[meteorite-list] Fireballs & Optical Delusions (was, "Re: Bright Meteor Seen Over New Hampshire")

From: Robert Verish <bolidechaser_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:44:44 2004
Message-ID: <20010331081055.27828.qmail_at_web10408.mail.yahoo.com>

I continue to find people who witnessed the SoCal
Fireball of 2001March25, 8:20PM PST. Tonight over
dinner an acquaintance described what he observed from
his residence on top of Rose Hills near Whittier, CA.

To him the fireball appeared to be "a very bright
white color until near the end of its flight where it
turned an ever deepening shade of yellow." He
insisted upon this following observation. "I saw the
end of the fire ball's flight where it just sputtered
and then promptly extinguished itself. And when this
happened it was already down below my horizon,
somewhere between Palos Verde Hills and Hermosa Beach,
so this thing must have extinguished itself right
above Torrance!"

When I tried to explain to him that many observers
experience an optical illusion when they see a
fireball reach its retardation point, and that when he
saw his fireball extinguish it was by then, probably
200 miles away and around 20 miles above the Pacific

He said, "That's impossible! You've got to be wrong
about that. I SAW it BELOW the horizon!"

That's when the delusion begins.

Bob V.

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>
To: meteorite-list_at_meteoritecentral.com
   (Meteorite Mailing List)
Date: Fri, 30 Mar 2001 09:04:03 -0800 (PST)

Subject: Bright Meteor Seen Over New Hampshire

Meteor Seen In City's Skies
Kimberly Phillips
Register Citizen (New Hamsphire)
March 29, 2001
Could it happen in Torrington?
Glenn Carlson and his wife Sondra were traveling home
from New Hampshire last weekend when they saw
something bright streak across the sky. In the heavens
above Route 8 southbound, the South Kent couple saw
what they
identified as a shooting star.

The pair admired the glow then noticed it's light
flicker, extinguish momentarily, and bound toward
Earth eventually landing in a location between TJ
Maxx, O&G Industries, Route 8, and Charlotte
Hungerford Hospital.

"It didn't like explode or anything," Glenn said
Wednesday. "As it got closer (into the Carlsons' view)
it kind of flared up and it kind of blacked out."

Glenn said he was certain the object wasn't a bottle
rocket or any mysterious visitor from outer space,
merely a meteor speeding wayward through the

"It was pretty neat," Glenn said.

Susan French, vice president of the board of trustees
for the Dudley Observatory in Schenectady, N.Y. and a
star party coordinator for the Albany Amateur
Astronomers Club, said the Carlsons indeed might have
seen a meteor.

The only thing, she said, is a meteorite, once it
hovers about 12 miles above the Earth, extinguishes
itself entirely and could land anywhere at anytime. So
pinpointing an exact location from a streak in the sky

would be nearly impossible.

Most people identify fallen meteorites if the chunk of
space rock hits something, such as a house or a car,
or if a person stumbles upon something strange in a
wooded area, French said.

"There always are meteor showers," she continued.
"There's a good chance he saw a meteor."

A meteor, or shooting star, rapidly crosses the sky in
about 15 seconds, whereas a satellite or an airplane
takes much longer, French explained.
And this time of year is ripe for meteors, as the
March showers are now coming to an end.

The only thing about which French was skeptical was
the height the Carlsons said they saw the object.
Generally, 60 miles in the air is when people see
the burning rocks.

But then again, some could say it might have been
something other than a meteor.

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Received on Sat 31 Mar 2001 03:10:55 AM PST

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