphere. But has the risk been completely eliminated - and exactly how prepared are we for another dramatic impact?
Chelyabinsk fireball meteor

Chelyabinsk fireball recorded by a dashcam from Kamensk-Uralsky, north of the city of Chelyabinsk
It wasn't quite the day the Earth stood still, but those who witnessed a fiery asteroid briefly outshine the sun as it soared towards the Russian city of Chelyabinsk will almost certainly never forget it.

Comparable to the size of a house and travelling at a scintillating 11 miles per second, what was quickly dubbed the Chelyabinsk meteor arrived unannounced in a manner reminiscent of a science-fiction disaster film. It was an unnerving spectacle.

Comment: Indeed, this was discovered beforehand and thus was not being tracked. What gives the Chelyabinsk meteor a terrifying edge is that another, different, space rock was being tracked and was forecast to enter Earth's atmosphere later that same day!

Dashcam footage from the morning of 15 February 2013, in the central Russian city close to the Ural Mountains, shows the small asteroid entering the Earth's atmosphere before it exploded with 30 times more force than the US atom bomb that destroyed Hiroshima in the Second World War.

Windows shattered, buildings were damaged, and hundreds of people were injured - but Chelyabinsk got lucky.

"Had it been directly over the city, the damage would have been worse," warns NASA's planetary defence officer Lindley Johnson. "It was definitely a wake-up call."

Comment: And don't forget what the Chelyabinsk meteor events sounded like...

If you ever see a long-duration fireball streak through the sky, and you suspect it's 'close' to your location, stay away from windows for a few minutes!

The shockwave generated by the above atmospheric explosion would have knocked any nearby aircraft to the ground. Fortunately, none were in the vicinity at the time, but one wonders about other 'unexplained' airplane crashes in recent years: e.g., What are they hiding? Flight 447 and Tunguska Type Events

To answer the question asked in the above headline, the risk posed by increased cometary debris isn't just a matter of 'potentially catastrophic strikes'- i.e., single asteroids which make impact and cause devastation over a discrete geographic area - but also multiple other, planet-wide, risk factors such as the atmosphere becoming loaded with comet dust (aka 'meteor smoke') from all these meteor fireball events in recent years, and what effect this is having on the climate...

AMS fireballs table
© Sott.net

Fireball 2

Meteor fireball over Ohio and 2 other states on February 14

© Ryan Connor
We received 8 reports about a fireball seen over MI, OH and PA on Tuesday, February 14th 2023 around 09:41 UT.

For this event, we received one video and one photo.


Small Asteroid 2023 CX1 (NEOCP Sar2667) impacted Earth on February 13

On 2023 February 12.8 (20:18:07 UTC), K. Sarneczky found a small asteroid with the 0.60-m Schmidt + CCD of the Piszkéstető Observatory in Hungary (K88 MPC code) that was soon after put on the NEOCP list with the provisional designation Sar2667 for the follow-up by other observers. The object was subsequently imaged by many observers around the world and various impact assessment systems found a 100% impact probability in the area of the English Channel on Feb. 13 between 02 and 04 UTC. This is the second discovery by Sarneczky of an impactor, following the 2022 EB5 event in March 2022.

M.P.E.C. 2023-C103 issued subsequently on 2023 February 13 at 04:13 UT assigned the official designation 2023 CX1 to Sar2667 with the following comment:
K. Sarneczky reported a new NEOCP candidate observed at GINOP-KHK (K88). Rapid follow-up from multiple sites indicated an impact with the Earth's atmosphere on February 13 03:00 UTC near the coast of Normandy, France, as determined by imminent impact monitoring services such as JPL's Scout, ESA's Meerkat and MPC's internal warning system.
Map of the impact zone predicted to occur a few kilometers from French coast, North-East of Le Havre. Click on it for a bigger version.

Asteroid Impact Site
© International Meteor Organization
2023 CX1 was a small Aten asteroid with an estimated size of ~1.0 m (based on the object's absolute magnitude H=32.6).