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Fireball Sightings from 2001

By Alastair McBeath

Contents

Introduction

Fireball reports, especially those made from the British Isles and nearby areas, are always welcomed by the SPA Meteor Section. See the Making and Reporting Fireball Observations page on this website for details of what to record on seeing a fireball, where and how to report your data.

Below is a list of some of the fireballs reported to the Section from 2001. It mainly consists of those events seen away from the major meteor shower maxima (when fireballs are more common), unless the objects were not part of the meteor shower in question, or were particularly impressive. A "*" in the 'Magnitude and Notes' column indicates further details are given in the second table.

Table of all Fireball Reports

DateTime (UT)Magnitude and NotesObserved from
01/01/5-6~17:15-5/-6?Lanarkshire
01/01/15-1622:02-5/-6 or brighter; several reportsScotland
01/01/24-25~06:00-06:15-4/-5?Glasgow
01/01/25-26~19:20Very brightVery bright
01/01/26-27~00:10-5?W Yorkshire
01/02/8-919:42At least -5/-6; 25 reports*Wales, N England & Scotland
01/02/8-9~20:00-20:15Bright*Northumberland
01/02/9-10~19:20-19:30Very bright*Lancs & Northumberland
01/02/9-1020:21-5/-9?; fragmented; 8 reports*N England & Scotland
01/02/17-1818:37-6; slowCheshire
01/03/2-321:15-4/-5Co Durham
01/03/2-321:32-5; slowTeesside
01/03/13-14EveningSeveral events?*Kent & Beds
01/03/31-32~22:40-5?; 2 reportsS England
01/04/5-6~21:00BrightOxfordshire
01/04/10-1120:40-3/-4; 6 reports*S England
01/04/11-1223:17-4; terminal flashNorthumberland
01/04/15-1600:32-3/-5London
01/04/17-1801:55-3/-4; slowSheffield
01/05/12-1323:20-4/-5; slowMerseyside
01/05/30-31~02:00Very bright; long-lasting trainNorthamptonshire
01/06/13-1422:18-2/-3?; in strong twilight*Anglesey
01/07/8-901/07/8-9BrightHertfordshire
01/07/13-1400:43-2/-3?; in strong twilight*Cardiff
01/07/26-27~02:40Bright; in strong twilightKent
01/07/27-2800:30-7/-9; CAPNorthumberland
01/08/28-29~19:30Very bright; twilight skyNear Edinburgh
01/08/28-29~20:20BrightEdinburgh
01/09/4-5~21:40-6/-9Edinburgh
01/09/9-10~20:58Very bright; 2 reportsE Sussex & New Forest
01/09/9-10~21:54Very brightKent
01/10/12-13~16:00Brilliant; in daylight*Devon
01/10/15-1623:02-5/-8; flaredBuckinghamshire
01/10/22-23~05:25Brilliant; fragmentingWorcestershire
01/10/27-2819:20:20-14/-20?; 30 reports; imaged*UK, N Sea, Holland & Germany
01/11/6-700:29Very brightHartlepool
01/11/20-21~23:00Bright; slowStirlingshire
01/11/20-21~23:15Bright; fastMidlothian
01/12/1-222:40 +/- 5m-5/-6; re-entry event; 29 reports*S England, N France, Low Countries
01/12/15-1620:09-6; slowN Yorkshire
01/12/21-2222:20-3/-5?Lincolnshire
01/12/26-2719:22-3/-4?; slow; fragmentedStaffordshire
01/12/26-27~20:14-5?; 2 reportsAvon & Essex
01/12/28-2921:42-5/-7; slow; fragmented; 2 reportsNE Scotland
01/12/30-31~19:40BrightGlamorgan

Detailed Reports

DateTime (UT)NotesDetails
01/02/8-919:42At least -5/-6; 25 reports*; Wales, N England & ScotlandA Special Report is available elsewhere on this site for the four fireballs seen on February 8-9 and 9-10.
01/02/8-9~20:00-20:15Bright*; Northumberland
01/02/9-10~19:20-19:30Very bright*; Lancs & Northumberland
01/02/9-1020:21-5/-9?; fragmented; 8 reports*; N England & Scotland
01/03/13-14EveningSeveral events?*; Kent & BedsPress and TV notices suggested there may have been several fireballs during the evening hours of March 13-14, with a lifeboat from Kent launched, apparently thinking a ship was sending up distress flares in the Channel. Two sightings of fireballs reached the Section, one around 18:50 UT from England, the other at 19:50 UT from Germany, suggesting there had indeed been more than one fireball event over western Europe that evening.
01/04/10-1120:40-3/-4; 6 reports*; S EnglandThe April 10-11 event was reported by observers from Surrey and Bedfordshire west to Dorset and Somerset in southern England, who were out watching the ISS just concluding its pass as the fireball happened. Most of the sightings indicated the fireball fragmented late in its flight. The ISS 'distraction' meant few people could give even a rough estimate for the meteor's sky-position, but the object was probably out over the western Channel, perhaps heading there from above south Devon, and on towards the Cotentin Peninsula of northern France, following an approximately NW (perhaps NNW) to SE (or SSE) track.
01/06/13-1422:18-2/-3?; in strong twilight*; AngleseyBoth the June 13-14 and July 13-14 events were likely to have been significantly brighter than the magnitudes above suggested, because of the bright skies in which they were seen. Each was spotted quite low to the NE by their respective witness.
01/07/13-1400:43-2/-3?; in strong twilight*; Cardiff
01/10/12-13~16:00Brilliant; in daylight*; DevonSeveral possible fireball reports were received dated between October 10-11 and 14-15, including a magnitude -1/0 sporadic meteor seen by three separate Northumberland observers who were out watching an auroral display on October 11-12. Unfortunately, many of the other reports were too vague to tell when they had happened. The lone definite fireball on October 12-13 happened in full daylight!
01/10/27-2819:20:20-14/-20?; 30 reports; imaged*; UK, N Sea, Holland & Germany
A Special Report on the spectacular fireball over the North Sea of October 27-28 (including images extracted from an accidental security video recording of the meteor's near-terminal flares) can be found elsewhere on this website.
01/12/1-222:40 +/- 5m-5/-6; re-entry event; 29 reports*; S England, N France, Low CountriesThe fragmenting fireball of December 1-2 showed the typical features expected from a man-made re-entry event. It had a very long apparent trail and was exceptionally slow-moving compared to natural meteors. Best-estimates for its visible flight suggested timings between 30 to 40 seconds. It was probably part of a Russian Proton rocket, launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome about 4.5 hours earlier, as although its re-entry was not expected until around 04:40 UT on December 2, the enlarged state of the Earth's upper atmosphere at the time because of increased solar activity, seems to have created enough extra drag to bring part of the rocket down early. A further, very similar, fireball was seen from places in the USA around 04:20 UT on December 1-2, which was probably part of the same rocket launch.

Prepared by Alastair McBeath, SPA Meteor Section Director.

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