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Fireball Reports from 2012 December

December was a rather cloudy month at times, with few observers able to see the peak of the Geminid meteor shower. Despite this, a number of impressive fireballs were reported from the UK :

Ben Braddick (Oxfordshire) reported two fireballs seen during the night of Dec 1-2. The first was at 21:55 GMT and was in a southerly direction, fragmenting as it did so. The second was at 01:35 GMT and heading in a roughly SW direction, but showed no fragmentation.

Anna-Marie Eardley (Glens of Foudland, Aberdeenshire reported two unusual events during the night of Dec 4-5. The first occurred at approx 22:00 GMT, whilst the second was at  approx 05:30 GMT. Observing from indoors, in each case a bright flash lit up the visible part of the sky and afterwards and orange glow was seen to develop, in the west for the first event and in the SW for the second event. In each case the glow took several minutes. Based on her knowledge of the local geography, Anna-Marie does not believe that the directions of the glows could be explained by streetlit cloud or emissions. The colour and directions of the glows does not easily fit in with Auroral emissions. Lightning over the horizon has been suggested as the cause of the flashes, but this would imply that the glows were not related to the flashes. The mystery remains.

Alex Pratt (Leeds) captured a number of Geminids using his video system, including this image (below) which shows (in negative) two bright Geminids near Leo which appeared 0.6 seconds apart at 05:46 GMT on Dec 13.

David Scanlan (Hampshire) reported a probable fireball picked up by his local society's fledgling video system at 03:40 GMT on the morning of Dec 15. A check of the all-sky cameras of the University of Hertfordshire has revealed images of this fireball on the Bayfordbury star.herts.ac.uk/allsky/imageget.php and Niton star.herts.ac.uk/allsky/imageget.php cameras. The Exmoor and Guernsey cameras wer clouded out at the time. Nick James (Chelmsford, Essex) also picked up this fireball using his video system. The path of the fireball suggests that it may have been a member of the Geminid meteor shower.

Keith Alexander (Huntingdon) and Colin Mather (Reading) reported a fireball at 19:55 GMT on Dec 17. This had a duration of several seconds, was yellow and orange in colour and left a train which persisted for several seconds. This fireball has also been reported to The Astronomer magazine by Nick James (Chelmsford, Essex), who recorded it using his video system. There is also an image on the Niton (Isle of Wight) camera of the Univ of Herts all-sky system. The image star.herts.ac.uk/allsky/imageget.php does show a long fairly featureless trail. Nick James' video also shows a lack of flares/fades during the fireball path. Unfortunately, however, the time period of the 60 second Niton image ends a few seconds before the fireball in Nick James' video and therefore it may well be the case that the Niton "trail" is merely an aircraft trail which just happened to be visible in roughly the same direction at nearly the same time ... and that the fireball was too low/behind a bank of cloud from the Niton viewpoint.

Added by:  Tracie Heywood