Mike's Astro Photos
Jan.19 2011

Meteor Updates

by , under Comets & Meteors

I’ve been wanting to post an update about each of the meteors that have fallen recently, but because there have been so many I don’t have time to give each the attention it deserves, so I’ve decided to do a multi-meteor-update. In this update I will include AMS meteor plots and any other publicly available information on the following falls: 12/28/10 – PA, 12/29/10 – PA, 1/08/11 – Mississippi and 1/12/11 – Minnesota.  I consider these falls to be significant because they were seen from multiple states and the number of ams reported witnesses is in the top percentile of reported falls.

Additionally each of these falls is curious from the stand point that the timing is so close to each other. Reason tells us that sporadic meteor falls are random unrelated events and there is nothing linking a fall today in Pennsylvania to a fall tomorrow in Mississippi, HOWEVER, the sheer random coincidence of time and space for all of these events is at the very least odd. Further more several of these falls were accompanied with reports of subsequent falls in the same locations shortly there after — meaning multiple meteors falls.  There is not enough data here to make any conclusions, but I’ve been keeping close tabs on the large meteor fall rates over the last 2 years and the last 2-3 weeks has been heavy in meteor falls IMO.

12/28/2010 – Pennsylvania

2010-12-28 PA Meteor

2010/12/28 - PA Fireball

AMS Event ID: 929
Time: 16:45
Videos: York Water Company Security Video
AMS Witness Reports: 155
Sonic Boom Reported: Yes
Additional Information: Second largest reported fall of 2010. Wisconsin was the first.
Estimated Fall Area: Lancaster, PA
Possibility For Meteorites on the Ground: 80%

12/29/2010 – Pennsylvania


2010-12-29 / PA Fireball

AMS Event ID: 935
Time: 18:30
Videos: None
AMS Witness Reports: 30
Sonic Boom Reported: No
Additional Information:
Estimated Fall Area: Unknown
Possibility For Meteorites on the Ground: 50%

1/11/11 – Mississippi

2010/01/11 - Mississippi

2010/01/11 - Mississippi Fireball

AMS Event ID: 52
Time: 21:45
Videos: Trailer Park Video
AMS Witness Reports: 61
Sonic Boom Reported: Yes
Additional Information:
Estimated Fall Area: Southern Mississippi
Possibility For Meteorites on the Ground: 90%

1/12/2011 – Minnesota

01/12/2010 - Minnesota Fireball

01/12/2011 - Minnesota Fireball

AMS Event ID: 53
Time: 18:30
Videos: None
AMS Witness Reports: 21
Sonic Boom Reported:
Additional Information:
Estimated Fall Area:
Possibility For Meteorites on the Ground: 50%

There was a good conversation on the meteor observing list today regarding the ‘perceived increase in fireball activity’. The conclusion from all participants was there was no link to the recent fireballs and the passing of near Earth asteroids. Most agreed there was also no reason to conclude we are even experiencing an increase in fireballs anyway.

Carl Hergenrother, a NEO researcher, explained there is no correlation to witnessed fireball activity on Earth and NEOs that are reported in close approach to Earth, because, these reported NEOs are only a small subset of the actual NEOs flying by everyday anyway.

My understanding of what Chris Peterson of Cloudbait Observatory said is — sometimes fireball rates are going to go up and sometimes they are going to go down and that is just the way it is. Rates will ebb and flow, and correlating a
perceived increase in fireball rates for a certain time with approaching NEOs in that same time frame is a fallacy. It would be like saying, fireball rates went up right after christmas, that must be why those dead birds are falling from the sky.

Bob Lunsford of the American Meteor Society pointed out that an increase in reported fireballs does not correlate to an increase in actual fireball rates. It just means more people are seeing them and reporting them. This is a trend he has seen with the AMS reports since they were started. Explanations for this can include: more people with computers and internet access, increased interest in meteors and fireballs, better news coverage and better promotion of the AMS reporting form.

As humans we have a need to find meaning and explanation for things that happen when often times there is none. Sometimes rocks just fall from the sky and it doesn’t mean anything at all.

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1 Comment for this entry

  • Jeff Torchia


    Didn’t you say you had your all sky camera up and running. Did you capture any of these events. How much did it cost you and can you assist me in getting my setup going. It seems like this is going to be an unforgetable year.


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