The American Meteor Society has received reports of a bright fireball meteor being seen over the eastern New York State, slightly before 6.15 am Eastern Standard Time (slightly before 10.15 am GMT) on Thursday 28 March 2019. The meteor was also seen from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Jersey, Virginia, Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Florida, Massachusetts, West Virginia, and Washington DC, though the majority of the reports came from New York. 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.
Stack image (image made up of several different photographs) of the 28 March 2019 New York meteor, taken from Douglassville, Pennsylvania. Peter Deterline/American Meteor Society.
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. This object appeared to move southeast-to-northwest, disappearing to the northwest of Pine Hill in Ulster County, New York.
Map showing areas where sightings of the meteor were reported, and the apparent path of the object (blue arrow). 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. The brightness of a meteor is caused by friction with the Earth's atmosphere, which is typically far greater than that caused by simple falling, due to the initial trajectory of the object. Such objects typically eventually explode in an airburst called by the friction, causing them to vanish as an luminous object. However this is not the end of the story as such explosions result in the production of a number of smaller objects, which fall to the ground under the influence of gravity (which does not cause the luminescence associated with friction-induced heating).
Estimated 3D trajectory of the 28 March 2019 New York Meteor. American Meteor Society.
These 'dark objects' do not continue along the path of the original bolide, but neither do they fall directly to the ground, but rather follow a course determined by the atmospheric currents (winds) through which the objects pass. Scientists are able to calculate potential trajectories for hypothetical dark objects derived from meteors using data from weather monitoring services
Witness reports can help astronomers to understand these events. If you witness a fireball-type meteor over the US you can report it to the American Meteor Society here.
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