Notable Meteors & Fireballs : 2017 Sep-Oct

Here, in reverse chronological order, is a summary of notable meteors and fireballs reported during September and October:

2017 Oct 31st  06:12 UT

This fireball was reported by Anne James-Burns (Eccles).  The fireball had a duration of 1-2 seconds and was descending in her southern sky, leaving a short-lived train.

Additional reports of t his fireball were made to the IMO and can be viewed  here.  A preliminary analysis by the IMO suggests that the fireball was located over the Bristol area.


2017 Oct 26-27 : a busy night for Bill Ward

Having been clouded out for the previous 3 weeks, Bill Ward (Kilwinning) made very good use of clear skies on the night of Oct 26-27.

He reports that he captured images of 239 meteors (additional meteor-like images were eliminated as they were due to satellites, cosmic rays, etc).

Some of the meteors imaged show interesting light curves, a good number being double peaked.

In some cases, the first peak was the brighter one; in other cases, as in the accompanying image, it was the second peak that was brighter.

Bill also captured spectra of several meteors, including an iron meteor for which he comments that its light curve showed the bright onset that seems to be typical of such meteors.  The colourised image (just covering the violet to green part of the spectrum) is shown below:


2017 Oct 21st  04:09 UT (05:09 BST)

Extensive cloud during the nights around Orionid maximum meant that conditions were rather unsuitable for visual observing. Observers who operate automated video cameras could, however, leave their systems running and let them catch any meteors that happened to appear during short lived cloud breaks.

One such meteor was this Orionid fireball, which was imaged by William Stewart (Ravensmoor, Cheshire) and two other members of the NEMETODE group. William also captured part of its spectrum as can be seen to the bottom right of the accompanying image (the breaks in the image of the fireball itself are an artefact of the conversion of the video image to a still image).


With the fireball having been imaged from three locations, it was possible to triangulate its atmospheric trajectory and to determine its ground track.


As can be seen from the accompanying diagram, this was over the southern Pennines with the fireball heading in a roughly south to north direction (the Orionid radiant being in the southern sky at the time).


The fireball was probably around magnitude -5.


More images from the Orionid period can be seen in the   main Orionid report


TA Awards

Congratulations go to regular contributor Alex Pratt, who has been awarded the 2017 George Alcock award, as voted for by readers of The Astronomer magazine. The award is given to the person who has made the best contribution to the magazine over the previous 12 months.

Another NEMETODE member, Denis Buczynski, received the magazine’s 2017 Alan Young award, for his images submitted to the magzine over the same period, the highlight being an image captured from Tarbatness in northern Scotland that showed a spectacular fireball at 00:36 UT on 2017 Jan 22, appearing above an auroral arc.


2017 Sep 14th 05:09 UT (06:09 BST)

This fireball was witnessed by Elliot Carpenter (Longbenton, Newcastle upon Tyne) in his eastern sky. He described it as being bright green in colour and having a duration of 1-2 seconds.

The fireball was also witnessed from a number of locations across northern England, the London area and the Netherlands. Winesses in the Netherlands saw it in their north western sky while those in the London area saw it in the northern sky. All of this fits in with the fireball being over the north sea and closest to NE England.  These additional reports of this fireball can be viewed  here

No images of the fireball have come to light so far. This is probably due to the fireball occurring when the twilight was rather bright and hence most automated camera fireball systems would have already “switched off” at the end of the night. Experience also shows that video cameras tend to perform less well than the human eye at picking up fireballs in twilight conditions.


2017 Sep 9th  22:43 UT (23:43 BST)

Alex Pratt (Leeds) captured this image of a September Perseid fireball above the stars of the Plough at 22:43:15 UT  via his north facing video camera.  This “still” image has been created from the original video and the breaks in the fireball along its path are related to this conversion, rather than being properties of the fireball.

Alex also adds, however, that the camera involved operates indoors and is looking through double glazing and this has led to the additional artefact of the parallel line below the fireball.


(the September Perseids, not to be confused with the Perseids of August, are a minor meteor shower active during the first half of September which peaks on September 9th).


2017 Sep 5th  22:09 UT (23:09 BST)

Tony Quinn (Winkley, North Yorkshire) reported a fireball that he saw through cloud and cloud gaps. The fireball, probably about magnitude -6, was in his north western sky and heading north.  He describes it as fragmenting as it descended from around altitude 60 deg to altitude 20 deg and leaving a long train.

The fireball was also seen from a number of other locations, with most witnesses being in central and eastern Scotland.  Unfortunately, almost all witnesses seem to have been on the eastern side of its atmospheric trajectory and this makes it tricky to accurately determine that trajectory.  However, it seems likely that the fireball started over the Kintyre/Isle of Arran area (or possibly a little further south) and headed in a roughly NNW direction along the west coast of Scotland towards Mull.

Additional reports of this fireball can be viewed  here