A daytime fireball seen today from Philadelphia, New York City, New Jersey and other parts of the east coast turned heads and made waves. Over 20 AMS reports were filed within an hour of the fall and almost all of them put the space rock somewhere in the Atlantic.
The image below represents the plotting of the witness reports received by the AMS website in the first hour of this fall. 20+ reports in 1 hour for a daytime fireball, means this was a significant meteor event. The red person icon means the witness saw the meteor traveling left to right. The green icon means the person saw the meteor traveling right to left. The green line is the direction the witness first saw the fireball. The yellow line is where they last saw it. The red line is my ‘quick guess’ at the path of this fireball based on early reports.
If you witnessed this spectacular event, please leave a comment and tell us what you saw. Also please report the fireball to the AMS.
UPDATE 2/14/2011 – 8:23 PM – Reports keep coming into the AMS. We have had over 50 already making this a heavily sighted event. I updated the above plot with the latest reports.
Marc Fries thinks he found the meteor on doppler radar. Here’s what he had to say:
I think I may have found it on radar. The radar data is noisy on all the radars in range, but there is one feature that appears in the 1736 UTC data set of the KDIX radar outside Philly. It features multiple altitude signals and a Doppler velocity pair (i.e. turbulence). Location is 40.19498, -73.6645. If it is a meteorite signature then it is roughly the size of the Grimsby fall.
Two words: Scuba gear. Or two other words: Fishy Squisher.
The AMS Fireball logs for this event have been published.
Update 2/15/2011 – Radar Images
Marc Fries of Radar Meteorites sent me these 3D radar images of a possible hit of yesterday’s fireball.
This is what Marc had to say about the radar data:
This was the product of a quick 15-minute data exam before I had to take my son to his doctor’s appointment. I’ve looked a bit more and there are a few interesting items in there that I would suggest as search targets if this were over land, but this is the only one that features both multi-sweep returns and observed turbulence. The first image is a reflectivity image – note how freakin’ noisy the data is. I don’t know why but all the radars in view are seeing this. It might be multi-bounce returns from high waves, if there happens to be high winds running at the time. The second image is the Doppler measurement. Note the paired towards (green) and away from (red) the radar values. This indicates that there was turbulence in that region. Both of these features show up in known meteorite falls, although there is currently nothing that is 100% accurate indicator of a meteorite fall. Still, this feature is roughly in the time and space indicated by your data.
I went looking through the Nexrad files myself to poke around and found this bright return in one of the views. Its pretty close to the red arrow in the trajectory estimate based on witness reports. If this were the meteor (big if), then there would be a possibility of meteorites on Long Island, possibly between Levittown and East Massapequa.
Update 2/15/2011 – Over 230 observations of the NYC February 14th have been submitted to the AMS website making 2/14/11 NYC/Philly Meteor the 2nd most reported meteor of all time. Second only to The Wisconsin Meteor of 2010. There is still time to beat out WI, which holds the record at 323 witness reports. If you witnessed this meteor, please report it to the AMS.
Update 2/16/2011 – Bill Cooke from NASA’s meteoroid office sent me the results from his analysis of infrasound data which enables him to estimate the total energy and total mass of the meteor. This is what Bill had to say:
We did pick up this event at the Bermuda station, with the back azimuth consistent with the doppler radar as reported by Mark Fries. Energy estimate is ~10 tons TNT, which equates to ~0.9 m diameter rock, with a mass of about 850 kg. A bit lower than my initial guesstimate, but I did not have the infrasound available then.
Update 2/17/2011 00:23 – I received this interesting comment and image from Peter.
I looked at one of the 1736 images from the DIX radar…definately the meteoroid. Lots of echos, some indicating hard targets and also a trail of smoke returns. I have an image, but don’t know how to load it to this site. I would not rule out some iron landing on Long Island.