Texas fireball: what's known so far

By Phil Plait | February 15, 2009 5:10 pm

So my blog post from earlier about the Texas fireball is now a bit of a mess from all the updates, so I thought I’d post a cleaner version of what’s going on now.

1) A tremendous fireball — also called a bolide, or a very bright meteor — was seen in southern Texas on Sunday, February 15th, just before 11:00 a.m. local time. Many people have described it as very bright, small, and moving rapidly.

2) A video of the fireball has been released, taken by a person videotaping a footrace. The video matches the description of many eyewitnesses.

3) Some people have attributed this event to debris from the two satellites that collided over the Earth last week. I was initially very skeptical of this, then relented a bit. Now I am sure it was not debris from the satellites. Why? OK, that deserves it’s own number.

4) The video shows the fireball to be moving very rapidly. Typically, meteors come into Earth’s atmosphere at 20-50 km/sec (though they can be moving much faster), and burn up 50-100 km high. Man-made space debris re-entering is moving at slower than orbital speed so the max speed is about 8 km/sec. It also burns up lower, and generally you can see flames and whatnot coming off.

I’ve seen man-made debris re-enter, and it’s very different than natural meteors. The difference in speed is very obvious. Right there, that’s enough to make me think this was a single natural object.

It’s possible to get collisional debris moving more rapidly, but it’s difficult. The two satellites closed in on each other at about 10 km/sec, and any shrapnel from that event would most likely be moving at roughly that same speed. If one satellite slammed into, say, an antenna first, then the lower mass antenna might get a pretty hefty acceleration from it, but the amount of energy dumped into it would most likely turn it into a bunch of teeny pieces (remember, the energy of impact was like several tons of TNT). A small object would not have been as bright as the fireball seen.

Also, you’d have to have a pretty special set of circumstances to get any debris from the satellites to re-enter our atmosphere so soon after the collision. It’s far more likely that it will be months before we see any of that shrapnel burning up.

So all in all, I am pretty sure what was seen was natural: a rock or a piece of metal from an asteroid.

5) A fireball was reported in Kentucky Friday night. It’s unlikely these two events were related; if the Texas bolide were from a natural object, then it was a totally different object that entered over Kentucky. At a speed of, say, 20 km/sec, the two objects would have been separated by more than 100,000 km, making a connection pretty far-fetched. And if they were from the satellite collision, again being separated by a day makes it unlikely they were connected.

6) This was certainly unrelated to a NORAD warning of a Russian booster re-entering, which later was determined to have fallen near Africa.

7) There were reports that an FAA official had confirmed this object was from the satellite collision. But those reports never gave a name! When a report came in naming Roland Herwig, he was quoted as saying it was possibly from the collision. Still the false confirmation spread like wildfire via Twitter, when a popular breaking news account stated it as fact (no provenance was ever given for that quotation). Rumors spread rapidly, truth far more slowly.

Also, why the FAA? They are not the go-to agency for this. NORAD would make far more sense, since they specifically track such things. And there was no warning at all from them, indicating once again this was not from the satellite collision. Any piece big enough to be bright enough to be seen in broad daylight is big enough for them to have been tracking for some time.

Conclusions:

This was a fascinating event, both astronomically and socially. I received an email less than an hour after the event from a reader (who, wonderfully, gave both his exact location and the direction to the fireball) as well as a tweet about it. Within a few minutes I had a post up and tweeted about it myself. I started to receive dozens of tweets over the next hour (I’m not sure how many total, but probably well over 100) with information. After an hour or so the misinformation (FAA officials, satellite debris, etc.) started coming in. Someone posted on iReport their own description, and added a photo of a totally different event as an example, and at least ten tweets referred to it as the actual Texas fireball.

Using various websites that track keywords on Twitter helped enormously. I could look for "Texas" and "fireball" and "satellite". That was tremendously helpful.

As info came in I updated the blog post, but that was awkward. Tweeting info is fine, but a more permanent and easily-accessible repository was needed. Now, after the fact, I can collate that info and make a more linear post. If someone has a better way to collect, disseminate, and store breaking astronomical news, I’m all ears. Between the blog and Twitter I think this went pretty well, with a minimum of bad information being spread.

As time goes on I’m sure more video and pictures will surface. I’ll post links to those as I find them. My personal thanks to everyone who saw this event and tweeted, or left comments. This was very exciting!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Science

Comments (94)

  1. QUASAR

    One very interesting meteor impact is the one that landed on some guy’s car, don’t remember in which year that was but it completely screwed up the back end of the car!

  2. QUASAR, are you refering to the St. Louis Meteorite which fell on December 10, 1950? Or perhaps the Peekskill that fell October 9, 1992? The one from 1950 hit the roof from my recollection, and it apparently didn’t do a ton of damage. The 1992 one did make a bit of a mess of the car though.

    Great rundown Dr. Plait. Thanks. Still haven’t heard back from my In-Laws in Texas to see if they saw anything.

  3. QUASAR, you’re thinking of the Peekskill meteorite in the late 80s. Hit the car of a young woman (Michelle Knapp) and punched in the rear right quarterpanel.

  4. Video seems to be down both here and CNN.

  5. Ignore my above comment. CNN says the video is expired, but my noscript was blocking the above. fixed now.

  6. Wow, that’s amazing. Getting the video of the debris falling AND the footage of the runners in the foreground really brings a dose of reality to it. I know it’s real in the first place, but most of the time we see shots without anything in the foreground to judge by.

  7. Brian

    was seen in southern Texas on Saturday, February 15th Well, what year was that? I thought it was the 14th on Saturday? :)

  8. Rather interesting. Quite a number of fireballs have come screaming (or at least hissing violently) into our atmosphere of the past three or four months. That seems rather unusual. I wonder if they have any relation to each other (unlikely), or if it is all just coincidental (more likely, but less exciting).

    Uh oh. I just had a thought.

    I wonder how long it is going to be before those stupid Nibiru nuts start claiming that this unusual spate of fireballs is proof of the doom planet heading towards us.

  9. steve randall

    Is it possible that swirrling lights in the sky could have been observed from central North Carolina around 8:00PM Wednesday evening as a result of this collision?

  10. I think Wikinews did a decent job of collating the information that was available at the time, although there was the usual journalism problem of “scientists say this, but 1500 news articles refer to a spokesman who said this…”

  11. Peekskill meteorite in the late 80s

    EXCEEDINGLY late 80’s Dr. Plait. Just checked again, and accrding to the site that has the car travelling around the world, it was October 9, 1992. The CAR was a 1980 Malibu. It was a 12.4 kg meteorite, classified as an H6 chondrite

  12. Davidlpf

    Should it be Sunday 15 feb.

  13. The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

  14. Long

    That’s interesting. Today (Sunday) at around 11:00 am Texas time, I saw another object go across the sky and burn up. It went from probably 2oclock to 9 oclock (right to left) and burn up pretty spectacularly.

  15. kcocgib

    Twitter is almost as irritating as people who use it.

  16. Sean F.

    Hi Phil. While searching for an explanation of the phenomenon that I witnessed Saturday night (Sunday morn, actually), I came upon your blog. Let me explain:

    12:40AM, 2/15/09 While driving home from Valentine’s Day dinner, my girlfriend and I spotted a large fireball in the northeast sky while we were driving in Dedham MA. Here is our approx. coordinates: 42°13’44.05″N, 71° 9’41.92″W (Long way from Texas, no doubt.) The fireball was traveling NE in the NE sky, and had a tint of green. It was in our sights for about 6-7 seconds, and then it disappeared. I am unsure as to the reason of the disappearance, whether something blocked my view or the fireball simply burned out. I had never seen anything like this before, and presumed “it” t0 be some large meteor, but now I wonder if it was a piece of space debris. Is the greenish flame significant?

    Feel free to contact me with any questions.

  17. So, Dr. Death From the Skies, what exactly might happen if the solar system were to enter a particularly chunky part of space and a bunch of extra-solar rocks started slamming into the atmosphere with greater frequency? Is there a greater likelihood of big dino-blaster sized object hitting us? Do astronomers have any WAGs about how many chunky-sized objects might be drifting about solo in between the stars?

    Enquiring fear-mongers want to know….

  18. Kyle

    I agree kuhnigget. If there is going to be an increase in rocks raining down I need to upgrade my tinfoil hat to a titanium/carbon fiber model, just to be safe. That is going to be expensive don’t ya know.

  19. Mena

    One of the sociological things that I’m finding interesting is that when someone dropped a tool belt, everyone saw it in the next couple days. A couple of satellites when kaboom, now everyone is seeing debris from that. Out of the tons of junk that is up there, it seems to always be something that has been in the news lately. Do people just need some sort of follow up? Does the public not realize that it’s very cluttered up there and that it doesn’t have to be something that they know the name of? You would think that with every movie and documentary on tv for the last decade or so telling us that we are all going to die from a meteorite impact at any second that nature would be the first thought, but it isn’t.

  20. Logan Greenlee

    This article: http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0902/15debris/ would tend to indicate that it is satellite debris.

    The FAA issued a NOTAM, yesterday – to be on the look out for this specific event. Their information would probably come from some other government agency. The fact that they won’t or can’t confirm what the source of the fireball is is not surprising – this is type of specific information is usually classfied.

  21. JKF

    @Boingo ~ check it out

    Fireball Sightings Log 2009:
    http://www.amsmeteors.org/fireball/fireball_log2009.html#loglist

    AMS Fireball Reporting Form:
    http://www.amsmeteors.org/fireball/report.html

    Videos of fireballs in Scandinavia & California mid-January are pretty interesting

  22. Paul

    It was most definitely a satellite. My wife saw a white cylinder junk of it flaming through a flock of Pelicans she was watching fly over Lake LBJ near Applehead Island. It was around 11am this morning. I thought she was nuts but I guess not know :)

    – Paul

  23. John Pisciotta

    Back in 1992 I was in DC traveling in a Ford Mustang convertable in the backseat with the top down. I looked up and saw a huge green fireball streakby high overhead during the afternoon daylight. It was amazing!

  24. Gonzo

    Seems the FAA is saying this was from a natural source.

  25. Alan French

    Cool video, but yet another example of how the news is more concerned with getting the story out than in getting an accurate story out. Although I guess speculation in a relative vacuum from a variety of “official” sources is good reporting.

    Good thing folks like Phil jump in to figure out what it really was.

    Clear skies, Alan

  26. alfaniner

    I bet the splits for that mile marker were amazing!

  27. Charles Boyer

    I saw Chicken Little and he clucked in satisfaction. Indeed, the sky is falling tonight.

    spaceweather.com is reporting that this has been seen in Kentucky too.

  28. Rollie

    War of the Worlds (1952 version). This is exactly how the invasion starts. Orson Welles is not around to blame for this one. Tip to Texan investigators – don’t wave a white flag at it!

  29. Greg

    Did anyone listen to the space surveillance radar audio feed today. The orbital path for the debris of Cosmos 2251 was suppossed to pass through between 16:19 and 16:29 today and produce reflective echoes. I started listening around 16:10 and began hearing distinct regular echoes by 16:15 which began peaking strongly by 16:24 and were still going strong until 16:40 and then tappering off. I saw some simple calculations that put the velocity of each of the two satellites at 26,857 Km/hr. A quick calculation of the length of time I heard significant echoes (about 20 minuntes) makes the debris cloud from the Cosmos 2251 satellite nearly 9,000 Km (or over 5 thousand miles) long . This sounds like a really large debris cloud that would cause significant problems for other satellites at the same orbital altitude. Does this make sense? Could the collision have been sufficient to cause a debris cloud this large and spread out? Any thoughts about this one?
    Greg

  30. Thanks for the stream of updates on Twitter. It was interesting to follow the event as it unfolded. The Austin 8 video requires Windows. CNN has also has the short clip.

    http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/us/2009/02/15/texas.falling.debris.news8austin

  31. Davidlpf

    Maybe these are meteors that big comet pushed ahead of it in you know the BAs favourite movie of all time, Armageddon.:-)

  32. Jason

    I don’t think your analysis is accurate:

    1) why do you think it is going so fast? You could not possibly be able to tell the speed, as you cannot determine direction from a 2-d image. I’ve seen meteors enter the atmosphere too and some of them were moving much faster.

    2) why do you think that the two fireballs cannot be linked? The two satellites were at different inclinations, and so would have much different

    3) why do you think that you would need “special circumstances” to have reentry of parts of the birds so early? a collision would have an immense amount of energy and would scatter parts in every direction, not just in the orbit plane. Additionally, the satellites are presumably uncontrolled and presumably fueled, and potentially even firing thrusters

    I’m certainly not saying that you’re wrong; just that you don’t know enough to state with such certainty that it was a natural object. Could easily be a piece of one of the satellites; might be a natural object. Dunno.

  33. Daniel Clay Graves

    The item I saw entering over ky, and was interviewed about seemed to fit descriptions of either debris or meteor. It was moving much slower than a normal meteor, I observed many of which, however the likelyhood of something being accellerated to a high enough velocity to re-enter (yes It’s counterintuitive, but you do need to speed up to drop in orbit) is unlikely, it is however possible that secondary collisions have forced lower orbits, and it did resemble debris from the ASAT test in february (which I also saw).

    http://www.wlextv.com/global/video/flash/popupplayer.asp?vt1=v&clipFormat=flv&clipId1=3449701&at1=News&h1=LEX%2018%20News%20at%2011-%20February%2014,%202009&rnd=79847238

  34. LukeL

    If this is a prelude to Armageddon then we need Michael Bay to video it and add some killer effects, extreme closeups, and multiple cuts in a single scene. We also need Aerosmith to write a killer ballad to show the passion of the moment

  35. David Palmer

    A simple orbital analysis using the ground tracks from, e.g. Heavens-Above.com shows that this was not debris form the collision.

    The debris from a collision keeps more or less the same orbit as before, but is spread out along the orbit. (Orbital plane changes require a lot more delta-v than changing the along-track position or altitude, since drift along the orbit accumulates, but displacements across the orbit swing back and forth with each cycle.)

    Looking at the ground tracks of Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251:
    Iridium 33 and
    Cosmos 2251

    Just eyeballing the tracks, the North-going leg of the orbit of Iridium 33 crosses the latitude of Texas at around 10 PM local time. For Cosmos 2251, it crosses about 4 PM local.

    An 11 AM fireball could be Iridium debris, but only if it were heading to the south-south-east. The fireball was heading NNE. So this was NOT debris from either satellite.

    Duh!

  36. MadScientist

    @Mena:

    “Does the public not realize that it’s very cluttered up there …”

    Hardly. If it *were* cluttered, no one would waste the time and money attempting a high-orbit or out-of-orbit launch. Even with the thousands of bits in near earth orbit (<2k altitude) it's mostly empty space out there and you have to be incredibly unlucky (or very good and deliberate) to hit anything.

    The graphics that some groups like to put out are misleading; the dots they place around the planet for each piece of space stuff is essentially tens to hundreds of kilometers wide while the real size of the stuff floating in that region around the earth is really on the order of a few meters and smaller (with a few exceptions like the ISS which is quite a few meters). I guess those graphics are the analog to Hollywood's "trip through the asteroid belt" where any spacecraft must dodge asteroids all over the place or risk being smashed to bits while the reality is that it takes an awful lot of skill and planning to even get near an asteroid. Those folks who have arranged close passes to asteroids and the folks who have actually fired probes at asteroids are doing really amazing stuff.

  37. Mena

    Even with the thousands of bits in near earth orbit (<2k altitude) it’s mostly empty space out there and you have to be incredibly unlucky (or very good and deliberate) to hit anything.
    Perhaps, but my point really was that there is more than a tool belt, the ISS, some satellites, and debris from this one incident up there. If no one knew about the tool belt, would it even have been news when people “seen” it? The satellite collision was close enough (in time) to this, but what would people have thought made that big boom if it hadn’t? It would be something else that they are familiar with, this time definitely a meteorite. Humans like to make sense of stuff and feel like they are part of something. They know about the collision and explain what they saw through that. Filling in the blanks with limited data, kinda sorta.

  38. I saw a fireball in the Brooklyn, New York area at around 9:15 PM 2/16.
    I was parked near the waterfront facing the Varrenzanno Bridge and a very large fireball streaked across the sky.
    The fireball had a round shape and a short tail – the round part was as big and bright as the lights from a jetliner. The flame was orange/white in color.
    It moved pretty slowly and was only visible for about 1 second, or so.
    Traveled west to east, high in the sky.

  39. netdragon

    One thing you didn’t think about was that a collision could have increased the speed of some debris (or decreased it). Probably not enough to be significant since otherwise it would be thrown out of orbit, not fall back to earth, however you should have probably mentioned that in your mathematical analysis.

  40. Don Snow

    I think that you did well, BA. Your second post makes perfect sense, to me.

    Saturday night at work, about 0438GMT, I saw what looked like an explosion in the eastern sky, from my location, in Everman, Texas – just south of Fort Worth. There was a bright expanding white light, then it receeded. I drove around to the east side of my post, to see if there were clouds, or anything. There were low clouds, but no sign of other lightning. It really looked more like an explosion, than lightning. There was no sound, however. Therefore, it seemed unlikely that it was a nearby electrical transformer. I’ve seen and heard one of those blow, and this thing was much larger. It covered a good fifteen degrees of arc on the horizon.

    Anybody heard anything about that?

  41. As requested on line here is more news from fireball twitted 5 min ago from JacopoGio
    TV Video from Austin Texas
    http://www.news8austin.com/shared/video/video_pop.asp?destlist=62161

    enjoy!

  42. I saw a piece of it fall over a pasture in Georgetown, Texas. It initially appeared, out of nowhere, about 1000 feet off the ground, indicating it had not been previously burning during at least a portion of its fall. The emission appeared at about 1000 ft., had the characteristic color of the sodium lines at 590nm, let off a brief plume of white smoke, and turned to ash, which I observed to disperse in the wind a couple hundred feet off the ground. It was travelling very slowly and surprised me that it had ignited at such an apparently-slow speed. Plume was white, ash was black and light was 590nm. It was not afire when at 2000ft or higher as I could see, rather, first ignited when trevelling at about the speed of a Cessna at 1000ft off the ground, burned about 3 seconds and was gone.

  43. Tomas

    Here’s a link to CNN’s report on Youtube from a few hours back. Notice, how the reporter stresses out that it was only a speculation that the debris was from the satellite collision.

  44. joyce

    I saw a green fireball in Kentucky last night Feruary 15 between 9:15 and 9:30 pm. I thought it was a meteor but it seemed closer than most I have seen. It burned up fast and seemed to move a little slower than most meteors. I though I was crazy!!

  45. I remember when i was growing up in Corpus Christi Texas and seeing a huge glowing disk “fall” across the sky. Freaked me and my brother out. We reported it and I was amazed at the interest it got, everyone from News to MUFON was at our house :) Late in the Summer of 1988 we were just playing at the park and we looked up and saw this object that was bigger than the moon with an orange glow around the outside sort of just fall across the sky. No noise, no boom, no contrails and a very short focal point on any tail.

    What size objects would it be re-entering that give it that size and is it mostly a wall of pressure or viewing angle that makes it that appear that big? As a kid i rode my bike around all over the side of town where i saw it fall hoping i would find a space craft or rock but nothing ever came of it.

  46. Michelle

    Last night my mom was watching the very lame local news network here in Quebec and she shouted to me “Hey, they wrote in the newsreel down there that some satellite pieces reentered over texas!”

    No “maybe”. Just “That’s a chunk of the satellites.”

    They make me sick… Can’t even research.

  47. fos

    Your science based astronomical analyses are awesome! They are the reason I keep returning. fos

  48. Brian

    Did we figure out if this thing hit the ground?

  49. Jim Storm

    I witnessed a fireball over Ky on Friday, Feb. 13th, at approximately 9 pm, CST. My wife and I were driving into Owensboro, KY, heading east, when the meteor fell. It literally appeared to drop out of the sky from about 45 degrees, and appeared to burn out at about 15 degrees. It was falling fairly straight, and pretty quick. The whole event lasted around 2 seconds. I did note persistent training. Owensboro is about 200 miles west of London, but due to the time, it was probably the same meteor. I have seen incoming satellite debris, and this fireball was moving much faster, more like a typical meteor. It was a bright, blue-green, and, even though we observed it through a windshield and the light pollution of a fairly large city, I would estimate it’s magnitude at least -6 or -7. I am an amateur astronomer, and former president of the Astronomical Association of Southern Illinois.

  50. maudyfish

    If NORAD is keeping track of all that debry, stellites and Space Station, then do they not see these meteroites passing through? Why aren’t they speaking up? Quite a few of them have been pretty good sized.

  51. @maudyfish: The satellite debris is in orbit around the earth and easier to track than one-off chunks of rock that are just crossing our path.

    Pieces of asteroids the size of which are creating these fireballs are no more than maybe a few meters across (I think the one in Canada late last year of which pieces were found as noted as the size of a school bus). Chunks that size which are coming out of nowhere are very difficult to find.

    They aren’t speaking up cause there’s nothing to speak about…

  52. Daniel

    I seen a shooting star/fireball also on Sat.night/Sunday morning. 12:30-1:00ish a.m. (Although it was not moving as fast as a normal shooting star)

    I was driving West on the Trans-Can Hwy.17 near Ottawa, Canada

    It was heading West by North-West. It lasted 4-5 seconds and burnt out before reaching the horizon.

    It would be very cool if someone could put all our sitings on a chart.

  53. veritas36

    New Fireball
    BBC today has a video of one over Sweden, somebody taping a marathon took it.

    I saw a fireball in the late 70’s while riding in a car north through the Berkshires in MA. It flash blue, then white, then burst in a myriad of pieces, looking just like a giant firecracker.
    My boss, an astronomer, asked if I got the radiant. Not in the twisty hills of the Berkshires, no way!

  54. Mike Rudmin

    Hmmm… considering the satellite collision, then the fireballs in KY, then the fireballs in Texas, I wonder if this means that we are entering a Kessler syndrome (all satellites destroyed, and debris field prevents launches for a century or so, minimum). If so, we should be trying to send up a robotic space shuttle to retrieve the ISS crew and attempt to bring them down ASAP.

    Should. I don’t say will.

    I’ve already sent this thought into NASA, but Challenger/Feynmann showed (and Columbia recapitulated) that govt can’t do space, so I don’t expect they’ll react appropriately. If this is Kessler, though, not only NASA but everyone can’t do space.

  55. William

    i saw a similar object/meteor fall from the sky just this last Friday night at around 10 pm in Athens Ohio. It was very bright and green in color, kind of like kryptonite from Superman.
    It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. i just figured it was a meteor.

  56. Paul van Gysen

    I think a mistake has been made in defining how stars function and work. I think the meteors are part of a developing galaxy. I think there are going to be more of them. One must look at the shapes made onto rock surfaces by the tiny plasma objects. They will look like spiraling octopi.

  57. Nana

    My grandson and I saw a similar object last Friday night at about 8:30 p.m. It was a very bright object that seemed to be moving incredibly fast and in a downward path from east to west.

  58. kelly Heeb

    I saw the fireball in Kentucky Friday 2/13/09. My friend and I where standing outside talking I looked up and saw a big red center but blue to a greenish light falling out of the sky. This was a big object. At first I thought plane because of the size but it wasn’t that big but it still was bigger than a shooting star and it wasn’t round it was more like jagged. It was a beautiful color. It moved fast and downward like it was heavy. Thats really the only details I remember about it.

  59. Beware the spiraling octopi!

    I think we’ve just witnessed the birth of an internet meme.

  60. Karen K

    Sean F. I also same the same fireball,exact location. I was leaving work after V day it was approx 12:38am i was in my work parking lot facing northeast ready to take a right onto rte 1 Wrentham. I saw it for about 3 seconds before it went behind cloud cover. I was on the phone with my husband and screamed OH MY GOD ! i just saw something in the sky.
    Well I have to tell you i am glad there is someone else that saw it because i was starting to doubt myself, especially after i asked around work on sunday and they thought i was crazy.

  61. lulu

    Well I live close to Waco and it was a big boom..At 11:00..and when we watched the news later on in the day we heard different things what it could be..at noon on the news they said they didn’t know for certain what it was..

  62. Sorry everyone, it was my bad.

    It was the busted FTL booster from my spaceship. I had to jettison it to land in what was left of the ship without totally crashing it. There, I’ve admitted it. Sorry about the misunderstanding and causing people to get all worried about “death from the skies” and that sort of thing.

    And if it makes you feel any better, I’m now stuck on this backwater little world just like the rest of you. At least until I find find a way to make a proper radio with this primitive crap you humans pass off as technology. Seriously, is the iPhone the best you can do? How the heck am I supposed to call home with that?

    :)

  63. trine

    I saw this fireball on Sunday 2/15/09 right at 11:00 a.m. while driving to Holy Covenant UMC on Morton Ranch Road in Katy, Texas. When I spotted it, it was twice as high as a single story house and fell to below house level. It was a red and orange ball with a white trail. I thought it was a meteor or roman candle! It was close enough that it really seemed probable that it was a leftover firework being set off in the neighborhood we were passing!

  64. Katrina Gnader

    Just wanted to say that my husband and I saw what looked like a comet (or maybe a meteor) on Saturday evening (2/14/09) around 8pm CST in Northwest Houston. It It was extremely bright, had a short “tail” trailing behind and was moving very slowly from the East to Southeast. Not seeing/hearing much reporting on this.

  65. Justice

    Yea I think the co-incidence here its a little TOO much, I know you hate to have anything ‘out of the ordinary’ happen in the skys above your own head, but guess what, something did happen. I suspect if a solid UFO flew right over you’d not be able to see it for your conditioning and call it an hallucination.

  66. Justice

    maudyfish: Norad is keeping quiet because they want to ‘play it stupid’ and play down their actual capabilities. Also I think there is more going on here than just a mere accidental collision, its all highly suspicious the way the authorities are playing this..but lets not look too closely at what our ‘betters’ are doing, hey thats why they have mr.bad astronomy to divert attention so well.

  67. Mawg

    Keep in mind that these objects are traveling at very high speed and are actually burning up due to atmospheric friction. They encounter at speeds of 50KNM or reater and most are very very small. This leaves a visible plasma as the mass of the object declerates and the oxygen in our atmosphere consumes the heated particle. Only if there is suffiecient mass will the object reach the earths surface. The shape of an object will also determine it’s flight characteristics. Many decades ago a meteor was filmed over Utah skipping the stmospere and actually flying right back out into space as ti’s approach was so shallow.

    What trouble me about this is that I saw a picture of an object in afield a white tube which was attributed to this incident. Has that object been confirmed and identified?

  68. tomdoss

    I saw the austin tape- something that big should have made an impact. any reports on that?

  69. destruct26

    i live on long island, ny, in the town of copiague. At appx 445-5 pm on 1/18/09, before the sun had begun to set, i was looking outside my car window towards the roof of my house after i pulled up across the street, and saw a turqoise ball not too disimilar to the one just filmed in austin, hover and fall with a trail of green fire, on the same angle as the austin one. The direction i was looking was south, towards the south shore of long island. It isnt the first time ive seen them. seen about 9 of em since i was 12, at different times and locations on long island. fascinating, yet creepy as hell….

  70. Mrs. M

    My husband and I just came across this online: At about 11:15 p.m. on Wednesday evening, July 26, 2000 (Central Daylight Time, or 04:15 July 27 UTC), a number of persons in central and east central Texas were fortunate to observe a very bright fireball meteor, and one of them heard a sonic boom. How eerie is that? Notice this happened in 2000!

  71. Steve

    I know nothing about astronomy but with the texas fireball in the news and having just taken a similar picture I thought I’d leave a message here. The same day that the texas fireball was filmed and at approximately the same time, I was on the Yucatan Peninsula in the city of Progreso. I have a picture of the beach pointing toward the west (toward southern texas) and there is obviously something there. The picture hasn’t been photoshopped or manipulated. If someone here is an expert please post an email where I can send the picture.
    Thanks!

  72. Iowa Jeff

    Am I the only sane peron that’s asking: WHERE DID IT LAND? Coming in that big and fast, it had to made a hellava crater. And finding the debris should answer a lot of questions, instead of all this speculation and “wishful” thinking.

  73. Iowa Jeff, it probably burned up. It takes a fair-sized meteoroid to make it all the way down.

  74. Steve, try Flickr.com. If you have a Twitter account, twitpic.com is good too. Plus there are a lot of free picture sharing sites. Google is your friend. :)

  75. Did the Texas bolide burn up or did it crash and if so where ?? I see no mention of this anywhere.

  76. Aaron Wells

    Some photos of meteorites claimed to have fallen from the fireball are at http://geology.com/meteorites/meteorite-hunting.shtml

  77. Markko

    Hei guis , i was in army that time when this meteor flight in Texas.
    Im not sure what date it was but close to that date when that object flyght in Texas , i was other way of earth (East europe) . I saw similar objects , what had bright blue color .
    Size was much bigger than on tape because i was much closer.
    There was 2 big and more some little behind them . They flyght almoust over my head , not somewhere far like on that texas tape. weather was gently cloudy ( clouds where you can see over the blue sky but covered all sky :D) Direction NW .

    Sry about bad grammar :)

    Peace !

  78. Mark

    The BIG question is, why was nothing ever found on the ground??? yet people herd the massive explosion! i smell another goverment cover-up! i know what it was.

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