December 6, 2008 Fireball

2008.12.06 FireballThis extremely bright fireball occurred at 1:06 AM MST over central Colorado. I have only received two witness reports.

Data has been recovered from the following cameras:

The image at left is from the Cloudbait camera. The meteor produced a short trail from this viewpoint, and ended in a brilliant terminal explosion, which is magnitude -18 (100 times brighter than the full Moon). This explosion is lighting up the thin clouds, allowing tree silhouettes to be seen. It was otherwise a very dark night.

Based on the camera data, I have determined that the meteor began over Hwy 24 on the northeast side of Colorado Springs, at a height of 107 km (67 mi), and descended to the southwest, ending over Hwy 115 about 10 km north of Penrose. Its final height was 86 km (54 mi). The meteor had an average speed of 50.5 km/s (114,000 mph) and descended at 26° from the horizontal. Its radiant was in Ursa Major, at RA 195°, dec +58°, which is not associated with any known shower.

The fairly high altitude of the terminal explosion, combined with a high speed, is not generally favorable for meteorite production. However, the extremely bright terminal explosion makes this a very untypical event, and it remains possible that meteorites reached the ground. The most likely location is east of Hwy 115, between the terminal explosion point and the city of Penrose.

2008.12.06 Fireball PathThis map shows details of the fireball path. The colored wedges indicate the view from each camera. The orange arrow is the ground path of the meteor, with the arrowhead being the location of the terminal explosion. The green ellipse is the likely fall zone for any meteorites, based on the forward motion of the debris, the estimated fall time, and the high altitude winds that were present at the time (31 m/s to the southeast).

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

Please check back for further information as it becomes available.

© Copyright 2008, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.