Fireball meteor caught on camera
Updated: Saturday, September 28 2013, 09:40 PM EDT
By: Adam Del Rosso
If you were awake and outside around 11:30 Friday night, there's a good chance a bright light streaking across the sky caught your attention. That flash happened to be a fireball meteor.
Not only are they tough to see in person, but they are even harder to catch on camera. One person here in the Valley was lucky enough to do just that.
"It was just a perfect night. It was cloudless, very mild temperatures. And we had quite a gathering," said Angela McClain, who snapped the picture.
McClain, along with 60 others, were at Faith Ranch in Jewett, coincidentally, for an astronomy workshop.
"I decided to set up the camera and program it to take a series of long exposures in order to later on make a star trail out of it," she said.
Little did she know she was about to capture a rare shot of a fireball meteor.
"It was just very confusing because I've never experienced something like this before. Everything (was) lit up. Everything, everywhere," she explained.
John Kaminski, director of the ranch, also witnessed it and said, "It seemed like a bolt of lightning. The flash of it was just amazing. As I looked in the sky, it was just this ball flying through the air with this huge tail."
According to the American Meteor Society, reports of the fireball have been coming in from all over the region-- from the Carolinas to Canada.
"To have a fireball meteor that bright and seen by that many people, you need to actually have a fairly substantially large rock impacting the earth's atmosphere. So maybe (it was) the size of a grapefruit or something of that size or maybe even a little bit bigger than that," said Penn State astrophysicist Chris Parma.
"It's extraordinary that so many people saw it at that time of night. According to my photograph, it was taken at 11:33 and 44 seconds," McClain said.
Kaminski added, "The whole night we spent here looking at the stars. Pointing out all these different stars and planets and God just put his signature on it."
Parma estimated that there have been about 10 or 12 unpredicted fireballs this month alone. He said that could mean that Earth has passed through a new area of debris along its orbit.