Perth Daytime Fireball Monday 9 March 2015

Perth Daytime Fireball Monday 9 March 2015

It’s been a very exciting day at Curtin Uni amongst the Fireballs in the Sky team, thanks to the Perth daytime fireball at around 9:25 am this morning.

Click here for the storify summary of the way the excitement played out today online.

From all app sightings, reports and dash cam videos it seems the flash of white light, or streaming fireball as some people saw, was indeed a meteor.

Our apologies that the website was inaccessible for most of the day. Hopefully you caught up with the news via social media.

Why is a daytime meteor awesome?

Daytime meteors are of special interest because to see them during the day, they must be already quite big and bright.

Many of us have seen shooting stars as tiny specks of light flicking past the stars and not lasting more than a blink. These are likely to be tiny bits of dust or grains of sand entering the Earth’s atmosphere at high speed, and burning away almost as soon as they light up.

Bigger meteors (fireballs) are more like a pebble or a large rock and they can burn much brighter and longer. They’re an incredible sight at night time, so any we can see while the sun’s out are sure to be more than a grain of sand.

The size, brightness and duration of the visible meteor flight can indicate the size of the meteor. Although the more it burns in the atmosphere, the less likely it is to fall to the ground as a meteorite.

The Fireballs in the Sky team are all about studying meteorites, so we like a good size fireball, but don’t want it to burn up completely while it’s still in the sky.

So, what’s the latest?

The team today have been following the reports that have come from people all over Perth and love that everyone can get involved in meteoritic science.

This afternoon they used the various video footage to estimate the path of the fireball and went out to make measurements of the landmarks in the footage to calibrate the data.

Rough estimates are that the fireball was burning as it traveled north over Moora (about 200km north of Perth). It appears to be have come in at quite a steep angle and spent about 1.7 seconds burning. We’re excited to crunch the data further to see if there was enough left at the end of the path to leave behind a meteorite and narrow down where it landed.

There have been a few suggestions over the day that a meteorite might have landed close to Perth. Based on our estimates this is highly unlikely. It is however quite common that meteors look like they’ve landed ‘just over that rise’, when in fact it’s glided way over the horizon. Tricks of perception and perspective abound when we’re looking at objects in the sky.

We’ll keep you posted on what happens next, but to stay connected, sign up to our irregular e-newsletter at the bottom of the home page, follow us on twitter @fireballssky or like us on facebook – facebook.com/fireballsinthesky

If you ever see a fireball, remember you can submit a sighting using our app after the event, just change the time in the notes before you hit ‘submit’.

 

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