January 19, 2010 Fireball

2010.01.19 FireballThis bright fireball occurred at 10:25 PM MST over eastern Colorado. This meteor was not associated with any known shower. I received several witness reports from Denver to Colorado Springs, generally reporting a slow moving, green or blue meteor. These colors are commonly seen with slow fireballs.

Data has been recovered from the following cameras:

The image at left is from the DMNS camera. The meteor intensity was very non-uniform over its path, indicating that fragmentation may have been occurring.

The meteor began about 20 km south of the town of Seibert in rural east Colorado. It first appeared at a height of 76 km, descended steeply (zenith angle 21°) and stopped burning at a height of 36 km. The meteor had an average speed of 31 km/s (70,000 mph).

The relatively low speed and flaring behavior makes meteorite production a possibility, but the steep descent angle and moderate final height suggest that no material survived.

2010.01.19 Fireball Light CurveThis chart shows the meteor's intensity versus time. The high degree of rapid variability suggest the body was breaking up and flaring as it descended.

2010.01.19 Fireball PathThis map shows details of the fireball path. The actual flight path was 77 km long, but because of the steep angle of descent the ground path is only 15 km long. The characteristics of the fireball make it difficult to determine if meteorites were produced, but the likely fall zone south of Flagler is flat ranchland, quite suitable for searching. The high altitude winds at the time of the meteor were mild, so any meteorites are likely to be located near the end of the flight path, or within a few kilometers of its end.

I checked the NEXRAD radar database, but the location is poor for this. It lies roughly between the radar stations at Denver and Goodland, but is too far from either to generate a signal for anything other than a massive dust producing event, which this was not.

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 2010, Chris L Peterson. All rights reserved.