August 17, 2001 Fireball

This was the brightest fireball over Colorado in recorded history. If fell nearly vertically over the San Luis Valley at 10:44 PM. Hundreds of reports were received, and many witnesses were interviewed in person. Additional data was received from a total of five infrasound monitoring stations and one all-sky camera. This event has proven extremely difficult to analyze. There are a large number of conflicting reports from witnesses, which may be the result of the meteor breaking up at the end. At this time, based on all the evidence available, the following information is available:

  • Entry mass: ~1000 kg (1 ton)
  • Entry velocity: ~15 km/s (34,000 mph)
  • Magnitude: >-18 (100 times brighter than the full moon)
  • Zenith angle: <10° from vertical
  • Energy dissipated in the atmosphere: ~2e11 joules (50 tons TNT)
  • Likely mass of material reaching the ground: >10 kg (20 lbs)
  • Likely area of meteorite fall: La Garita Mountains, Colorado
Investigation into this event is continuing, and new information will be posted on this page.

© Copyright 2002, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.