Anyone know what a meteorite looks like?

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Lord Kangana
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Anyone know what a meteorite looks like?

Post by Lord Kangana » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:29 pm

Only I think I've just seen one. Wanted verification of whether what I'd seen was what I'd seen.

To clarify; myself (and 3 other witnesses) saw a very bright light streak across the sky, burning with the intensityof magnesium, seemingly earth bound. There was plenty of cloud cover, and nary a star to be seen, so we've pretty much ruled out shooting stars and satellites. I haven't ruled out a military plane in afterburn, but I've seen a couple of those over the tops before, and they are generally a different colour. Wikipedia aside, anyone intrested or knowledgable about this stuff?
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Re: Anyone know what a meteorite looks like?

Post by thebish » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:53 pm

Lord Kangana wrote:Only I think I've just seen one. Wanted verification of whether what I'd seen was what I'd seen.

To clarify; myself (and 3 other witnesses) saw a very bright light streak across the sky, burning with the intensityof magnesium, seemingly earth bound. There was plenty of cloud cover, and nary a star to be seen, so we've pretty much ruled out shooting stars and satellites. I haven't ruled out a military plane in afterburn, but I've seen a couple of those over the tops before, and they are generally a different colour. Wikipedia aside, anyone intrested or knowledgable about this stuff?
I'm shocked! You're not suggesting there are people on this forum who simply look up wiki and pass off the info as their own with the simple addition of a phrase such as "off the top of my head" or "If I remember rightly"... :shock:

key thing is - did you see it land? if so - there was probably a crater - right? - and - just off the top of my head, if memory serves me right, there are four visual clues that a rock has extraterrestrial origin - Fusion Crust, Aerodynamic Sculpting, Regmaglypts and metallic traces.

of course you may not have seen it land...

in which case you might have seen (if it was like magnesium) a fireball (a very bright meteor) -

generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky. A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation.

If you happen to see one of these memorable events, we would ask that you report it to the American Meteor Society, remembering as many details as possible. This will include things such as brightness, length across the sky, color, and duration (how long did it last), it is most helpful of the observer will mentally note the beginning and end points of the fireball with regard to background star constellations, or compass direction and angular elevation above the horizon.

The table below will aid observers in gaging the brightness of fireballs:

Object magnitude
----------------------------
Polaris +2.1
Vega +0.14
Sirius -1.6
Bright Jupiter -2.5
Bright Mars -2.8
Bright Venus -4.5
1st Quarter Moon -9.4
Full Moon -12.6
Sun -26.7

(just off the top of my head)

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Post by Lord Kangana » Tue Sep 08, 2009 11:56 pm

I've been doing my own digging, and it looked almost identical to this:

http://www.amsmeteors.org/images/20080930edin.jpg

So I'm fairly satisfied that I'm not going mad. :D
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Post by seanworth » Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:47 am

If you are going to go looking for it be careful just in case it was a UFO. I've heard those aliens are into anal probing.

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Post by blurred » Wed Sep 09, 2009 11:59 am

Kind of like a big lump of rock.

Happy to help.

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Post by boltonboris » Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:23 pm

blurred wrote:Kind of like a big lump of rock.

Happy to help.
Perfect for throwing through patio windows blurred?

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Post by KeeeeeeeBaaaaaaab » Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:30 pm

boltonboris wrote:
blurred wrote:Kind of like a big lump of rock.

Happy to help.
Perfect for throwing through patio windows blurred?
Or Bulgarian waiters' heads.

What? Just saying..... :evil:
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Post by Hoboh » Wed Sep 09, 2009 1:23 pm

Megsons head :conf:

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Post by Athers » Wed Sep 09, 2009 1:56 pm

Another Bolton meteorite?
http://www.twitter.com/dan_athers" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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Post by Dujon » Fri Sep 11, 2009 2:17 am

[Lord Kangana]

Firstly:

A meteoroid is a loose piece of rock whizzing around in space.
A meteor is a meteoroid which meets the Earth's atmosphere and either burns up or skips back into space.
A meteorite is a piece of rock - formerly a meteoroid - which makes it through Earth's atmosphere without vaporising and lands (gently or otherwise) on Earth's surface or splashes into the sea.

Whilst the object you viewed could have been either of the last two the fact that you indicated a bright burst towards the end of its visibility would indicate a meteor. That said though, there is always the possibility that fragments from the final disintegration could well have landed. When such occurs the object is rarely visible as it has cooled enough and slowed to such an extent that it does not emit much, if any, light.

Depending on the size, speed and direction (plus its composition) of a meteoroid the affect the atmosphere has on the object differs. I have watched meteors in clear skies on many an occasion; some of them leave a trail of incandescence which can persist for quite a few seconds, whilst others are fast moving points of light which, even though they appear to have 'tails', are transitory events.

My guess is that you saw a pretty decent bolide (the term for a meteor that explodes). It is not rare for people to see such an event through cloud cover but it is rare enough to suggest that you and your companions are now members of a select group. Yes, I'm a bit envious, but having seen a few of them without the cloud I'm not having a tantrum. I wonder whether any others saw the event?

Before you ask, yes I'm interested in astronomy; I do sometimes wander outside to view the sky with my naked eyes, I sometimes take with me my binoculars and, if I feel up to it, haul out my ten inch Newtonian (anyone giggling will be expelled).

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Post by blurred » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:15 am

boltonboris wrote:
blurred wrote:Kind of like a big lump of rock.

Happy to help.
Perfect for throwing through patio windows blurred?
:conf:

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Post by Lord Kangana » Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:33 am

Thanks for the reply Dujon,as a complete novice on these things it can be quite bizarre to see something which you've never witnessed before. It becomes very difficult to describe or understand, as there is no prior knowledge or experience to fall back on.

I've been doing a bit of (very) light reading on the subject, and it seems that we saw something falling through the earths atmosphere (the make-up of which I couldn't say). Your suggestion that it may have been our eyesight providing the 'tail' is, I think, a valid one, because the sheer intensity of the light would probably have lead our eyes to interpret it in such a manner.

If you're interested,it happened between Tarbes and Lannemezan,whilst driving on the A64 (France). The road itself has many rises and falls as it twists through the hills, valleys and plateaus,and we were on a 'down slope' at the time, which afforded views for miles around. The cloud cover was high, and it being a very sparsley populated (amongst the lowest in Europe) there is little light polution (and very little traffic at 11 p.m. on a tuesday night!). As it happens, the local papers from t'other week had said that they were expecting meteor showers over the southwest (though I didn't read this 'til after "the event".)

As for others, as I say, the time, place and population would suggest very few others did. Having said that, I couldn't say what distance we were at, and considering Toulouse is the centre of the French air/space industry(and not fa away), and considering there are several observatories dotted around the region, I'd be amazed if no-one else witnessed it and recorded it. Its probably early days yet for it to be published on the inernet, but I'll be keeping a weather eye on th site to see if it eventually appears.

(does any of this help??)
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Post by Dujon » Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:55 am

[L.K.] Given your description of 'light' cloud cover and the behaviour of the object I suspect that it did indeed have a 'tail'. As you can probably imagine, many meteors/meteorites enter the Earth's atmosphere travelling at multiples of thousands of kilometres an hour relative to the Earth itself. Many meteors you might have seen streaking across the sky are probably smaller than average sized pea. Larger ones such as the one you were fortunate enough to see survive for much longer purely because of their size but eventually (again depending on their composition and the heat generated) can literally explode and produce the final flash of light which you seem to have experienced.

Yes, sometimes the 'tail' is merely an artifact produced by the way our optic nerves work but just as often it is a real phenomenon. If a chunk of matter hits our atmosphere at, say, 60,000 Kilometres an hour I am quite sure that you can imagine what happens. Yes, it gets rather hot - and so does the air through which it is passing. In fact the air becomes so hot due to this friction (which slows the object) that it can become ionised. What that means is that (remember the fact that energy cannot be lost?) all that energy has to go somewhere. Part of it goes in simple heat - infra-red - but a significant amount results in visible light. Hence the tail we can see. On occasion this 'tail' persists for some time, sufficient enough to see it deform from its straight path due to the upper air 'weather' through which it passed.

On your comment regarding the forecast of a meteor shower - I don't know. The Perseid stream would have been a few weeks ago (I think) in early to mid-August.

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Post by David Entwistle » Sun Oct 11, 2009 10:06 am

Lord Kangana,

This is clearly an unusual subject for a Wanderers forum, so I'll keep this brief.

As Dujon has indicated, what you describe does sound like a meteoric fireball. In France fireball reports are collated by REFORME and in Spain by SOMYCE and SPNM.

http://www.imcce.fr/host/reforme/indexen.htm
http://www.somyce.org
http://www.spmn.uji.es/

There are a number of all-sky cameras operating in the area.

Dujon, thanks for the excellent information you've provided.

Best wishes,

David Entwistle
Assistant Meteor Director, Society for Popular Astronomy.
http://www.popastro.com/sections/meteor.htm

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Post by Hoboh » Sun Oct 11, 2009 11:52 am

David Entwistle wrote:Lord Kangana,

This is clearly an unusual subject for a Wanderers forum, so I'll keep this brief.

As Dujon has indicated, what you describe does sound like a meteoric fireball. In France fireball reports are collated by REFORME and in Spain by SOMYCE and SPNM.

http://www.imcce.fr/host/reforme/indexen.htm
http://www.somyce.org
http://www.spmn.uji.es/

There are a number of all-sky cameras operating in the area.

Dujon, thanks for the excellent information you've provided.

Best wishes,

David Entwistle
Assistant Meteor Director, Society for Popular Astronomy.
http://www.popastro.com/sections/meteor.htm

Flamin' Nora who is actually reading our Forums?

Reckon I'd better tone down planet hobo a bit or the lefties might just take me away!!!!

BTW Mr Entwistle welcome onboard, your comments and contribution actually raise confidence about the men in white coats :mrgreen:

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Post by Lord Kangana » Mon Oct 12, 2009 1:14 am

Many thanks for the reply David. Are you trawling the internet for this kind of thing, were alerted, or have a Wanderers connection? It boggles the mind a little that I ( A Boltonian) saw a meteor in the South West of France, have had a conversation/education with a guy living in Oz about it, and now contact from an organisation such as yourselves. I'm quite worried that I imagined it all (though I hadn't had a drink that day so....).

Anyway, I await developments with great interest.
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Post by Dujon » Mon Oct 12, 2009 2:20 am

[Dear Lord] I can pretty well assure you that what you saw was not a dream or hallucination regardless of your sobriety.

[David Entwistle] Thanks for your contribution and, as Lord Kangana mentioned, I am intrigued as to why your expert opinion was directed to our little site. Further to that comment I wonder if you would mind if I sent an e-mail to you relative to radio echoes?

[All] The terms 'bolide' and 'fireball' are pretty much interchangeable when it comes to descriptions of meteors or meteorites. Whilst it is a matter of semantics I tend to the 'bolide' for an exploding meteor and a 'fireball' for those rather strange (and as far as I know still unexplained) blobs of energy which have been reported as 'drifting' around the countryside.

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Re: Anyone know what a meteorite looks like?

Post by Lord Kangana » Sun Jun 22, 2014 9:03 am

How many points do you get for seeing 2 in a lifetime Dujon?

Only I forgot to mention at the time that I saw another (something) last month. Not as intense this time, but clearly something burning up in the atmosphere (substantially different to a classic shooting star, which looks like a star, this one was definitely in the lower atmosphere and burning).
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Re: Anyone know what a meteorite looks like?

Post by Montreal Wanderer » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:05 pm

Lord Kangana wrote:How many points do you get for seeing 2 in a lifetime Dujon?

Only I forgot to mention at the time that I saw another (something) last month. Not as intense this time, but clearly something burning up in the atmosphere (substantially different to a classic shooting star, which looks like a star, this one was definitely in the lower atmosphere and burning).
Could it be space debris from man-made satellites returning home?
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Re:

Post by Lost Leopard Spot » Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:08 pm

Dujon wrote:[Lord Kangana]

Firstly:

A meteoroid is a loose piece of rock whizzing around in space.
A meteor is a meteoroid which meets the Earth's atmosphere and either burns up or skips back into space.
A meteorite is a piece of rock - formerly a meteoroid - which makes it through Earth's atmosphere without vaporising and lands (gently or otherwise) on Earth's surface or splashes into the sea.

Whilst the object you viewed could have been either of the last two the fact that you indicated a bright burst towards the end of its visibility would indicate a meteor. That said though, there is always the possibility that fragments from the final disintegration could well have landed. When such occurs the object is rarely visible as it has cooled enough and slowed to such an extent that it does not emit much, if any, light.

Depending on the size, speed and direction (plus its composition) of a meteoroid the affect the atmosphere has on the object differs. I have watched meteors in clear skies on many an occasion; some of them leave a trail of incandescence which can persist for quite a few seconds, whilst others are fast moving points of light which, even though they appear to have 'tails', are transitory events.

My guess is that you saw a pretty decent bolide (the term for a meteor that explodes). It is not rare for people to see such an event through cloud cover but it is rare enough to suggest that you and your companions are now members of a select group. Yes, I'm a bit envious, but having seen a few of them without the cloud I'm not having a tantrum. I wonder whether any others saw the event?

Before you ask, yes I'm interested in astronomy; I do sometimes wander outside to view the sky with my naked eyes, I sometimes take with me my binoculars and, if I feel up to it, haul out my ten inch Newtonian (anyone giggling will be expelled).
Psssssssshhhhw! 10 inch Newtonian!!
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