[meteorite-list] Fireball Seen Shooting Across Pennsylvania Sky

From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:48:10 2004
Message-ID: <200110041650.JAA24752_at_zagami.jpl.nasa.gov>


Fireball seen shooting across sky
By Joe Pinchot
The Herald (Sharon, Pennsylvania)
October 3, 2001

A fireball shooting across the early night sky Tuesday led many
residents from the southwestern part of Mercer County to call 911.

Acting Shift Supervisor Tom Meyer said calls for what apparently was
a meteor started coming in at 7:41 from the Shenango Valley.

"They've described it as a large ball of fire with a tail," he said.

Meyer said unless the meteor hit the ground in Mercer County, there
was nothing 911 could do and there were no reports of that.

Meteors, commonly called shooting stars, are the streaks of light
caused by dust particles from space evaporating in the earth's
atmosphere, according to NASA. The particles themselves are called
meteoroids, and, if they land on earth, meteorites.

Astronomer Ted Pedas of Farrell said he did not see the meteor but
from its description it appeared to have been a bolide, a very large
meteor that probably was seen over six or seven states.

Bolides are "the size of a walnut and on up," he said.

None of the 911 callers sounded scared but Meyer said the Sept. 11
terrorist attacks might have made people react a little differently
to the astronomical phenomenon.

"I don't know if they're worried about what's been happening," he

911 called the National Weather Service and other weather
forecasting agencies and learned that reports had come in from the
Pittsburgh area.

The Beaver County Emergency Services Center and National Weather
Service in Moon Township, Allegheny County, received calls shortly
after the object was spotted at about 7:45 p.m. Witnesses said the
red object had a flaming tail and described it as much larger than a
shooting star.

The earth regularly experiences annual meteor showers, such as the
Perseid shower which peaks in August.

"We're not near any meteor showers so it can't be associated with
any regularly occurring ones," said Pedas, director of the Ted Pedas
Planetarium at Farrell Area School District.

"In the last six to eight months there have been many of these
reported across the country," Pedas said of solitary fireballs.
"They're very unpredictable."

If there was a sound associated with the meteor, that probably would
have meant it landed and exploded, he said.
You can e-mail Herald Staff Writer Joe Pinchot at
The Associated Press contributed to this story.
Received on Thu 04 Oct 2001 12:50:55 PM PDT

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