25 September 2015
I was lucky. I was outside for just a few minutes, and turned around at just the right time.
Now, I’ve seen meteors before. Shooting stars, like the Perseid meteor shower. But this was a big ol’ bright fireball.
At first, I thought it was a firework or something man-made. It was bright, and moving slower than I’d seen shooting stars move. It had a long trail that changed colour as it fell, although it was mostly green.
And it looked like it was headed straight for the ground. I seriously wondered if it might have landed and made an impact.
Idiot that I am, I didn’t look at my watch to get the exact time. It was too fast for video. It lasted just a few seconds.
Of course, I did what anyone would do today when they want to catch up with real-time information: I hopped on Twitter. Sure enough, there were tweets about seeing a meteor at about the same time I did. Most people didn’t have where they lived, but the timing and description matched what I saw, so I was pretty sure this was real.
I tweeted if anyone knew where I could report this, since the trajectory led me to think it might, just might, have landed. Bad Astronomer and one-time UTPA presenter Phil Plait came through and told me about the American Meteor Society’s reporting website. It’s a very cool process; very easy to give a lot of information. If you ever see a meteor, report it! For science!
The phrase “once in a lifetime” gets overused a lot, but this probably was a true once in a lifetime event.
Additional: Here’s the report page of the American Meteor Society of last night’s fireball. Quite surprised by spread out the observers were!