Notable Meteors & Fireballs : 2018 January

Here, in reverse chronological order, is a summary of notable meteors and fireballs reported to the section during January 2018:

2018 Jan 19th  02:25 UT

This fireball was captured on video by Stan Armstrong (Loudwater Valley, Bucks).

Single frame from Stan’s video

It also appears to have been imaged low in the NE sky by the all-sky Bayfordbury camera of the University of Herts

http://star.herts.ac.uk/allsky/imageget.php?jde=2458137.60035&c=1

Bayfordbury image of the 02:25 fireball

Five members of the NEMETODE group have reported detecting this fireball.  Nick James (Chelmsford) imaged the start of the fireball via his NW facing camera.  Stephen Bosley (Clanfield, Hants) also captured part of its track via his NE facing camera. James Dawson (Nottingham) also captured it at the edge of the field of view of his SE facing camera. Ray Taylor (East Yorkshire) captured most of it, low in the sky, via his SE facing camera.

Ray Taylor’s image

From the Chelmsford and Clanfield images, Nick has derived a provisional ground track heading in an easterly direction over southern Norfolk. The early stages were found to be of mag -2, but it can be clearly seen from Stan’s video and Ray’s image that the later stages were much brighter.

William Stewart (Ravensmoor, Cheshire) reports having captured a spectrum of it and detecting its radio detection via forward scatter.

There were also many reports to the IMO

http://fireballs.imo.net/members/imo_view/event/2018/221

The IMO’s automatically generated provisional ground track from this  was initially somewhat further northwest. This was due to the inclusion of a number of reports which referred to the event at 01:06 UT (see below). These reports were initially also responsible for their average report time for the event being skewed earlier by around 20 minutes. These extra reports have now been removed, bringing the average report time closer to the true value and  moving their provisional ground track into Norfolk.

 

2018 Jan 19th 01:06 UT

The five earlier reports in the IMO list referred to above tie in with a visual fireball report received from Kevin Boyle (Stoke-on-Trent).  Kevin saw the fireball in his southern sky, starting below Cancer and ending about 10 degrees above the horizon. He described it as being slow moving (duration 3-4 seconds), bright green in colour and comparable at its brightness with Venus.

This fireball also shows up on an image captured by the Bayfordbury camera of the University of Hertfordshire.

http://star.herts.ac.uk/allsky/imageget.php?jde=2458137.54576&c=1

Bayfordbury image of the 01:06 UT fireball

The other IMO reports were from witnesses in south midlands who also reported the fireball to be in their southern sky, suggesting that the fireball may have been over southern England or the English Channel. Unfortunately there seem to have been no reports of the fireball from France and so the trajectory remains uncertain.

The reports to the IMO can be viewed here:

http://fireballs.imo.net/members/imo_view/event/2018/308

 

2018 Jan 7th  05:17 UT

This fireball was captured on video by 4 cameras of the NEMETODE network ( http://www.nemetode.org ). Three of the extracted still images are reproduced below, along with a map showing the ground track derived from the videos.

Alex Pratt’s image of the fireball

Alex Pratt (Leeds) only captured the start of the path near the edge of his NE facing camera.

William Stewart(Ravensmoor, Cheshire) also captured just the start.  

Ray Taylor (Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire) fared better, capturing the whole of the path – the curvature being an image artefact.

Jim Lowe (East Barnet) also imaged the while of its path.

Analysis of the four images by William indicated that the fireball started near the coast of Lincolnshire and was heading in a SW to NW trajectory.

It was probably around mag -3 and a member of the Alpha Hydrids, this being a minor shower that reaches its peak during the first week of January.

William Stewart’s image of the fireball
Ray Taylor’s image of the fireball

 

 

The derived ground track of the fireball of 2018 Jan 7

2018 January 1st  22:40 UT

This fireball, probably around mag -5, was reported by Nick Froom (Tyneside), Shaun Turner (Lauder, Berwickshire) and Mackay Lauren (Lanarkshire).

Nick saw the event in his western sky, heading from the WNW to WSW, showing colours of yellow and orange and having a duration of 1-2 seconds.

Mackay saw the fireball heading from the WSW to the SSW, having a duration of 3-4 econds and being yellow in colour.

Shaun saw the fireball heading from the WSW to the SW, being orange in colour, having a duration of 1-2 seconds and fragmenting into three pieces near the end.

These and other visual reports of the fireball can be viewed here http://spa.imo.net/imo_view/event/2018/13

The fireball was also imaged by several cameras in the NEMETODE network http://nemetode.org

Two of these images were captured by Mike Foylan (Rathmolyon, Ireland) and Andy McCrea (Bangor, N Ireland). The accompanying map shows (in yellow) the trajectory as determined from these images. It is quite similar to that automatically derived from the visual reports. Allistair Gordon (Carrickfergus, N Ireland) also reports having imaged it. David Anderson (Ayrshire) may also have imaged the fireball through cloud.

The ground track of the 2018 Jan 1 fireball, as derived from the NEMETODE images

Fireball at approx 17:33 UT on 2017 Dec 31

There have been large numbers of reports of a spectacular fireball that crossed the UK at around 17:33 UT on New Year’s Eve.

Hundreds of reports were submitted to the IMO.  These can be viewed via this IMO link (this link and the whole imo.net website did become inaccessible for quite a while around 8pm – a sign of the stress being put on the site by the huge number of reports being received).

As can be seen from the accompanying map, which has been extracted from the above link, most witnesses were on the eastern side of the country.  People further west were less fortunate, with William Stewart (Cheshire), Tracie Heywood (Staffordshire) and Bill Ward and David Anderson (both in SW Scotland) all reporting overcast skies.

Alan Pounder (North Yorkshire) saw the fireball cross his northern sky, starting in the NNE and ending in the NNW.  He reported it  having a duration of 3-4 seconds and leaving a persistent train with a path length of about 90 degrees and a duration of 5 seconds, describing the fireball in this way: “Glowing, green/red colours, breaking up into small bright objects, train faded out, no twisting or other distortion“.  No terminal flare was seen, instead he noted it  “Breaking up along train into smaller objects which faded out close to line of train, fragmentation mainly white not showing colours of train. No terminal break up, just fading out “.

Bart Fischer (Edinburgh) saw the fireball crossing the sky from east to west and reported its colours as yellow and green. He described the fireball in this way “I’ve noticed it at around 5:35pm as early as it started burning entering the atmosphere from the east (I was watching the moon at the time it looked like an airplane for a few seconds, barely moving light heading in my direction first appeared on the bottom-right from the moon). The spot was brighter than the current large moon but there was no large flash. It was burning steadily for 5-10 second then it broke up into at least 4 large pieces each with it’s own trail, again no flash here. All disappeared within further 5 seconds heading west toward Glasgow.”

Matthew Firth (South Yorkshire) saw the fireball travelling from the NE to the NW , estimated its duration as being between 5 and 10 seconds and described it as being light green in colour.

Jennifer Waples (Great Brickhill, Bucks) also saw the fireball crossing her northern sky, describing the fireball as being green in colour and having a duration of 3-4 seconds.

Hamish Milne (Dundee) saw the fireball crossing his southern sky from left to right and described it as being light green in colour, having a duration of 3-4 seconds and fragmenting near the end.

Donald Isles (Tayside) and two colleagues saw the fireball through a doubled glazed window as it travelled from the ESE to the SSW, recording its colours as green and yellow and adding “Split in two as it disappeared. Abrupt ending“.

Robert Shanks (Gilberdyke, East Yorkshire) witnessed the fireball through a window, estimated its duration to be 3-4 seconds, described its colours as light green and white and added “Fireball reached full brightness after about 3 seconds then dimmed to nothing in about 0.5 second“. He also observed it fragmenting “What was left appeared light green, continued forward separated into 2 pieces, one in front of the other, which both appeared to curve downwards before disappearing“.

C J Teasdale (Tyneside) saw the fireball descending downwards towards the western sky and fragmenting, reporting its colours as “green, light green, light yellow

T G” (Amesbury, Wiltshire) saw the fireball travelling from the NE to the NW, being green in colour “Quite a bright green, like a burning trail” , having a duration of 3-4 seconds and leaving a train that persisted for about 3 seconds.

It is worth noting that although there were some claims that the fireball lasted for as long as 20 seconds, most witness reports quote a somewhat shorter duration.

Images and Video clips

Jim Rowe (East Barnet) of the NEMETODEnetwork reports having captured a video clip of the event low in his northern sky. This ties down the time of the event to 17:33:21 UT (with a duration of a few seconds).

Another NEMETODE member Ray Taylor (Skirlaugh, East Yorkshire) also captured a video clip of part of the fireball’s path through a cloud gap near the edge of his NE facing camera. The accompanying still image has been extracted by Ray.

Other NEMETODE members seem to have had overcast skies. The fireball was probably too far north to be imaged by most cameras in the UKMON network.

Several dashcam videos showing the fireball have also been posted on-line. Some of these can be viewed via the link given at the start of this report. These show a variety of timestamps, but this spread will be due to the dashcam clocks not being set accurately. The observers in the NEMETODE and UKMON networks in contrast take great care to ensure that their PC clocks are always accurate.

Unfortunately, as sadly often seems to be the case nowadays, some people did download old fireball images and then tried to pass them off on-line as their images of the current fireball.

Preliminary Analysis:

The IMO have published an initial report https://www.imo.net/last-bright-fireball-of-year-2017-over-the-uk/  which includes some of the dashcam videos.  This preliminary analysis indicates that the fireball started at an altitude of around 80km over the North Sea near Hartlepool and ended at an altitude of around 50km roughly midway between Carlisle and Penrith.  More detailed analyses should tie down the trajectory more precisely, especially if better images or videos become available.

Not submitted your report yet?

If you saw the fireball but haven’t submitted your report yet, please do so via this easy to use fireball report form http://spa.imo.net/

Twitter reports:

Not surprisingly, there were many mentions of this event on Twitter.  In general, these only give very limited information about the sky path of the fireball but do illustrate how ot was seen over a very large part of the UK. They also give an insight into how members of the general public react to seeing fireballs in the sky.

Here are some examples:

Just saw a large fireball heading north over uk (ne from Milton Keynes). Large green fireball

I’ve just seen a meteor go over our house, bright, shining, colourful and a lifetime first (and probably last)

Just seen a huge meteor to the south from Aberdeenshire heading west. Bright green and orange

#Meteor #asteroid #comet over the uk at 5.30. It looked awesome. #Nuneaton

Wow – very bright, green meteor/fireball streaking east to west over Ely, Cambs – pretty flat traj

Saw what looked like meteor from Thame,Oxon 17:30ish. About 20deg above north horizon, east to west”

“I’m sat fishing outside of Bedford and about 5.30 a fireball of some kind came across the sky from the south west, it was amazing”

“Did anyone else just see a fantastic fireball across the skies of northern England?  About 5:30pm. Brilliant icy blue thing, went all the way from east to west”

“Just seen a fireball streak across the sky and breakup into 3 pieces. This has to be an omen of better things to come in 2018 doesn’t it?”

Hope we’re not heading into Day of the Triffids territory ????