New Year’s Eve Fireball

NEW YEAR’S FIREBALL: The first bright fireball of the New Year streaked over the southwestern USA on Jan. 1st at 03:15 UT. It was visible from Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico. “I was able to see it out my window,” reports amateur astronomer Thomas Ashcraft from his rural observatory outside of Santa Fe. “It was brilliant turquoise blue.” Ashcraft operates a combination all-sky camera/forward-scatter meteor radar system, which captured the fireball’s flight. Click on the image to play the movie–and don’t forget to turn up the volume to hear the ghostly radar echo:

Cameras belonging to NASA’s All-Sky Fireball Network also recorded the fireball from multiple locations. An orbit calculated from those data show that the fireball was a random meteoriod hailing from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It hit Earth’s atmosphere at 26 km/s (58,000 mph), which is relatively slow compared to other meteoroids, and disintegrated 82 km above Earth’s surface.