Fireball Meteor
Captured on Tape

In 2008, the University of Western Ontario Meteor Group captured incredibly rare video footage of a meteor falling to Earth.

On Wednesday, October 15 at 5:28 a.m., all seven cameras of Western's Southern Ontario Meteor Network recorded a bright, slow fireball in the predawn sky.

The team of astronomers suspects the fireball dropped meteorites in a region north of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, that may total as much as a few hundred grams in mass.
SOMN fireball event: October 15, 2008
Camera 06 Orangeville movie (lights at bottom are an aircraft) Click on image to view .avi video.

Associate Professor Peter Brown and Phil McCausland, a postdoctoral researcher in Planetary Science, are hoping to enlist the help of local residents in recovering one or more possible meteorites that may have crashed.

"This event was a relatively slow fireball that made it far into the Earth's atmosphere. Most meteoroids burn up by the time they hit an altitude of 60 or 70 kilometres from the ground," said McCausland.

"This one was tracked by our all-sky camera network to have penetrated to an altitude of about 37 kilometres and it slowed down considerably, so there is a possibility that at least one and possibly several small meteorites made it to the ground."

By knowing the trajectory from the camera observations, the researchers can also track backwards to get the orbit of the object before it hit the Earth.

"The meteorite was on a typical Earth-crossing asteroid-type orbit, so we also expect that it is a stony-type meteorite," says McCausland.

University of Western Ontario

Meteorites and the Early Solar System II
and the Early Solar System II

They range in size from microscopic particles to masses of many tons. The geologic diversity of asteroids and other rocky bodies of the solar system are displayed in the enormous variety of textures and mineralogies observed in meteorites. The composition, chemistry, and mineralogy of primitive meteorites collectively provide evidence for a wide variety of chemical and physical processes. This book synthesizes our current understanding of the early solar system, summarizing information about processes that occurred before its formation. It will be valuable as a textbook for graduate education in planetary science and as a reference for meteoriticists and researchers in allied fields worldwide.

Falling Stars
Falling Stars
A Guide to Meteors and Meteorites

Written by the former director of the Chabot Space & Science Center in Oakland, California, Mike Reynolds, this is an illustrated primer on meteor watching for amateur astronomers.

"Serious meteor watchers can contribute significantly to the field of meteoritics, including the recovery of meteorites," Reynolds points out. "And observations during a very active meteor shower or one producing bright fireballs are quite thrilling."

A chapter on meteor showers provides dates and locations for annual events, from the Quadrantids in early January to the Zeta Aurigids in late December. Fireballs are much less regular, but tend to be more likely from mid-April to early May in  the evening sky to the southeast.

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