Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Meteor in the Show me State?

According to news reports, an exceptional meteor was spotted breaking up over my hometown of St. Louis this past Sunday. Some reports have claimed that impacts were witnessed, and some suspicious debree has apparently been found, but as of yet, I've yet to hear any confirmations that there are indeed, any extraterrestrial rocks.

Meteors, especially bright ones like this are one of my favourite astronomical events because, unlike so many other things, they're dynamic. Here one second, gone the next. Many other things considered "quick" in an astronomical time scales, like supernovae, still take days and changes can rarely be percieved from moment to moment.

I wish I could have seen this meteor. One of the first thigns that really turned me on to astronomy was a meteor I saw while riding my bike with a friend in 6th grade. It was very bright and lasted a long time for a meteor.

But perhaps the best one I've ever observed was at my previous school at their observatory for a star party with the Ozarks Amateur Astronomer's Club. This meteor was bright enough to cast shadows as it left a long smoke trail and hissed across the sky.

7 comments:

TheBrummell said...

...and hissed across the sky.

How big does a meteor have to be, and how close to it do you have to be, to hear it?

Stephen said...

We could schedule one. You wanna be there when the HST falls? The ISS?

Jon Voisey said...

brummel: There's no real clear picture on what precisely the sound is caused by or how close one needs to be. Try this article for some more information.

Michael said...

That sounds like a big meteor; are there any pictures? I know it's hard to get imagery of random, unlikely events like that, but with a large enough area, someone's bound to have a camera ready.

That hearing thing is pretty cool. I wonder if you could use VLF to make people's hair talk to them; tell them the FSM is coming. :)

I saw a particularly long-lasting meteor last night and came up with a question, which this post reminds me of: does the amount of time the meteor is visible have more to do with the size of the rock, the speed of the rock, or an equal-ish combination?

Jon Voisey said...

Meteors aren't my main interest, so I'm not positive, but from what I understand, there's not a terribly large range of velocities of typical things to be entering the atmosphere. For major meteor showers, the cause is dust leftover from comets that have crossed our orbit, thus, the major component of motion wouldn't be into our atmosphere, which leads me to suspect that the speed, for the most part, is primarily the motion of earth plowing into it.

As such, I strongly suspect that it's the size of the object that's the most important in the amount of time it's lit up, but the speed would definately have some effect. I'm just not sure how much.

Stephen said...

We could schedule one. You wanna be there when the HST falls? The ISS?

TheBrummell said...

...and hissed across the sky.

How big does a meteor have to be, and how close to it do you have to be, to hear it?