Wisconsin Fireball Caught On Tape

April 16, 2010
A fireball over Wisconsin. Image credit: University of Wisconsin - AOS/SSEC

(PhysOrg.com) -- A rooftop webcam at the University of Wisconsin-Madison captured the final seconds of a fireball's Wednesday, April 14 descent into the atmosphere. A fireball is a meteor, or "shooting star," that emits a brilliant light as it enters Earth's atmosphere.

News reports in the area indicated that 911 call centers in at least six states began to light up with calls reporting the celestial visitor a little after 10 p.m. local time. Eyewitness accounts stated it was moving from west to east and broke into multiple pieces. Numerous witnesses also heard crackling sounds and a sonic boom. It is not know yet if any debris from the fireball survived the intense heat of atmospheric entry and made it to Earth's surface.

"The frequency of entering our atmosphere that is large enough to generate a fireball is something on the order of once or twice a day," said Don Yeomans of NASA's Near-Earth Object Office at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "What is somewhat unique about this one is that it was witnessed by so many and captured on tape. Sounds like it was spectacular. I wish I had been there to see it, too."

Data collected by scientists at NASA's Marshall's Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala., indicate the parent body of the fireball was approximately 1 meter (3.3 feet) in length and was not associated with the Gamma Virginids , which was taking place at the time the fireball entered the atmosphere. Instead, the small more than likely originated from somewhere in the .

When the fireball disintegrated high in the atmosphere, it released energy equivalent to the detonation of approximately 20 tons of TNT.

"Knowing the size of this small helps us determine the frequency of such occurrences," said Yeomans. "Asteroids this size are expected to enter Earth's about once a month."

NASA detects, tracks and characterizes asteroids and comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes. The Near-Earth Object Observations Program, commonly called "Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them, and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to our planet.

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9 comments

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Chase_O_
5 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2010
The headline is "Wisconsin Fireball Caught on Tape" ...... and yet there is no tape....
Zac
3 / 5 (2) Apr 16, 2010
Only PhysOrg would let us know there is video and not link us to the video. I really hate this site sometimes.
Zac
5 / 5 (4) Apr 16, 2010
incidentally, here's a link to the footage for everyone else who got conned by this headline:

http://www.youtub...Yo1LgHr4
MorituriMax
Apr 16, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
yyz
5 / 5 (1) Apr 16, 2010
Universe Today, and other sites, are reporting that the first meteorite fragments from this object (a chondrite) have been recovered near Livingston, Wisconsin. The story (w-short video montage of the fall): http://www.univer...ireball/
ThatOneGuy
not rated yet Apr 16, 2010
That's pretty cool. Being from Central Illinois and going to school in Arizona, I wouldn't have seen nor would my parents, but I bet my buddy's parents did.
eric_in_chicago
not rated yet Apr 18, 2010
a friend of mine in chicago said he heard sonic booms that night and didn't know what it was until he heard from me.

abhishekbt
not rated yet Apr 18, 2010
Well @Zac and @Chase -> You can't blame PHYSORG directly.
They follow a convention and that is the title of a post contains a w/VIDEO for posts containing videos.
Even though the title here contained the word 'tape', the title did not claim having a video link.
mike352
not rated yet Apr 24, 2010
It still baffles me that people don't know that PhysOrg doesn't write the majority of these stories. Look above - it says provided by JPL/NASA. If that title is deceiving, it's JPL/NASA's fault, not PhysOrg's.

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