Source: Strange Sounds

No, this is not a report of the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Space X Crew Dragon in its rendezvous with the International Space Station.

Incredibly, nearly all of the witnesses were outside to view the launch of this rocket when an incredibly bright Taurid fireball flashed through the sky.

For many of the witnesses both the rocket and the fireball were visible simultaneously.

It occurred near 9:12 pm EST on November 10, 2021 (02:12 Universal Time on November 11 ).

More than 200 reports from 13 states

So far the American Meteor Society (AMS) has received 234 reports of this fireball. 

The AMS Event#2021-7540 event was mainly seen from North Carolina, but was also visible from Washington DC, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

Analysis of the eyewitness accounts posted on the AMS, combined with data from a NASA camera located in western North Carolina and other publicly accessible videos indicate that the meteor first became visible 48 miles (77 km) above Greenville, North Carolina.

Moving northwest at 33,000 miles per hour (53,000 km/h), it survived only 3.5 seconds before disintegrating 28 miles (45 km) above Macclesfield.

At its brightest, the fireball rivaled the Full Moon, suggesting it was caused by an object roughly 45 pounds (20 kg) in weight and 10 inches (25 cm) in diameter. The low speed could imply an asteroidal origin.

Blue-green meteor

If seen out of the corner of your eye, a meteor may appear to give off a flash of white light, similar to the way stars appear. However, meteors can appear in a variety of colors if viewing conditions are clear or if they are captured in a photograph.

The color of light that the meteors produce depends on their chemical composition. Different chemicals in the meteors produce different colors as they burn up while entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

For example, meteors made from primarily calcium will give off a purple or violet color, while those made out of magnesium will appear to have a green or teal color.

The color of a meteor fireball
The color of a meteor fireball. Picture via Accuweather

What a meteor is made out of is not the only factor that determines the color that it appears. The speed at which the meteor enters the Earth’s atmosphere can also affect the color.

The faster a meteor moves, the more intense the color may appear. Among fainter objects, it seems to be reported that slow meteors are red or orange, while fast meteors frequently have a blue color.

Fireball or bolide?

Several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day. The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight. Those that occur at night also stand little chance of being detected due to the relatively low numbers of persons out to notice them.

What are meteors
What are meteors? AMS

Additionally, the brighter the fireball, the more rare is the event. As a general thumb rule, there are only about 1/3 as many fireballs present for each successively brighter magnitude class, following an exponential decrease.

Experienced observers can expect to see only about 1 fireball of magnitude -6 or better for every 200 hours of meteor observing, while a fireball of magnitude -4 can be expected about once every 20 hours or so. [AMS, AMS]

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