fireball and meteor reports

Scandinavian Fireball Sightings: Jan. 17, 2009
Readers, if you witnessed or photographed this event, please submit a report.

Summary: On Jan. 17, 2009, at 1909 UT, a meteoroid of unknown size hit Earth's atmosphere over Scandinavia and exploded with a thunderous, rumbling boom. The fireball was so bright it turned the nighttime sky blue:

Click to play the movie

The movie was recorded by an automated video camera belonging to Roger Svensson in Sweden. Jacob Kuiper of the Dutch National Weather Service says the phones at his offices were ringing off the hook. "The Dutch Coast Guard has been overwhelmed with eyewitness reports, sometimes 20 phone calls in a few minutes." Observers reporting to the Danish astronomy web site Astronomibladet say the fireball's brightness exceeded that of a full Moon; early evening drivers "could not help noticing it, despite being blinded by the opposite traffic."

Eyewitness Accounts:

Location: Denmark
Comments: Torben Höjholdt sends this movie from his home in Denmark where a standard webcam (not the low-light variety) recorded the flash from his driveway. The fireball itself is not shown; it was on the other side of the sky.

Location: Dutch National Weather Service
Comments: General aviation meteorologist Jacob Kuiper: "The Dutch Coast Guard has been overwhelmed with eyewitness reports, sometimes 20 phone calls in a few minutes. People along the whole North Seacoast reported the sighting. It was a lucky shot that parts of the Netherlands were situated in a cloudless gap between 2 frontal systems shown in this satellite image made at 1900 UTC, just 9 minutes before time of fireball's appearance."

"There were a lot of car drivers in The Netherlands reporting the phenomenon, especially drivers on roads in the Netherlands oriented SW-NE. One of these roads is the famous 'Afsluitdijk' connecting the west part of the Netherlands to the north-eastern part. The orientation of this long and completely straight road was used by the drivers to tell where they saw the meteor. It was located exactly in the direction where the road reached the horizon--"just like it landed at the end of the Afsluitdijk," they said."

Using this information and other sightings Kuiper has made a preliminary estimate of where the fireball cut through the atmosphere--at the intersection of the arrows in this Google Earth map:

Location: southern Denmark
Comments: Asger Ellekrog: "Living in the southern part of Denmark, my wife and I - as well as many many other danes/scandinavians, were witnesses to the fireball. Though we saw it indirectly, as we were painting the first floor of our house, a little past 8pm local time. Suddenly a bright bluish light was flashing through the windows - bright as daylight. It lasted only three-four seconds. What the hell was that?? my wife asked, my first thought was a lightning-flash, but since we heard no thunder within the first 10-20 seconds, it couldn't be lightning. The extreme brightness of the flashes, made us conclude, that it could possibly have been a meteor. Then one-two minutes after the flashes, we heard a deep distant rumble, not very loud, but it lasted five to eight seconds. Likely connected to the flashes."

"A few hours later, we saw the video from the Swedish security-camera. A very impressive experience, though a little scary, my wife thought."

"A special note: A few minutes before the meteor appeared, danish television began the opening-celebration of a brand new concert hall. Among the invitees was the royal family, members of the danish government, celebrities and so on. Due to its design, the new concert hall is often referred to, as 'The Meteor'..."

Location: Ringsted, Denmark
Comments: Lars Kristian Larsen: "I did not see the fireball, but I did see the night sky illuminated bright blue for 2-3 seconds."

Location: Göteborg, Sweden
Comments: Toby Rutland: "I'm about 50km north of Gothenburg and saw the bright blue flash through the living room window. It was almost definitely to the south and was at least as bright as close lightning but I didn't notice any sound. Wish I'd seen more!"

Klaas Jobse at Oostkapelle in the southern Netherlands runs an all sky camera and captured the fireball very low in north eastern direction: photo.

More news reports and videos: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.



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