Posted by Emily Lakdawalla
14-10-2009 17:58 CDT
I was debating whether to write anything about a reported fireball that streaked across the sky in the Netherlands at roughly 19:00 local time (17:00 UTC) yesterday, October 13, but seeing this image ended my internal debate. Wow!
There are more of the same here (website's in Dutch).
Daniel Fischer is collecting links to various sources on the meteor, and included one to a German forum where lots of images were posted showing the dissipating trail of the meteor. The observer was in Bremerhaven, about 80 kilometers to the northeast of Groningen, where the fireball photos were taken. The Bremerhaven observer reported seeing the bolide as well -- maybe in two pieces -- and that it took four or five seconds to cross his sky.
A reader pointed me to something cool which I also now see is posted on spaceweather.com: the apparent detection of a boom from the bolide on an infrasound array.
As dramatic as these photos are, such fireballs are actually a relatively commonplace event. They're a reminder that Earth orbits in a solar system shooting gallery, but that our atmosphere protects us against all but the biggest impactors. This one's only unusual because it happened over a densely populated area at a time of day when there were lots of people out and about.