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Notable Meteors & Fireballs : 2017 March to June

Here, in reverse chronological order, are details of notable meteors and fireballs that were reported during March 2017:


2017 April 25th  23:03:06 GMT

During the night of April 25-26,  Bill Ward captured this image of a Lyrid fireball and its first order spectrum at 23:03:05.8 GMT.


By chance, another of Bill's camera's captured the second order spectrum.

Regarding this second spectrum, Bill commented

"Not as bright of course but for a video meteor spectrum this is excellent dispersion."


and, describing the spectrum, he adds

"A beautifully resolved set of Fe lines around the bright green Mg line."



2017 April 23rd  02:26 GMT (03:26 BST)


The largely cloudy early spring UK weather badly affected observations of this year's Lyrid meteor shower.


However, Richard Fleet (Wilcot) did manage to capture this image of a the final stages of a fireball at 02:26:02 UT on the morning of April 23rd, around 14 hours after the predicted time of Lyrid maximum via his north west facing camera.





2017 April 1st

Meteor imaging is always a compromise between maximising the number of meteors recorded against the level of detail recorded for each meteor.

A fish-eye lens, by covering the whole sky can capture more bright meteors, but is of rather limited use for positional work or for studying individual meteors in detail.

A longer focal lens results in a smaller field of view and so misses those meteors that appear outside of the field of view, but records the path and light curve of each meteor in more detail.

Bill Ward reports, via Twitter, that he has recently brought into operation three cameras (see below left) with longer focus lenses, two of 25mm, one of 16mm. They produced their first result (shown below right) late in the evening of April 1st. Bill notes that the image involved shows stars as faint as magnitude 6.8.




2017 March 7th 

Bill Ward has been experimenting with a narrow field of view lens in order to record videos of unusual "dissolving" meteors in more detail. As Bill puts it, these meteors "positively ooze out of existence". On March 7th, he captured another such example. By chance, he also captured a "normal" meteor at around the same time.

He has created this video clip which contrast the appearance of the dissolving meteor with that of the normal meteor.


Bill comments "The first is a "dissolving" meteor, the second is a "normal" meteor. These videos illustrate the variation in ablation characteristics of different meteoroid particles. The "dissolving" meteor clearly decelerates more and the ablation proceeds much more slowly as the parent meteoroid disintegrates."


2017 March 5th  04:31:19 GMT

Ray Taylor (Skirlaugh, East Yorks) captured an video image of this fireball through cloud.

He comments "The trajectory appears to come directly overhead from the NNE and move in a SSW direction. It was not particularly "Fast" but certainly "Bright".   Unfortunately it was behind patchy clouds and only a couple of reference stars are visible. So cannot get an accurate fix to compute any meaningful data.  The patchy clouds do not help in deciding whether or not the object underwent a series of "Flashes"; typical of "Fragmentation". I have viewed the video several times and at slow speed; the patchy cover of clouds do make a firm conclusion either way somewhat difficult."

The IMO-News feed also included a visual report of this fireball from a witness in northern Essex, who estimated that it was of magnitude -4 and reported that it "coasted in from the North East above and parallel with Caph and Gamma in Cassiopeia then burnt out and disappeared in light layered clouds passing just above Bellatrix."


2017 March 1st  18:57:35 GMT

This fireball was reported to the IMO by a number of visual observers from locations as far south as East Yorkshire and Lancashire and as far north as Dunbartonshire and Aberdeenshire.

Observers mention flares and fragmentation, with most reporting a duration of 1-2 seconds. Colours reported included green, yellow and blue.

Detailed of the visual reports can be seen here http://fireballs.imo.net/imo_view/event/2017/834

It was also imaged in part by Alex Pratt (Leeds) and David Anderson (Ayrshire) , two members of the NEMETODE video camera network.

David's image shows the fireball through cloud.

Alex had thinner cloud and his image showing part of the fireball's path is reproduced here. Alex notes that the brightest flares probably occurred beyond the camera's field of view.

Added by:  Tracie Heywood