Written by Ian O'Neill
Last night, the Colorado skies played host to a dazzling fireball event. The meteor blasted through the atmosphere, detonated and outshone the Moon by 100 times. It is therefore expected that there were many eyewitnesses, and the Cloudbait Observatory (5 km north of the town of Guffey, CO) is appealing to people to report their accounts of the fireball. Fortunately, the observatory managed to capture an all-sky camera video of the early morning explosion.
The Colorado fireball comes shortly after a similar event over Canada on November 20th, where over two dozen meteorite fragments have been recovered from agricultural land. We wait in anticipation to see if this huge Colorado fireball produced any similar fragments, but eyewitness accounts will be critical to aid such a search…
In the early hours of this morning, a large explosion dominated the Colorado skies. It was yet another large meteor ploughing through the atmosphere, ending its journey in an energetic detonation. Fortunately this event didn't suffer from the same affliction the Sudan 2008 TC3 meteoroid impact back on October 7th (i.e. lack of observers), and put on a show much like last month's Saskatchewan fireball (and the October Ontario meteor). All in all, North America is having a great meteor season with no lack of observers, eye witnesses and all-sky cameras.
Discussing last night's Colorado fireball, astronomer Chris Peterson describes the event: "In seven years of operation, this is the brightest fireball I've ever recorded. I estimate the terminal explosion at magnitude -18, more than 100 times brighter than a full Moon."
Peterson was using video recorded by Cloudbait Observatory's all-sky camera, dedicated to meteor spotting, when the surprise magnitude -18 burst lit up the skies.
Although the all-sky camera caught the fireball in the act, more information is needed about its location and altitude. There is every possibility that this fireball produced fragments that landed on the surface (much like last month's Canadian fireball). For meteorite hunters to find these pieces, eye-witnesses need to contact the Cloudbait Observatory to file their reports.
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