Video of the daylight California fireball

By Phil Plait | May 31, 2012 6:00 am

On April 22, 2012, a chunk of asteroid one or two meters across burned up in Earth’s atmosphere. It came in over California and was seen by a lot of people, despite it occurring at about 8:00 a.m. local time and in broad daylight.

I just became aware that some footage was taken of the event, and as far as I know is the only video we have of it. It was taken by Shon Bollock, who was making a time-lapse kayaking video just outside Kernville, California as part of his Shasta Boyz adventuring website:

Pretty cool! It looks like he caught the very beginning of it burning up in the upper atmosphere. Not long after this, the meteoroid broke apart, raining down small meteorites onto the ground which were later found spread over the countryside.

The video is being studied by astronomers and meteoriticists to try to calculate the trajectory, speed, and possible orbit of the object. This is difficult with just one video, so if you have pictures you took or, better yet, more video, please let me know!

Tip o’ the Whipple Shield to Aaron Johnson on Twitter.

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Comments (12)

  1. Trajectory, speed and orbit from one video is not just difficult – it is impossible.

    You need records from a secondary station. Otherwise you can’t do it.

    Maybe a combination with visual records will be possible, but that will not yield very precise results.

  2. Ron Patton

    Hey Phil – Can you expound on exactly how these meteorite hunters locate pieces on the ground? I’m not referring to triangulating the trajectory and plotting it on a map. I’m thinking of the seemingly statistical improbability of searching for and finding (not dumb luck stumbling upon which often happens) small pieces of rock scattered over hundreds of square miles. Is it as simple as (or as hard as, depending on your tenacity) the line from Space Balls: “Tell him to comb the desert! Do you hear me? Comb the desert!”

  3. BigBob

    > Shon Bollock

    Srsly? Yep, name checks out!

  4. Very cool. Would love to witness one of these myself.

  5. No matter what I do (tried every kind of refresh), the video keeps stopping at 16 seconds, as though it has some kind of fault.

  6. Carey

    Don’t worry Adrian (#4), it just loops and zooms in after that. If you need help seeing where it is, it’s about smack in the middle of the the left third of the video frame.

  7. kat wagner

    I came for the video and stayed for the music.

  8. I came for the video and muted the music.

  9. Kevin in Sacramento

    Ron, the falling meteorites were picked up by WEATHER RADAR over an area centered on Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, CA. This is how the first fragments were located. It is not to hard to check parking lots and trails and HOPE to get lucky.

  10. Tribeca Mike

    Wowsers, I was hoping someone somewhere would be able to film this. You made my night!


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