Fireball over Texas

By Phil Plait | February 15, 2009 11:15 am

[MAJOR UPDATE (16:06 MT): News 8 out of Austin has video of the fireball! I can now state unequivocally that this is not the result of the satellite collision. The meteor is moving far too quickly for that; satellite collision debris would fall at perhaps 10 km/sec max, while incoming meteoroids are moving at 11km/sec at a minimum, and this thing is screaming across the sky at several dozen km/sec (assuming it’s at a typical meteor height of 50 or more km). So I was probably right in the first place, and what we have here is almost certainly a single object, perhaps a meter or two across, and it came from deep space.]

I’m getting reports that an extremely bright fireball was seen in broad daylight over Texas (near San Antonio and Austin) around 11:00 a.m. local time (about an hour ago as I write this). [Update: some fireball reports came in from Kentucky on Friday, but it’s unclear if the KY event is connected, since it was a while back. It’s possible, so I remain agnostic for now.] If you saw anything or find links, please put them in the comments. The more reports we get on this, the more likely astronomers can figure out what this was.

Here’s part of an email I just received:

According to Google Earth, I was approximately at 29 deg 53’14.44″ N and 97 deg 57’32.00″ W when we saw the object. We were traveling NE, and the object was a little further NE of us, and was travelling in a NNE direction. It traveled out of sight quickly, and we were unable to figure out where it went from there.

Reports like that are fantastic; get your position as accurately as you can, say what direction the fireball was moving, and how high in the sky it was. Don’t worry about apparent distance; most fireballs look like they are close enough to touch, but can be dozens of kilometers away.

And just to be clear: it was almost certainly not It is possible this was part of the debris from the satellite collision last week. That should take months or years to work its way down to our atmosphere.

[Updated: There are some official agencies (like the FAA) saying this could be debris from the collision. I tentatively retract what I said earlier and say I might have been wrong. Still, this fireball may have been a random piece of rock, a very small asteroid a meter or two across. We’ll know more soon– as more reports come in, we can track the direction of the debris and test it against possible de-orbit tracks of any debris from the collision. Keep those comments coming!]

[More updates: A physics prof weighs in on this here. Either he or the reporter is a bit confused; Iridium flashes are bright glints from reflected sunlight off of intact Iridium satellites still in orbit around the Earth. If someone saw flashes of light as the fireball came in, it has nothing to do with that! A wrecked iridium wouldn’t make those flashes anymore (Updated update: a news site is repeating this confused description. Sigh.). Also, Waco news is reporting the event as well.]

[Update (12:30 Mountain time): Austin TV stations say they talked to an FAA official who says this might be from the satellite collision.]

[Update 13:04 MT: The Austin Statesman weighs in. Nothing really new, but some interesting info.]

[Update (13:16): Via Twitter, Matt Stiles posted a map image showing where he and a friend saw the fireball.]

[Update (16:30 MT): A lot of tweets were saying an FAA official had confirmed this was from the satellite collision. Now, the International Herald Tribune reports FAA spokesman Roland Herwig says they suspect it’s from the collision. I’ll note, though, that the FAA is not the agency that would know; I’d trust NORAD better. A fireball that bright would be from a big chunk, and they’d have tracked it. However, I really don’t think this was from the satellites; it was moving rapidly (deorbiting space junk tends to move far slower than incoming meteors) and in the wrong direction.]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Space

Comments (184)

Links to this Post

  1. Bert Brussen » Vuurbollen boven Texas, invasie begonnen | February 15, 2009
  2. Apparently, the sky really is falling « Off the Kuff | February 15, 2009
  3. IM Academic « Masks of Eris | February 15, 2009
  4. Game Developer and Skeptic » Blog Archive » Texas Meteor | February 15, 2009
  5. Texas fireball: what’s known so far | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | February 15, 2009
  6. Fire in the Sky? | The Squawker - a Best of Texas blog | February 15, 2009
  7. Fireball over Texas « awesomesness | February 16, 2009
  8. Whales In Space » Blog Archive » Texas Firball Update | February 16, 2009
  9. Fireball sited over Texas! | | February 16, 2009
  10. Satellites Collide in First Ever Major Mid-Space Collision [UPDATED] | It Came From the Web! | February 16, 2009
  11. Whales In Space » Blog Archive » Texas Fireball Debris | February 16, 2009
  12. Science Etcetera, Marsday 20090217 | | February 16, 2009
  13. American Street » Blog Archive » Tweeting @ The Gates | February 17, 2009
  14. American Street » Blog Archive » Tweeting @ The Gates | February 17, 2009
  15. Tweeting @ The Gates | E Pluribus Unum | February 17, 2009
  16. krisalis » Marathon Fireball | February 17, 2009
  17. Danish turnover meteorites | Bad Astronomy | Discover Magazine | March 15, 2009
  18. What did I see? - Bad Astronomy and Universe Today Forum | June 19, 2009
  19. Fireball Over Texas — It is Debris from the Crashed Satellites? | Disinformation | September 26, 2009
  20. SarahAskew » Space Debris over Texas (or not) | October 14, 2010
  21. Science blogs and science in newspapers « Science Life Blog « University of Chicago Medicine | May 22, 2012
  1. The “Twitterverse” is exploding with reports or rather reports about reports: Just search for “Texas” and let the tweets roll by …

  2. Andrew

    NOOOO! I live in SA!

    Curse my inclination to stay in bed this morning! GAAHHHG!

  3. “And just to be clear: it was almost certainly not part of the debris from the satellite collision last week”

    Not according to the FAA via NWS

  4. That puts them 20-ish miles SW of Austin. I’m sure one of these guys saw something. I’m trying to track down an atc recording right now. More if I get it…

  5. Snibble

    But…but…NOAA says it’s debris from the Kosmos/Iridium collision…surely the government wouldn’t lie about science?

  6. Timothy Clemans

    I first found out about this on Twitter via BreakingNewsOn. There’s a tweet about a NOAA warning for KY. “The NOAA public info statement about satellite debris is for Jackson, KY, which is 1,154 miles from the Texas #fireballs”

  7. NOAA had a post about debris and noise from 11:45pm friday night in Kentucky-

    Weird coincidence?

  8. Timothy Clemans


  9. David

    I saw the fireball at 11am this morning. I was just south of the Arboretum in Austin travelling NE on 360 at the north bull creek park. actual address is: 7854 Capital of TX Hwy, Austin, TX, United States, don’t know gps coords. The object was nearly due north travelling quickly on an east to west trajectory. It was maybe 30deg from the horizon and was coming down at something like 20deg angle.

  10. @matt_stiles

    I saw something about 11:15 a.m. while watching the Austin marathon. I’ve been Tweeting:

  11. Mike

    The down side to the miracle of electronic communications. Misinformation at the speed of light.

  12. But it’s Texas, home of George Bush and other Godfearing conservatives. How could God’s wrath strike there? Obviously, God was aiming for one of those immoral Democratic states and missed.

  13. Okay, now that everyone thinks its Satellite Debris- I tracked terms on Twitter for “Fireball” and “Shooting Star” Looks like over the last day or so “shooting stars” were spotted in New Hampshire, Buffalo, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Pennsylvania. there were two anomolies last night one in Portland and the other in Arizona. Interested in anyone else saw them?

  14. BrianVanicek

    My son and I saw the fireball at 10:58 a.m. this morning, February 15, while travelling NW on FM 485 on the Bell/Milam County line in Central Texas. The object streaked from the NE in a NNE trajectory as noted by the previous poster, flared and was gone. What appeared to be a short vapor trail became immediately visible. A puffy remant of the trail remained faintly visible ten minutes later when we arrived home mid-way between Seaton and Zabcikville on State Highway 53. Will be watching your blogsite for additional details and/or reports of this siting.

  15. I’m curious about your statement that it is almost certainly not debris from the satellite collision. I’m not a physicist, but I would have thought when the satellites collided, the debris would head in every direction, including directly towards earth at speeds at least somewhat in the range of the speed that the satellites were traveling.

    The AP report that I read said that the satellites were about 800 km above the earth when the collided and the debris was spread out of 500 to 1300 km above the earth. Your other post spoke as if the satellites were traveling around 8km per second.

    Thus, one would assume that the debris that headed towards earth have enough speed to reach the earth in just a few minutes, and even those that were headed say, half way between straight down, and the path the satellites were on would still be arriving at earth much more quickly than in a few months.

    Like I said, I don’t know the math of physics of this, so I’m wondering if you could help me understand this a little better.

  16. Nick

    I saw one around 11 am from central austin to the north

  17. @matt_stiles

    I was facing north at Lat: 30°18’59.71″N, Long: 97°43’44.61″W.

  18. Timothy Clemans
  19. I think this could be really powerful- what do people in Iceland/sweden/denmark/norway call shooting stars? do twitter searches on those terms and see if an aggregate group of ppl saw them at the same time in the same path. I posted a screenshot of the path so far that I have on twitpic.

    feel free to make your own- send me a link @threefourteen on twitter.

    Thanks to Discover Magazine’s Phil Plait for the blog post!


  20. cindy

    I saw the fireball perfectly outside of my living room window. Now there is a fire near where the fireball would have touched ground which may be between 5 and 20 miles north of us.

  21. Mike,

    There are both sides to that one. The down side is the misinformation, but the upside is that it is debunked as quickly so the confusion period is shorter (hopefully anyway).

  22. Naw, Jeebus is infallible. He was punishing Texas for tolerating liberals or sumptin’…
    I wish one of those fragments of Cosmos/Irridium would fall in my woods! That’d be cool! I could put it on display at McCormick!

    Yes, Mike, MsInformation -DOES- move at the speed of light, she’s that kewl! [grin]

  23. @matt_stiles

    Oh, I was moving east to west (at least from my perspective facing north).

  24. My wife and I spotted this event as we were driving south down a suburban street in north Dallas / Richardson TX (32.962136,-96.682777). It was approximately 10:58am CST and lasted under 5 seconds (way too fast for me to get a picture!) It was in the southern sky, slightly west, and falling east to west. It appeared as a streak, then brightened into a distinct orange fireball before vanishing. I am not an astronomer or aviator so I can’t reliably estimate the elevation above the horizon, but I hope this information helps some.

  25. Michelle

    Is it just me or there’s a whole lot of these lately?

  26. We know that this can’t imperil the planet, or it would have landed on Manhattan or taken the tip off of the Eiffel Tower. There are no dogs or children staring up at the fireball as it takes aim for the spot in which they’re standing.

    It’s exciting, but we’re safe. Michael Bay isn’t even on the scene.

  27. DeAnne

    I’m in North (eastern side) Texas. I was outside, about 10:30 am, looking to the southwest when I saw the giant fireball of spacey doom. From my perspective, it appeared to be streaking north and down, and it appeared that it flamed out before it disappeared behind the houses (about a mile from me) that blocked my view of the object.

    I didn’t hear a boom, nor have any sirens gone off around here, so I’m sure it didn’t land here, but it was an object that was brightly visible in the sunny sky. It was a big ol flame ball.

  28. If the debris is really from the satellites collision, we may be entering a whole new era of controlled space traffic. If we don’t act fast, there will be more collisions, and more fireballs!

    It really feels “futuristic”, even if it’s a bad situation.

    Hey, let me dream, ok?

  29. We were on our way to church this morning, (we live in south austin)
    and I saw the fire ball shooting down toward the earth and yelled at my husband to look.
    We both thought it was a plane crashing..I was like oh my goodness!! oh my goodness!!
    the tail of the fire ball looked bright silver, I kept commenting to my husband on how strange that was..
    we were both freaked out after we saw that.
    just wanted to weigh in!

  30. Bwah-ha! Puny ape men! The invasion has begun!

  31. “…and slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us”

  32. Doc-

    I blush!

    Hey- thanks for your hard work on getting to the bottom [or top?] of this event.

    Ms. Info

  33. Zurack,

    I haven’t done any research but this is my own fear that even though some pieces are really small they are traveling very fast! I am worried that these pieces will hit many other satellites causing communication disruption among other things. So much of what we do these days is dependent on those satellites!

  34. RZ

    My daughter and her friend saw the 11:00 AM fall. We are in Wylie, TX (NE of Dallas). It was in the SSW – SW. She said it was very bright with fire behind it. Started about 70deg and down to about 40deg(interpited from her story and pointing).

  35. John

    We’re following the story at KEYE TV in Austin. If anyone reading this saw the incident and has pictures or video please let us know.

  36. Mark

    Is it possible that we could be seeing the beginnings of a collision cascade in LEO? I remember this being discussed a few months ago on the SGU podcast.

  37. So far I have listened to almost 3 hours of recordings from 4 different ATC facilities and haven’t heard a controller or pilot mention of the event, whatever it was :(

  38. @matt_stiles

    I was actually facing northwest. Here’s the angle from Google Earth:

  39. Timothy from Boulder

    “I haven’t done any research but this is my own fear that even though some pieces are really small they are traveling very fast! I am worried that these pieces will hit many other satellites causing communication disruption among other things.”

    Any pieces that are traveling very fast are of much less concern than those that are close to the original speed. Pieces with much higher speed will either reach escape velocity, or will deorbit quickly (depending on direction) making them far less a future collision hazard than the pieces that migrate slowly through populated orbits. Any collision between debris and existing satellites will happen at speeds high enough to cause damage; the risk is in the accumulated probability of intersection for the lifetime of the debris.

  40. Don

    I am at 32deg 46’24.84N 96deg64’35.07W observed it falling south to southwest of my location.
    Just happen to be answering the front door.
    Brite white as would be burning magnesium with a redish core.
    No sound. Left a broken contrail that formed well after it had passed.
    The two gents I was talking to turned to look but it had already gone.
    They did also observe the contrail.

  41. Sili



    It’s the Rapture(tm) of St. George W. Bush. The Lord has assumpted him.

  42. I’m happy to be corrected , but if this incident took place at 1700GMT , then it is highly unlikely it was debris from the collision.

    Anyone got access to the TEXAS weather radar system for 1700 GMT ? I can only roll back as far as 1800 unfortunately.
    If the fireball was as extensive as reported , then it will have left a paint on the radar systems.

  43. Het einde der tijden is nabij! Redde wie zich redden kan!

  44. bigjohn756

    Did anyone check for actual Iridium flashes for the are for that time and place? After all, they do get very bright and can be seen in daylight.

  45. Barbara Holliday

    My husband and I saw the fireball at 10:58 a.m. It was not flashes of light but a round ball of fire the size of the moon. It was reds and yellow, all the colors of boiling rolling fire. Suddenly it went bright white and exploded. We saw large pieces of black debris fall toward Georgetown or north of there. You could see the cloud of smoke in the sky for a long time. We were traveling on FM 1431 3 miles from IH 35 where IH35 is between Round Rock and Georgetown.

  46. tamar

    I was driving in Dallas and saw this. It was very bright and seemed close. I was wondering what it could be.

  47. Lol, it looks like the Bad Astronomy Newsroom has been busy this morning :-) Nice work Phil at keeping up with the updates!

    Cheers, Ian :)

  48. Mary

    I saw it at 10:58 this morning at 33 deg 6’6.3″ N and 96 deg 40’59.7″W (about 3 suburbs north of Dallas). The fireball was south and slightly west in the sky and came down at maybe a little sharper than a 45 degree angle. As best I could tell, it suddenly appeared somewhere in the atmosphere as a big bright solid fire-colored fireball, and then I lost sight of it behind some trees, light posts, etc. I was sitting outside with about 4 other folks, but no one else saw it, and there was no smoke observable afterwards.

  49. 1: the two satellites were in POLAR orbits and they collided near the north pole (siberia) there is no way the debris could be travelling east west as in eyewitness accounts.
    2: satellites reenter slowly compared to meteors. Meteors cross the sky in a few seconds, satellites take minutes (remember Columbia)
    All the facts point to a bolide meteor


  50. Allen Thomson

    We were on our morning walk in NW San Antonio at the time, but the sky was completely overcast. I doubt you’ll get any sightings from San Antone. Drat.

  51. @bigjohn: None of the descriptions resemble iridium flares at all. They’re all about the big red/yellow/silver and burning out, many with smoky trails that dissipated in the atmophere.

  52. Allen Thomson

    Sporkley reported:

    > lasted under 5 seconds (way too fast for me to get a picture!)

    And way too fast to be reentry of orbital debris, most of which put on a fairly leisurely display. Quite typical of stuff entering from Out There at solar-system speeds, however.

  53. Lara

    News 8 Austin now has a video up:

    It looks like it was caught accidentally by someone filming this morning’s marathon.

  54. According to this report:

    NORAD had warned Calgary of a possible impact.

    A similar report is here:

    As I recall, NORAD was tracking 600+ pieces of debris from the satellite collision. Wouldn’t they have known if the fireballs were related to the satellites?

  55. (Amending my post) The Alberta near-miss wasn’t related to the satellite collision.

  56. Sytze Vliegen

    Now they are over the Netherlands (United States of Europe)

  57. And here it is … a cool video of the daylight fireball from an Austin TV station that was filming a street race.

    From the speed and look of the fireball I would declare it a meteor; reentering satellites tend to be slower and come in more pieces. Just my two cents, though.

    But if there are more videos/photos/really good eyewitness reports, an orbit can be calculated that would clear up all questions.

  58. Johnny

    Last night at around 1:30 am Atlantic time, something passed through the sky here in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I didn’t actually see this myself, but my girlfriend ran in on me as I was brushing my teeth to tell me about it. She was watching SNL in the living room when a glowing red object followed by a blue tail streaked through the sky past the window, bright enough to catch her attention in a lit room. She didn’t hear any sounds associated with the object, though, as I said, she was inside the house. The window faces the southwest, though I’m not sure what direction the object was travelling.

    I assumed that the object had something to do with the satellite debris, though it did seem a little soon. My girlfriend has something of a phobia of celestial events (many thanks Mr. Bruckheimer), so she doesn’t often look up at the sky, and this was the first object more pronounced that the usual “shooting star” that she’d ever seen. I’d ask her more about the exact direction and such, but I’d imagine that it would only freak her out. I’m just disappointed that I didn’t get to see it myself!

  59. Jim Oberg

    Listen to Dale Ireland and Allen Thomason, they are speaking sense…

    The odds are that the flare was both too late and too soon to be collision debris, and almost certainly too bright.

    Last Tuesday, right after the collision, there would have been some objects thrown downwards or backwards fast enough to enter the atmosphere within half an orbit. Those that didn’t, even those sent into lower orbits but not low enough to immediately burn up, would be in higher stabler orbits. A few might begin burning up as the days passed, and may in the future — but they’re likely the small pieces, centimeters in scale, that would be unlikely to create bright attraction-grabbing daylight meteors.

    So my first guess is right in line with Dale’s and Allen’s — a normal natural fireball that’s dodging responsibility due to over-interpretation by still-panciked newsmen.

    And you may quote me.

    www dot jamesoberg dot com

  60. Jim Oberg

    Kevin: “NORAD had warned Calgary of a possible impact.’

    Yes, of an entirely DIFFERENT satellite. Jeez, read the whole story.

  61. Jesso

    I saw it this morning as I was facing south at the corner of Lamar & Cooper in Arlington, Texas. It looked like it was dead ahead of me when it first appeared and it was very bright.

  62. We’ve heard from folks who saw it from the south and folks who saw it from the north. We’ve heard from folks who saw it at 10:58 and folks who saw it at 11:15.
    The north and south perspectives should help box in the actual trajectory. The 11:15 time seems like a mistaken outlier or possibly a different event.

  63. MadScientist

    I’ll believe the satellite story if the people flapping their mouths find the bit that crashed.

    Hey BA, how did you estimate the speed?

    I can’t even view the Austin news video – too much non-interoperable junk on the web these days.

  64. tacitus

    Darn it. I live in North Austin and would have normally been outside playing volleyball this morning, but I cried off with a side strain and was indoors when it happened. :-(

  65. Just waiting for a report from my friend Dr. Clayton Forrester about what has been found.

    [trivia test]



  66. Daniel

    Just heard someone spotted another over Quincy, MA a little while ago.

  67. John

    I saw a daylight fireball over Pittsburgh a few years ago, but this one looks like it was a whole lot more impressive.

  68. Mike

    I was travelling North on I-35 out of Austin this morning and saw the fireball. It was around 11:00 AM. It appeared on my right and travelled to my left as it desended.

  69. East Texas, Eastern Kentucky, Massachusetts…these all fall in a line. Anyone care to calculate the angle, roughly, between this line and the Equator? If it’s 23 degrees we may have a winner…

  70. Jacque

    I saw it in Dallas at 10:58 am. I was facing south. It appeared in the southwest and was going down fast. Very bright and shining, burning.

  71. PJo

    Hmm. It seems in the video as if the object was slamming into atmosphere at a pretty steep angle. If so, it wasn’t travelling that fast.

    Perhaps the collision of the satellites kicked some parts into elliptical orbits. They could then (maybe after some aerobraking earlier on orbit) literally drop from the sky.

    Well, I’m not an expert on orbital mechanics. Just a thought.. :-)

  72. Julian

    Saw it at 11:00 am driving north on I-45 about 2 miles south of Madisonville, TX. It was SW of my position and it was huge! Glad it wasn’t an hallucination

  73. I’m probably WAY behind the curve on this, but this seems related to the Calgary alert from NORAD just about a half hour prior to this scoop.

  74. Dan

    At around 8pm Eastern Time (give or take a few minutes), I saw a fast-moving orange object with a long tail streak across the sky from northern Maryland (N39 degrees 24 min, W 76 degrees 45 min). I was facing west, and the object was heading west. It disappeared after less than half of a second. It looked similar to the object in the video from Austin but didn’t stay visible for nearly as long, and was higher in the sky. I didn’t notice any smoke or debris on its tail, but it’s darker here so I might just not have noticed. I thought it was an especially close meteor at the time. I read about the fireball over Texas just a few minutes later after coming back inside.

  75. J.D.

    I was at our local airport (52F) traveling south on the taxi way at 11AM and saw it traveling from east to west due south of my location. It looked as if it was within a few hundred feet of me.

  76. Carl

    Pics or it didn’t happen.

  77. Michael

    I saw it in Northern Dallas (Southern Plano actually if you know the Dallas burbs). I have seen meteors before….and to be honest this looked like debris…it did not look like a meteor. It was glowing red like it was on fire, and had a trajectory similar to what you would see if something exploded in the sky…sort of an arc…not a straight line like many meteors have. I thought it looked closer then what it actually turned out to be…so I guess the eyes can fool you. As I said I have seen meteors before and this was definitely the oddest I have ever seen.



  79. Misty

    I was driving East on Hwy 67 from San Angelo, TX. I was about 10 miles west of Santa Anna, Tx at 11:56 a.m. today and saw what looked like a “meteor” going across the sky from south to north at an amazing speed. I thought if it doesn’t stop at the rate it is going, it is going to impact in about 2 more seconds. It burnt up and left a cloud-like streak that lasted about 30 minutes. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen. It looked like a orange fireball with a bright white tail.

  80. Misty

    I’m sorry, I meant 10:56 a.m…not 11:56!!!

  81. Jim

    I live in rural Milam county midway between Bryan and Waco. My wife and I were working in the garden this morning. I heard a swishing sound that caused me to look to the sky, I saw a fire ball with a tail, moving from east to west at about a 30 degree angle towards the earth. I told my wife to look, she saw it as well, it lasted about 3 seconds and appeared to burn out before it went out of sight. After we logged the time as 10:58 a.m. we looked back to the sky and observed a smoke trail where the object had passed.

  82. Julian

    Sould have typed NW of Madisonville TX.

  83. Colin

    Could this mean the arrival of more zombies?

  84. emarkay

    Jim Oberg – Now here’s a person who knows his Space info!

    I notifed the NWS this morning based on Satobs and other sources that the KY event could NOT have been collision debris – Prob the M-66 booster re-entry.

    This thing as videoed, is certainly NOT a satellite reentry! The observed intensity and speed for one make this unlikely, but the angle of entry confirms that this could NOT have been an orbiting item! Orbital mechanics would require a GIGANTIC force to dislodge something this visible out of an earth orbit, and there’s no “Starship Enterprise” out there with a “Photon Torpedo” to do that!

    It’s a bolide – a meteor, and they will eventually find a few chunks of it.

    emarkay at email dot com

  85. Ivan Durakov

    Did the falling fragments kill any Christians, and were you glad?

  86. Ivan, what you are you trying to say here? Just to be clear.

  87. Actually, I’ll be more clear, Ivan: are you saying that you think I’d be happy if fragments from an impact actually killed human beings? And are you implying that I would be giddy with glee if Christians were killed?

    You somehow interpret my blog posts to mean that I’d be happy if Christians were killed? And if you’re exaggerating for effect, then does that still mean you think I hate Christians for some reason?

    Let’s be up front here, instead of coy like you’re trying to be. Out with it.

  88. Saw it this morning, was sitting at the intersection of Olympia Dr. & Windsor facing roughly south in Denton, TX (for those that google map), it seemed to be directly centered in front of me, the streak appeared and disappeared in about the center 1/3 of the sky visible through my windshield.
    Seemed to be a little bigger than a vapor trail of a commercial airliner, at least from my vantage point of 20 miles or so north of D/FW airport…

  89. yamil

    Hey Guys!
    Greetings from Guatemala, well i just want you to know people from the states that we saw a fireball , with the same PHYSICAl characteristics, although it seems like people here are very non-interested about the subject, we saw it at 6 pm , january 15.
    And after we saw a an star but it was an UFO, because it moved slowly ant it took from one till wo hours to dissapear..

  90. scott

    i live in Cincinnati, and did not see this today, but back in September 2008, I saw a fireball in the northern sky that looked EXACTLY like the one in the video from Austin , TX…i called police and the local news…they received NO other calls than mine…..but I did see it, and i believe it to have been a meteor….

  91. lucifer

    Mind that we had solar flares and a rapid increase on solar wind velocity. We got hit from the sun. More to come suckers

  92. Rob Matson

    Summarizing (Hi Jim O., Alan & Dale!) for those following along, satellite debris of any flavor was completely ruled out by both the velocity and entry angle as seen in the video taken in Austin. This was your garden variety bolide, though bright enough that there is a decent possibility of meteorites on the ground somewhere between Dallas and Austin. If I had to guess based on all the witness reports I’ve read, I would favor slightly west of the N-S line passing through Waco rather than slightly east; an observation from near Waco would be very helpful in triangulating the impact zone. –Rob

  93. Phil, having seen the video footage I totally agree with you that this was certainly not debris of the Iridium-Kosmos collision, for the very same reasons you mention. Too fast, too short duration. (the speed of decaying satellite material is 7.5-8 km/s). So the FAA definitely is wrong here.

  94. Jim Oberg

    Jim: “I heard a swishing sound that caused me to look to the sky”

    This is a cool and very important report, thanks! Sounds like the long-reported but until recently universally-dismissed ‘electrophonic sound’ phenomenon characteristic of a large bolide (and of space shuttle entries). Clin Keay not long ago established a likely connection with radio noise generated in the plasma trail inducing sonic reaction in materials near witnesses, in real time (not at the speed of sound).

  95. Mary Lou

    I have afriend in England who saw same type of fireballs last thursday!

  96. Mike

    We saw it (without any doubt) at around 11:00 while driving north on Highway 6 in Hearne Texas. Hearne is about 25 miles north of College Station which is the home of Texas A&M University.

  97. Im from Belgium, didn’t see a bit. But I’m highly interested and following this subject.

  98. Mike

    By the way…

    I can confirm that what Jim posted above is exactly what we saw in Hearne.

  99. SCOTT


  100. Tomas

    This now made it to the top 10 on the as of 12:55 UT

  101. @Jason: Stjerneskudd, stjärnskott, and such. (Yes it means star-shot.)

  102. Johnny D.

    Satellite debris re-entry would not get anywhere close to the speed necessary to produce sonic booms. Texas residents CLEARLY heard sonic booms accompanying their early morning fireball. My guess is that whatever it was, the authorities know, but aren’t ready to tell us, so they’re using the conveniently timed satellite collision as a cover story.

  103. Maisis

    I was driving north on the toll road 183A in Austin, TX. My wife was sitting next to me when she suddenly screamed, “Oh! My god, look!” I almost ran off the road looking up to see what looked like a large fireball streaking through the sky. It came in at at an odd downward angle over the sky to northeast of our position. As I have learned the sight was extremely deceptive. There was a brief flash before it went out. We called 911 immediately in case what we saw might have been an aircraft that caught fire and exploded in mid air. I heard later that several people thought similarly. Local and county police had search helicopters out scouring the northeast of Williamson County looking for any potential wreckage from a downed aircraft. I have never seen anything that bright in the daytime sky in my entire life. It was amazing and even a bit startling.

  104. DCH

    Two Satellites collide and then crash to earth. Of course… this is how it starts. Then there’s the running and the screaming…

    …brush up your anti-zombie skills.

  105. Paul Herman

    I saw it as well. I was driving south on Custer Road in Plano, TX, about a quarter mile north of Hedgecoxe. I glanced at the clock in the car, it said 11:00AM. It came in in front of me, to the SSW, at an angle flatter than 45 degrees, from the east, and as far as I remember, it started out as a small light for a second, then blew out to a huge ball of fire. As in spherical, maybe a dime at arms-length size. All flames (orange and yellow moving around colors). The big ball effect lasted maybe a full second, maybe a second and a half, then it went back down to nothing and was gone, before it went below the horizon. I could see rippling in the flames, color variation and movement, so I thought it was close. Then I heard they filmed it in Austin. Maybe it came down around Waco.

  106. sarah

    I am from Ashford Kent in uk and at 22.20 last night (15th February) I also saw a huge fire ball

  107. Paul Herman

    Oh, other details. Didn’t hear anything, and it was pretty low to the horizon, though I was able to see the entire visual portion plainly. But I was looking out my windshield, so if it hadn’t been down a ways I would not have seen it at all. During the flaming second or two, it covered maybe 15-30 degrees of sky. Very plainly moving pretty fast.

  108. Lisa

    Sunday, Feb 15th, 11 AM, I was traveling north on I-45, I was 20 miles south of Centerville, TX at it was almost exactly 11AM. I saw a flash very high in the sky, it left a smoke trail and then in front of me above the tree line I saw a shiny, shiny bright object that to me was the shape of the wing of an airplane and at the larger end, I saw a blindingly bright light, almost like a sparkler looks when lit, like white and silver sparkles…..then just as quick, it was gone. It was LARGE, very large. I thought it was an airplane crashing because of the shape but I never saw any smoke come up from the ground. We were able to watch the smoke trail it left in the sky for about 10 minutes before it dissipated.

  109. laura mack

    I saw a fireball comet, that’s what it looked like, in the fall of 07 in Madison Ms. It was very light , then very bright, then burned out & faded away. It was huge in the night sky. About 1/2 the size of a full moon. It took about 45 mins from when I saw it , to when it faded away. I called the local news while it was happening & asked if they knew what it was. They knew nothing about it, & I called for days but nobody else saw it. THIS HAS HAPPENED BEFORE. What I saw must have been some burning fuel.

  110. Sabrina

    I saw fireballs when I lived in Texas also during the 90’s and one looked as big as a basketball with a long firey tail. Lasted seconds but it was really cool.

  111. Mason Fairbanks

    They are comming.I know some are already here.1100100110001100000111110100111001110

  112. Renee

    I live on the shore of the Chesapeake in Maryland. I saw the same thing about 8 o’clock pm est. It was a large fireball that lite up the sky and only lasted about a second then it was gone as it fell toward the ground. It seemed to light up as it got closer to the ground then it was gone, because I have a large window where I was sitting and it appeared half way down the window opening(if that makes sense). It seemed VERY close to my house and I would think that it fell in the water here. It was bigger then ANY shooting star I have ever seen.

  113. Ben B

    I saw an object fall from the sky Friday night around 10pm in Athens Ohio.
    It was biggest meteor, star, or object I have seen fall from the sky.
    It was very bright green and amazing to see. A coworker also saw it as I pointed it out as I am sure more people had to of seen it.
    I think it was in a SW direction that I saw it fall from Athens.

  114. Davis Bradley

    Hi, We were a bit bored today and we have the equipment in our lab at work, so we analyzed the video and came up with the following:

    1. The composition is mixed metallic based on spectral analysis of the video we snagged and converted to avi from the tv station in Austin: iron (steel), chromium, magnesium, and titanium. All 4 spectral signatures are clearly visible as “spikes” in the analysis. There are other spikes as well for various rare earth metals. You can somewhat see this yourself as the color hue changes as the object breaks up in the atmosphere. We simply put the colours through spectral analysis and compared the spikes to known metals.

    We adjusted the white balance based on objects in the foreground and came up with a base level to determine composition.

    2. the object is very irregularly shaped or of mixed composition. That is, it is either spinning as it falls or it is disintegrating. This is evident in the combustion bursts as the object falls.

    3. The overall density is high given the short tail combustion. Lower density objects would produce a longer combustion trail.

    4. The object entered the atmosphere at a high at low velocity. This is based on known density, shape, trajectory, and burn rate.

    The object is almost certainly man-made and medium sized. Based on density, trajectory, and rotational analysis, the object is approximately 5-10 meters long and cylindrical or oblong in shape. It’s composition, based on spectral analysis, is consistent with current technology.

    We’re 99% sure it’s an artificial object of some type – probably a satellite or small high altitude aircraft.

    If we had to guess we think it could be a high altitude reconnaissance vehicle that experienced an in-flight incident and got too close to the more dense layers of the atmosphere at the wrong angle.



  115. I am a former Marine from the 80-92 era. One of my jobs was to be the NBC
    ( nuclear biological chemical ) rep for my battalion. Do you think that for one moment the reactor on board the soviet satt. that was destroyed in the collision would not survive re-entry to Earth? The reactor would be heavily shielded and armored to the extreme to protect it from impact by
    space particles and small meteorites travelling at 10’s of thousand miles an hour (remember apollo 13?). it would be like dropping a M1-abrams main battle tank with double armor. the military, of course, would not want people running around looking for military grade radioactive waste of even plutonium. of course the military is going to deny that it was the satt.

  116. Herb Veness

    I saw this thing burn out over Killeen Texas just after lunch sometime. I was on ft hood road going north and it shot right over me going the same direction. It was a fast moving, very bright ball of flames with a tail of flames, it gave one short burst of more flames (that burst occured in the center of the whole thing), then on final burst of much brighter flames (right at the head of the ball of flames) when it burned out over the intersection of highway 190 and Jasper road. When it burned out it left a small cloud in the sky for at least an hour. I was sure I was going to see it in the newspaper the next day, but apparently I was the only one who saw that thing. I’m thinking meteor. Kinda scary to know there won’t be any meteor warnings if one hits hard.

  117. chris

    the aliens are comming!!!!!

  118. alonso

    whats up.. i just saw the notice on tv. then i decide to search in the web ..
    im from mexico cya

  119. M.C. Mold

    I didnt see anthing but saw stuff on news.

  120. Marty Lewis

    Location, Cedar Park TX. We were traveling Northeast on Cypress Creek Blvd nearing the intersection with Lakeline Blvd, at latitude 30.4809, longitude -97.8325. I didn’t look at my watch but I know it was between 10:55 – 11:00. Everyone in our car saw the bright streak across the sky from right to left in the NW direction. It happened very fast, just a few seconds… At first I thought someone shot a firework, but there was no noise.

  121. Rick Schlauch

    It isn’t the satellites. Just saw that on NBC Nightly News at 717pm EST. But you know, if it were Alien, they wont tell us anyway. I think Big Danny Burns took a huge dump in Maryland, and the toilet could not hold the moosepoop, and it somehow exploded into a short Earth orbit, and landed in Texas. More fertilizer for the The Famous JJ Ribs!!!

  122. MA Johnson

    Two things. Does anyone share my concern that space is being littered with satellites and other foreign materials humans introduce there? My guess is that we may be experiencing some peculiar phenonoma here in the future. We’re messing with nature and what sustains life. What I think is that this is a natural reaction from deep within the theos of space. Could have been debris but probably rather a meteor though seems uncommon to meteors we are familiar. I’ll call this a space snowball on fire. Man is interfering with life and in my opinion needs evaluate what is being done. Nothing is going to get in the way of what sustains life call it God what is beyond explination beyond comprehension or logic. Either way whatever it was meteor or satellite debris, think we would be wise to wake up. ~Peace~

  123. Cameron

    I was in the Smokey Mountains of TN on Friday night and my cousin’s husband and I both saw what looked like a ball of fire fall from the sky. My wife and my cousin were in the back seat and they did not believe that we had seen anything but after I saw the video that was shot in Texas I am 100% certain that what we saw was related to whatever was on that video. This was not an isolated incident. I have also heard of sightings in Kentucky. I’m no expert but I would feel pretty safe in assuming that the rate of speed at which something falls from space would depend on the size and weight of that object. Just a thought.

  124. adriana

    i saw a flash of light on friday during sunset in austin texas. it was slightly left of the sunset was a quick bright flash, not sure if its related, but was weird either way. hmm.

  125. This not a meteor – too slow and furthermore meteors do not change vectors prior to impact. Check the video again where one can see clearly the shift.

  126. Dann

    I saw a fireball streak across the sky 20:14(local time) 13/02/2009 just outside of Capetown, South Africa. It was in the west when I first saw it and it continued on untill I lost sight in a west-south-west part of the sky at maybe 45degrees. The movement was definately slower than a meteor but still going fast in a southernly direction. It left a clear straight line of white thick smoke in its trail after it burned across the sky with a almost white fire.

    Hope it helps

  127. J.L.Lee

    It was the Republican party going down in flames.

  128. Lama Fozzy

    I didn’t have time to read the whole thread, but did anyone consider that it really was a meteor and that it impacted both satelites on its way in, making it appear that the satelites collided with each other because they were in close proximity? It could have passed through the part of the sky that the two satelites were traversing, took them both out in short order (making it look like they collided because they would have been knocked out at the same time respective to each other and leaving a cloud of space junk) then continued in to appear to have originated from that location when it really was just passing through it. Talk about your run-on sentences!

  129. John

    we saw the texas event just before 11 AM sunday, at 32.885254, -96.838463, to the SSE, moving roughly from a bearing of about 195, elevation 30 degrees, to about a bearing of 200-205, elevation 25 degrees or so, before becoming obscured by the tree line.

  130. Tyler

    Saw something similar a few nights ago at the Northeast Alabama/Georgia line facing east. It made a flash that lit up half the sky. Didn’t think much of it other than, “Holy crap that was a huge meteor”

  131. Buzz Cooper

    Statement from NOAA FRI FEB 13 2009, 2 days BEFORE the fireball.

    NOUS43 KJKL 140445

    1145 PM EST FRI FEB 13 2009


    IRIDIUM 33.



  132. noel

    Wouldn’t larger debris chunks continue to follow the satellites’ orbital paths, more or less, for a while? I’m wondering why those paths haven’t been mentioned in the speculation. Do they go near Austin? Does the direction of travel of the meteor match the direction the satellite debris would be going?

  133. Loam

    I saw it from Quakes at Duval and 43rd, Austin. Very spectacular. I thought it had to be fake, it was so huge.

  134. Stephen

    I saw this thing Sunday morning – right around 11AM from NW Austin, Neenah Drive just north of Parmer/620 intersection. It was huge, white (burning magnesium color) and entered at a 30/45 degree angle. Whatever it was was still significant and hot enough to leave a steam contrail of at least 2/3s the distance of the visual burning distance – where there’s steam, there’s substance.
    I saw a report of a grass fire somewhere east of West, TX (yes, there is a small town called West on IH35 – North of Waco). This would be consistent with my purview of the incident.

  135. santanu

    At the risk of being ridiculed and being labelled a freak, I shall like to draw everyone’s attention to the following recent events….If you watch the videos then turn on the sound for the commentary…

    Fireball across Ausin, Texas last night (16th Feb 2009). According to BBC, apparently, its NOT debris from a recent satellite collision…:……

    Same in Idaho in recent times. NO meteor remains found yet:…

    Exactly same in Sweden on 15th Feb 2009:…

    CHECK out this one on 24th Januray, 2009 in Argentina close to Buenos Aires:
    You tube:…

    This happened in Somerset, UK: Follows the unique footage as it is taken to the world renowned, “Lucas Films Special Effects division,” Industrial Light Magic,(ILM). An analysis done by Bill George, the visual effects supervisor at ILM states that (after analysis) it depicts a real-world event and is undoubtedly authentic footage. Judge for yourself……

    This was recorded also in Somerset, UK last week (12th Feb 2009):…

    This was filmed in Switzerland in 1996. Turn on the sound to hear the dogs barking like crazy….they sensed something:

    Belgian Air Force Chasing a UFO: UFO in Belgium Chased by Air Force-F16s:….

    On Italian TV in Italian:…

    Press Coverage:…

    AND Lastly, and more importantly, from Buzz Aldrin on Apollo 11 :…

    Heh?! Don’t know how authentic these news are… don’t even know if these are UFO’s or meteors or ball lightning or something else. But, if meteors, then they are obviously impacting with earth, in which case, where are the meteorites ? Well, I see no reason why life cannot exist in other planets and why they could not be sneaking around here :-) .
    I am waiting for a job on an Alien spaceship myself. :-)

  136. Kevin Mote

    Here is a pic of an apparent contrail seen over Coppell, Texas (NW of Dallas) at approximately 2 pm Sunday. I was struck by how weird this “cloud” was and tried to think of what could have made it. I was so taken with this cloud with a perfectly straight edge that I pulled over and took half a dozen pictures of it. Of particular interest to me was the single point at which it changes direction. Cloud? Contrail?—Either way, I couldn’t understand why it looked like it did. By the way, it stretched from horizon to horizon (as much of it as I could see). I didn’t hear about a fireball until the next day. Don’t know if this cloud / contrail is related to the fireball or not.

  137. Michael

    I live in Madisonville Texas, and heard a noise looked up and saw a fireball heading what seemed to be east to west (or as close to that), I was looking North towards the object and the sun was behind me to the south, I saw what looked like a flame which then turned red. Just as it dissapeared out of sight I could swear the sun reflected of it as if it was a metal object. My Two boys saw it as well and one thought it was a flare. It was fast,very fast. the thing that suprises me is that I actually heard it whoosh through the air, thats what made me look around

  138. By the way…

    I can confirm that what Jim posted above is exactly what we saw in Hearne..

  139. Sammy

    It is a UFO it has to be a UFO Nothing but a Meteor or UFO Could do that Come on United States Government tell us the Truth you know something we dont

  140. I saw it from Quakes at Duval and 43rd, Austin. Very spectacular. I thought it had to be fake, it was so huge..

  141. Raymond

    Correct me if I’m wrong,by watching the video did this object change direction, or tried to pull up, not sure. respond

  142. Jen

    I was curious about whether folks in Texas had heard about this occurrence in Siberia on the same day [6pm Siberian time]:

  143. Jen

    Raymond, yes, I noticed a sort of “floating leaf” curve in the middle of that trajectory too.

  144. Jen

    Just fyi, 6pm in Chita, Siberia translates to 8 am in Austin, Tx [yes, I’m a nerd].

  145. @ Kevin:

    Your picture is an aircraft contrail, probably at about 35-38 thousand feet, which is expanding into a cirrostratus cloud. The sharp edge on the right is caused by the contrail coming into contact with a front of air (probably a cold front) moving in from that direction. The front compresses the edge of the cloud, making it much more defined than the trailing edge, which is slowly expanding to the left.

    The sharp bend is a combination of two things: the aircraft made a slight course change at that point, and the front itself is analogous to a large bubble, with a curved front surface.

    As to the contrail stretching from horizon to horizon, that’s simply the laws of perspective coming into play. The aircraft was flying overhead, appearing first over one horizon and then disappearing over the next.

    Nothing woo about it, just aircraft and weather. Pretty cool photo, though.

  146. @ Raymond:

    No, the object did not pull up. The camera bouncing around and the object moving against the foreground makes it tough to judge its motion just by “eyeballing” it. If you were to plot the course of the meteor against a series of still frames from the video, you’d find it’s moving in a nice linear fashion (well, actually, a slight arc) just the way you’d expect a falling object to move when being pulled down by gravity.

  147. By the way…

    I can confirm that what Jim posted above is exactly what we saw in Hearne..

  148. I would like to know exactly what it was and where did it landed. CNN said it was the size of a truck, and with something that size falling from the sky there sould have been some damage. I feel the volosity alone should have made a whole in the earth big enough for the new to follow up on.

  149. Esther

    I just saw one this morning going in to work! At first I thought it was a falling star but is was alot closer than usual and it had a red amber tail then was hidden by buildings !

  150. Jamie

    My mom and I saw the ‘fireball’ this morning when we were on our way into work! We’re in McKinney, Texas!!

  151. Debra

    I saw a “fireball” this evening, April 28, 2009, at about 8:00 p.m. going west to east. I was driving north on I10 in El Paso, Texas.

  152. brett

    Me and my family saw these fireballs but not in texas but in cochrane alberta. Just outside calgary. It was doing circles in the sky. We thought it was a airplane or something but it did these sharp turns and weird movements. We drove a little more and then are sight was blocked and then when we looked back we saw two doing these weird movements and staying in the same general area,

  153. Michelle & Tracy

    We sat on a big hill at a small lake resort in Wakaw, SK, Canada, and saw a “fireball” floating across the sky in no particular direction. It zig zagged through the patch of sky above us, then appeared to be moving towards us, then changed direction and dissappeared back up into the sky. We watched it for about 20 min. It was close enough to make out the shape to be that of a truck sized ball of fire that didn’t make a sound. That’s as scientific as I get on this subject…sorry no co-ordinates.

  154. Gabriel Meltz

    On sunday the 13th dec 09 my friends and i were on the balcony in balito, South Africa when we saw a ‘ball’ of fire move up from the ocean up into the sky, it moved slowish and we were able to watch it for about 5min, there was no sound and we were about what felt like 800m away from it …?

  155. Livi

    My mom just told me about a fireball she saw on her way to work last year (2009.) It was a Wednesday morning, before 9am. She was on Hillcrest and Forest Lane in Dallas (32.90974,-96.786364). She said a huge fireball (about the size of a truck) came down from the sky and passed right by her car. There were no other cars around her and she said she just hit the gas pedal to get out of there and once she was through the intersection, she saw 2 cars stopped on the side of the road.

  156. mike

    Interestingly I googled ‘meteor spotted in Dallas skies’ and found this site; this evening (June 5, 2010) at approximately 11:00PM my wife and I saw a huge fireball, presumably a meteor, traveling at a high rate of speed heading NNW to SSE just west of our home in North Dallas, very close to the Plano, TX area. It was bright white and quite large and earily quiet as it screamed across the night sky. We were wondering if anyone else spotted this object.

  157. I live in Cincinnati, Ohio and around 10:00-10:15(daylight savings time) -I was taking a walk with my daughter. We both saw a bright fireball traveling across the sky going east -then it took a north turn and just vanished! what was this? The speed of the fireball seemed very paced and controlled.


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