This morning I saw a very bright fireball in the predawn sky at my home in Northern California, by far the brightest meteor I have ever seen. What a treat! Here are the details…
Most winter mornings I’m up around 5. I make a strong cup of French roast and then head outside to look at the stars and listen to the great horned owls and the coyotes.
Viewing the Fireball
Usually I’ll see a meteor or two in the 10-15 minutes I’m out. But this morning, absolutely clear and calm, I saw magnificent orange fireball slowly move across over half the sky. It was nearly overhead, and I first noticed it when it was about 10 degrees east of the zenith. It moved nearly due west to finally disappear over the Eddy mountains.
It was one of those moments that come too rarely in life, a moment when you know you’re part of something beautiful, something special.
Reporting the Fireball Sighting
I filed a report on the -6 magnitude fireball with the American Meteor Society, which is an excellent source of info on meteors any time of the year.
Seeing Sporadic Meteors
And note that this month you’ll see a decent amount of sporadic meteors from any dark-sky rural site in northern California or elsewhere. More from the American Meteor Society on sporadic meteor rates in February:
As seen from the mid-northern hemisphere (45N) one would expect to see approximately eleven sporadic meteors per hour during the last hour before dawn as seen from rural observing sites. Evening rates would be near two per hour.
That’s 11 meteors an hour predawn. I’ve seen hundreds, possibly thousands, of meteors in my life just bey getting up early and heading outside.
(Special thanks to Waly Pacholka for permission to use his photo. See more of his high-quality astronomy pictures at AstroPics.com.)
Have you ever seen a fireball? Tell us about it in the comments section below.