Wednesday 27 December 2017

Fireball over southern California.

The American Meteor Society has received reports of a bright fireball meteor being seen over the southwestern United States slightly before 5.15 pm local time on Sunday 24 December 2017 (slightly before 1.15 am on Monday 25 December GMT). People have reported seeing the event from California, Arizona and Baja California (Mexico), with the majority of sightings coming from California. A fireball is defined as a meteor (shooting star) brighter than the planet Venus. These are typically caused by pieces of rock burning up in the atmosphere, but can be the result of man-made space-junk burning up on re-entry. The object was seen moving from northeast  to southwest over the eastern part of the state. 

Fireball over southern California on 24 December 2017. American Meteor Society.

Objects of this size probably enter the Earth's atmosphere several times a year, though unless they do so over populated areas they are unlikely to be noticed. They are officially described as fireballs if they produce a light brighter than the planet Venus. It is possible, though unlikely, that this object will have produced meteorites that reached the surface (an object visible in the sky is a meteor, a rock that falls from the sky and can be physically held and examined is a meteorite), though most meteorites come from larger objects that penetrate further into the atmosphere before exploding, and therefore have a better chance of producing fragments that reach the surface.

  Map showing areas where sightings of the meteor were reported, and the route of the object (blue arrow). American Meteor Society.

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