Emily LakdawallaOct 14, 2009

Netherlands fireball

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!

Fireball over the Netherlands, October 13, 2009
Fireball over the Netherlands, October 13, 2009 Robert Mikaelyan acted fast as a bright meteor streaked across the sky at about 19:00 local time (17:00 UTC), snapping six photos of the meteor over three seconds. Robert Mikaelyan

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.

Dissipating trail behind the Netherlands fireball
Dissipating trail behind the Netherlands fireball Maciej Liebert of Bremerhaven captured several photos in the aftermath of the fireball that crossed the sky of the Netherlands on October 13, 2009 after about 19:00 local time (17:00 UTC). Maciej Libert, Bremerhaven, the Netherlands

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.

Infrasound detection of Netherlands bolide
Infrasound detection of Netherlands bolide An infrasound array, designed to listen for ground-shaking events, apparently detected the explosion of the Netherlands bolide witnessed by thousands on October 13, 2009. <a href="http://www.knmi.nl/~evers/">L&auml;slo Evers</a>, KNMI

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.

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