October 1, 2006 Fireball

2006.10.01 Fireball

2006.10.01 Fireball

This extremely unusual meteor occurred at 11:16 PM MDT. It was captured by the Guffey School camera (left, video, 689 KB). It was also caught on the Cloudbait camera (below, video, 142 KB) and Elizabeth High School camera. Part of the path between 124° and 160° is missing in the Guffey data, and between 210° and 123° in the Cloudbait data. This event was also captured on an allsky camera in New Mexico. A witness in Cañon City, Colorado, reported that fragments burned out nearly overhead and produced sonic booms several minutes later.

This is the longest fireball I've recorded, lasting some 27 seconds. Other camera data suggest its full flight lasted at least 45 seconds. The meteoroid fragmented extensively over at least 70 miles near the end of its flight. In the videos it can be seen splitting into a long string of individual fireballs. In many respects this resembles the famous Peekskill fireball, which occurred on October 9, 1992.

The fireball was traveling generally southwest to northeast. It began in Arizona, northeast of Phoenix, traveled across northwest New Mexico, and ended in Colorado east of Colorado Springs.

This object was in a very shallow trajectory, with an average speed of just 13.5 km/s, which is nearly as slow as a meteor can get. Its final height was about 28 miles. Its ground path was approximately 470 miles.

The map below shows the approximate path, from about 100 miles northeast of Phoenix to about 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Analysis of the fragmentation suggests that meteorites may have been dropped over the central San Luis Valley, roughly between Monte Vista and Great Sand Dunes National Monument. South of Crestone the path crosses the Sangre de Cristo mountains (where finding meteorites would be difficult). The path over relatively flat land continues across the Wet Mountain Valley, from about 6 miles south of Westcliffe, continuing to about Ellicott, 20 miles east of Colorado Springs. Good areas to interview witnesses and look for meteorites would be the central San Luis Valley, the central Wet Mountain Valley, and along a zone extending from about 10 miles south of Cañon City to Penrose. The ranch land from Fountain to Ellicott is under the path, but much of the fragmentation had stopped before that. Nevertheless, meteorites may have been produced near the end of the flight.

Fireball Path

If you saw this fireball and have not made a report, please do so here.

Please check back for further information as it becomes available.

© Copyright 2006, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.