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Fireball Sightings 2003

By Alastair McBeath


  • Introduction
  • Table of all Fireball Reports
  • Detailed Reports


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 2003. 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
03/01/3-4~09:00In daylight; end flareCumbria
03/01/15-1621:50Very bright; 3 reportsEssex & S Wales
03/01/19-2019:30Bright; slow; fragmentedLincolnshire
03/01/23-24~21:23-3/-5; 3 reportsLancs, W Yorks, Northumberland
03/01/27-2817:26-3/-5; in twilightNorthumberland
03/01/27-2819:50:36-13/-17; many reports*SE Spain
03/02/1-201:40Very bright; exploded*Co Cork, Ireland
03/02/5-6~21:55-2/-3; 4 reportsEngland N of Midlands
03/02/12-13~06:00Bright; media reports*Donegal, Ireland
03/02/13-1421:26Brilliant; 2 reportsEdinburgh & N Yorks
03/02/13-1404:45Fireball brightnessKent
03/02/19-2018:13-5/-7; several reports*London & Netherlands
03/02/19-2020:53-5/-7; several reportsNetherlands
03/02/21-22~22:00-5; 5 reportsLancs, Lincs, Herts, Berks, London
03/02/22-2320:00 +/- 15m-5/-9London
03/03/7-822:20-6?Co Durham
03/03/14-1519:08Very brightCardiff
03/03/26-27~06:00-15/-20; meteorites; many reports*Midwestern USA
03/04/9-1020:35Very bright; 2 reportsEdinburgh & W Yorks
03/04/20-2103:35Brilliant; seen from indoorsBristol
03/05/31-32~18:46In daylight; 2 reports*Netherlands
03/06/21-2223:40Fireball class; 2 reports*Essex & Kent
03/06/22-2322:30 +/- 10m-5/-9; 3 reports*Lancs & Cos. Dublin & Kildare
03/07/10-1122:41At least -5Surrey
03/07/16-17~20:40Very brightS France
03/07/19-20~00:55-01:00Bright; point-source meteor?*York
03/07/24-25~19:50Brighter than -5S France
03/07/30-31~00:36Bright; good train; PER?Sussex
03/08/4-5~00:15Very brightInverness
03/08/27-28~22:30Brilliant; several reportsCos. Clare & Dublin
03/09/6-720:15 +/- 15mBright; simultaneous soundBelfast
03/09/17-1820:10 +/- 10mBright; several vague reportsS England
03/09/27-2813:05Brilliant; meteorites*Orissa & West Bengal, India
03/09/29-3021:11Bright; several reports*Belgium, Netherlands, Germany
03/10/1-217:15 +/- 15mVery bright; in daylightSwansea & Cambridge
03/10/11-1221:06Full Moon brightnessHampshire
03/10/19-2017:50Bright; fragmentedBerkshire
03/11/12-1317:02-4/-5; fragmentedStaffordshire
03/11/12-1321:06-10/-12?; fragmentedHampshire
03/11/20-21~16:40Brilliant; in daylight; 2 reportsArgyll & Strath Spey
03/11/20-21~00:30Very bright; 2 reportsPerthshire & Powys
03/11/27-28~06:05Very bright; media reports onlyShropshire
03/12/3-4~18:10Very bright; fragmentedCornwall
03/12/8-901:59-6?N Yorkshire
03/12/11-12~19:20Bright; fragmented; 2 reports*Central Wales
03/12/11-12~23:03Bright; green*Manchester
03/12/19-2021:07BrilliantN Yorkshire
03/12/21-22~01:30Very brightNottinghamshire

Detailed Reports

DateTime (UT)NotesDetails
03/01/27-2819:50:36-13/-17; many reports*; SE SpainReports reached the Section on the January 27-28, 19:50 UT fireball from members of the British expatriate community of southern Spain, from where the meteor was widely-observed. A detailed report was published in the International Meteor Organization's journal WGN 31:2 for 2003 April, pp. 49-52, prepared by Spanish meteor expert Josep Trigo-Rodriguez and five of his colleagues from the Spanish SPMN meteor group. Their investigations showed the object had flown on a track passing roughly east to west high above near-Iberian North Africa. Any meteorites would likely have splashed down into the Atlantic Ocean. An online version of the report in Spanish is available here.
03/02/1-201:40Very bright; exploded*; Co Cork, IrelandThe February 1-2 fireball was unusual because it produced a simultaneous, relatively loud hissing noise, as heard by one witness outdoors who saw the meteor, and another indoors who did not. A third witness, indoors and listening to BBC Radio Five Live on medium wave, found that the radio signal was briefly interrupted at the same time by a curious electronic "whooshing" sound, different to the typical overnight atmospheric interference on medium wave. This might suggest such noises, previously thought produced by VLF or ELF radio waves, might actually be broadcasting across a range of different frequencies.
03/02/12-13~06:00Bright; media reports*; Donegal, IrelandMedia reports were all that arrived on the February 12-13 fireball, some of which suggested the object was moving roughly SSE to NNW.
03/02/19-2018:13-5/-7; several reports*; London & NetherlandsAside from being so widely-seen, the fireball at 18:13 UT on February 19-20 was also caught by two infrasound detectors at Deelen and De Bilt in Holland. Infrasound (at too low a frequency for humans to detect it) is a fascinating tool for making additional observations of fireballs, which can help triangulate to a location of part of the event in the atmosphere. The detectors also pick up other sounds, such as storms far out over the Atlantic, which is one of their main functions. More details are available here.
03/03/26-27~06:00-15/-20; meteorites; many reports*; Midwestern USAWhile significantly further afield than the meteors usually reported here, the March 26-27 fireball over America attracted considerable interest even in Britain. It became known as the Park Forest Meteorite fall, after a spectacular meteor flew over around local midnight, as seen across the American Midwest (from Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Michigan), and rained several hundred chondritic meteorites down on the Park Forest suburb of Chicago, Illinois, damaging roads, houses and cars. Luckily, nobody was injured, especially as some of the recovered pieces weighed between 2 to 3.5 kg.
03/05/31-32~18:46In daylight; 2 reports*; Netherlands
Infrasound detectors in the Netherlands caught the May 31 daylight fireball, as also on February 19-20. The object was seen from the Netherlands too. The infrasound data suggested the meteor had occurred a short way off the west coast of Holland. Dutch observers spotted a second fireball that same night (May 31 to June 1), between 02:30-03:00 UT. Neither were reported from the UK.
03/06/21-2223:40Fireball class; 2 reports*; Essex & KentThe June 21-22 fireball may have passed over the North Sea off the Yorkshire coast, and over northern England too, while the June 22-23 meteor probably passed far above the Irish Sea, fairly close to the Isle of Man, but neither trajectory could be better-defined than this.
03/06/22-2322:30 +/- 10m-5/-9; 3 reports*; Lancs & Cos. Dublin & Kildare
03/07/19-20~00:55-01:00Bright; point-source meteor?*; YorkWhether the July 19-20 event was a genuine point-source fireball, or simply a bright, brief satellite flare, could not be determined.
03/09/27-2813:05Brilliant; meteorites*; Orissa & West Bengal, India
Another unusually distant object for this list was the Orissa meteorite shower of September 27. The widely-seen fireball around 6:35 p.m. local time caused a door-rattling and window-breaking sonic boom. Tragically, one death followed, after a 55-year old man collapsed from shock on seeing the fireball. Three other shock-related injuries were reported, as well as damage to houses and craters formed in the fields. It was not clear how much of this damage was due to the shower of chondritic meteorites which landed in parts of Orissa, though the meteorites weighed up to 5.7 kg. For instance, a fire started after a kerosene stove in one home was knocked over, but it was unclear if a meteorite striking the house had actually caused the accident.
03/09/29-3021:11Bright; several reports*; Belgium, Netherlands, GermanyThe September 29-30 fireball probably flew over northern France, passing near Verdun. No UK reports were received on it.
03/12/11-12~19:20Bright; fragmented; 2 reports*; Central WalesThe December 11-12 and 12-13 fireballs could not be definitely identified as from the Geminid shower, whose maximum was on December 14, though it is possible some may have been. No other single source was responsible, from the information on each available.
03/12/11-12~22:30Bright*; Lancashire
03/12/11-12~23:03Bright; green*; Manchester
03/12/12-13~23:05-10/-13?*; Derbyshire

Prepared by Alastair McBeath, SPA Meteor Section Director.

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