Subject: FRIDAY'S FANTASTIC FIREBALLS
Date: 25 September 2012 02:16:23 BST
Sorry for the delay on this*
If anyone saw the major fireballs which appeared over Ireland (and parts of GB) at about 22.55 BST on Friday 21 September, please quickly send as much detail as possible of your observation to me, and to Armagh Observatory, at jmfarm.ac.uk.
Obviously if you have any photo or video images, these are VERY useful, so please forward them with details of time, focal length of lens, direction, and any other relevant information.
PLEASE GIVE AS MUCH OF THE FOLLOWING DETAIL AS POSSIBLE:
1. Your name, address, and a telephone number.
2. Your location from where you saw the event, as accurately as possible. Preferably a GPS latitude & longitude, or an Ordnance Survey 6 figure Grid Reference, or a distance along a given direction or named/numbered road from a named town & county.
3. Time of the event.
4. What direction were you facing when you first saw the fireballs? Please give this as a compass direction.
5. And in what direction were the fireballs when you first saw them?
6. Approximately what angle above the horizon were the fireballs when you first saw them? For reference, the horizon is 0 degrees, and the point directly overhead is 90 degrees. For comparison, the midday Sun at this time of year is about 35 degrees above the horizon.
7. Approximately what angle above the horizon were the fireballs when they passed at their highest relative to you? (see 6 above for reference)
8. Approximately what angle above the horizon were the fireballs when they disappeared from your view? (see 6 above for reference). And was this because they faded away, or passed behind cloud or a house or tree or hill etc?
9. What direction were the fireballs when they were passing highest above your horizon?
10. IMPORTANT: If possible, please give the track of the fireballs relative to any prominent stars or constellations, e.g. 'just below Altair', or 'Through Delphinus' etc. Even better would be several reference points, e.g. From between Aries and Triangulum, passing just above Altair, and through the 'keystone' of Hercules. Or whatever.
11. Approximately what direction were the fireballs when they disappeared from your view? (see 4 for reference).
12. How many separate fireballs did you see?
13. Can you give an idea of the brightness of the brightest, and of the faintest, ones that you saw? Either give a magnitude (e.g. + 1, or -3, or -6 etc), or else compare with other objects such as Sirius (-1.5), Jupiter (-2.5 approx.) or Venus at its brightest (-4.5) or brighter still.
14. Please describe any colours that you saw.
15. Please describe any fragmentation that you saw.
16. Please describe any sounds that you heard which might have been associated with the fireballs. IMPORTANT: Please describe when you heard these sounds in relation to the sighting, e.g. 'as they were approaching', or 'as they passed highest / closest', or 'just after they had passed closest', or 'as they were disappearing', or as best you can.
17. How fast were they moving when at their fastest, probably when they were at their highest above the horizon? Compare with the apparent maximum speed of either the International Space Station or any other fast satellite, or with the slowest meteor you have ever seen, or with a high altitude jet going overhead.
18. For how long in total were they visible (in seconds or minutes & seconds)?
19. How would you describe your experience in observing similar objects in the night sky, e.g. meteors, other bright fireballs, the ISS, etc?: 'None', 'A little', 'Some', 'Quite experienced', or 'Very experienced'.
20. Any other relevant information.
* - I was away in Dublin (just after leaving an astronomy event at Dunsink Observatory) when the event happened, and after wading through a mountain of email on my return today, and checking out some reported meteorites in Newtownabbey which were supposed to have fallen from the fireballs (false alarm, unfortunately), I have finally been able to issue this.