An impressive Georgia bolide

Posted by David Eicher
on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

On Friday evening, May 20, observers in Georgia and Alabama witnessed a spectacular fireball blazing across their sky — a 6-foot-diameter (2 meters) chunk of asteroid or comet whizzing in at high velocity and creating an enormous flash. This happens from time to time, and, fortunately, NASA’s cameras were awake along with the observers, capturing amazing images of the bolide meteor (bolide is a term used for super-bright meteors).

Photo credit: NASA/MSFC/MEO
Photo credit: NASA/MSFC/MEO
Subsequent analysis from two NASA cameras, one near the old Civil War battlefield at Chickamauga, Georgia, and the other at the TELLUS Science Museum in Cartersville, Georgia, shows the meteor swooped in over Macon, Georgia, entering the atmosphere at an altitude of 66 miles (106 kilometers) at a velocity of 24 miles (39 km) per second. The meteoroid fragmented in flight, the pieces ionizing and perhaps some falling to the ground if they were not consumed in the atmosphere.

The NASA photos show how amazingly bright this bolide was, and the NASA site below has a movie showing the meteor’s entry. Cool stuff!

To read NASA’s release on the event, click here. 


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