Fireball: Feb. 13, 2009
Readers, if you photographed this event, please submit
On Friday, Feb. 13th, around 10:00 to 10:15 pm EST, people in central
Kentucky heard loud booms, felt their houses shake, and some saw
a fireball streaking through the sky. The nature of this event is
still under investigation. Possibilities include a small asteroid
or a piece of space junk entering Earth's atmosphere. National Weather
Service reports that the fireball was debris from the Feb.
10th collision of Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251 satellites may
Morehead State University, Morehead, Kentucky
Comments: Daniel Graves, a space science major
at MSU: "I was in Morehead at the time of the fireball, we
were actually making observations of a distant AGN with our 21m
radio telescope, and I had just stepped outside to check on cloud
cover in the direction we were observing; clouds can attenuate the
radio signal slightly, so we have to know where it is and compensate
for it. When I saw the fireball I instantly assumed that it was
debris. I've seen other satellite debris before (last years ASAT
test in February). The coloring and sound matched nearly dead on.
The fireball took about 7 seconds to cross the sky, rather slow
compared to other things I've seen. It was definitely ablating material;
it looked like a burning bright-white magnesium filament."
Comments: Bill Meck, WLEX-TV Chief Meteorologist:
"About 10:00 est Friday night we began to receive several calls
from people throughout central and eastern Kentucky of a loud boom
which was strong enough to shake houses over an area about 30 miles
wide centered near London Kentucky. What appeared to be either a
fireball or a piece of satellite debris was seen as a blue/green
streak across the sky from as far north as Paris and Lexington Kentucky…about
70 miles from London. An Emergency Manager in the area said the
FAA confirmed it was satellite debris…but would like to have better
confirmation. The reports also say it was on a more vertical trajectory
compared to the normal 'shooting star.'"
near Mt. Vernon, Kentucky
Comments: Connie Thompson: "Just to give you
an update on the green light in the sky last night shortly after
10:00 I was driving home along US150 E just out of Mt. Vernon (in
Rockcastle County), when the world appeared to explode - in green.
For 2-3 seconds the enitre night sky was lit up with a strange green
light. My first thought was any minute now, I'll see a mushroom
cloud, but then I thought that is ridiculous. I kept telling my
self that it was just lightening, but I have never seen green lightening.
I didn't feel the earth shake, however that just happened to be
the song playing on the radio at the time (haha). Please do keep
us informed about what caused this strange event. "
Jessamine County, 10 miles south of Lexington, Kentucky
Comments: Holly Heitter: "I live in Jessamine
County and I did see a huge flash in the dark sky little bit after
10 pm last night. I was watching TV and then out of the blue, I
saw a huge flash of light which made me jump and I was telling myself
"what the heck? lightning from a clear dark sky?""
Comments: Dean Vencill, Captain, Richmond Fire
and Rescue: "We were sitting at the firehouse at station 5
in richmond watching movies when this happened. I had my head laid
back in a chair and all the sudden it shook twice like a percussion
shock hit the building. I thought it was a earthquake also, so I
ask one of the other firefighters if he felt that and he did too."
Comments: David Stephanski: "About 9:50 I
saw the object streak through the southern sky. It looked like a
large meteor or satellite, it did have a greenish tinge. The object
was on a [nearly due south] path that looked like it would have
taken it to Harrisburg or Danville."
Comments: Candace Philpot: "Tonight,
about 10:15 p.m., my son and I saw a blueish-green fireball in the
sky. My husband said that it was probably just a shooting star,
but it looked very different and did not shoot across the sky, rather
it fell from the sky. It landed someone over our neighbor's home,
probably somewhere up in the woods. We dismissed it after a few
minutes of conversation, but this was definitely something to see.
It was large and blueish-green; looked similar to a comet."
Blooming Grove, Kentucky
Comments: Doug and Angie Hacker: "At
10 pm I was turning onto my street when I saw what appeared to be
lightning. I looked out my car window and as I did..I saw an oval
shaped, bright white object going across the sky at an incredibly
fast pace. I called my husband to tell him what I saw, and as I
did..we both heard a loud 'Boom' in the distance. I'm not sure what
it was...but we think it could've been a meteor. We live in the
Blooming Grove area of Jackson County....."
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