Fireball reports from 2012 March
(This report has been compiled from the SPA Forum entry posted by Alastair McBeath)
Here is a summary of fireballs spotted from the British Isles and nearby during 2012 March.
March 3-4 proved to be a particularly interesting night because of the unusually long-lived fireball (perhaps lasting for 45 ± 15 seconds) which was seen very widely across the UK around 21:41-21:42 UT. Thanks to the publicity generated by that event, several other fireballs that night were reported as well, plus a fireball seen earlier in daylight on March 3rd from North Yorkshire. Many of these additional sightings can be found among those reported for the ~21:41 meteor on the American Meteor Society's website at:
or on the BBC News' webpage for the "main" fireball:
Unfortunately, the witness of the March 3 daytime event was unable to give a time for it, noting only that it was moving north to south in the sky (see BBC report 305).
* The first of the overnight events on March 3-4 was around 19:10-19:15 UT, when a bright, slow, orange meteor was seen in the western sky moving southeast according to one unlocated witness, with another possible witness in Hampshire (BBC 159 & 269).
* Then came the 21:41-21:42 fireball, on which 376 reports were received by the Meteor Section from all across Scotland, England and northeastern Wales. A full description of what probably happened, with links to many of the sightings and videos, can be found elsewhere on the Observing Forum, at:
* At some stage within half an hour either side of 22h UT a bright yellow or white possible fireball was spotted from Exeter in Devon (AMS report 322fc). The witness there recorded it at about 45° elevation to the southeast. If correct, and this was a genuine meteor, it would have been likely high above the Channel. As the 45° elevation angle meant any object would have to have been exactly as high above the surface as it was horizontally from the observer, this cannot have been another sighting of the 21:41-21:42 UT fireball, plus it was visible for less than two seconds and had a very short path.
* Within roughly five minutes of 22:25 UT, a magnitude -5/-12 event was seen from at least three places, Dublin, Lancashire and Manchester. Details from the observers suggested this fireball had plausibly occurred over the northern Irish Sea, and was likely red, orange or yellow in colour, visible for a few seconds (AMS 322fh, fi & fj). Three other reports, one from Manchester and two from Glasgow were perhaps timed between 22:30-22:35, but from the descriptions, they seemed more likely to have been mistimed observations of the 21:41-21:42 event instead (AMS 322fm, fn & fo).
* Another bright meteor between 23:00 and 23:15 UT was spotted possibly from North Yorkshire and Kent. The Kent witness indicated the fireball - assuming both reports were of just the one meteor - had likely ended above the Channel to the south-southeast of Kent, or possibly over the French coast (BBC 104 & 227).
* The final March 3-4 event reported to the SPA probably took place between 00:05 and 00:15 UT, according to six reports (BBC 87, 244, 259, 263, 273 & 372), although there were uncertainties in the timing of some of these. Those observers who mentioned their locations were in North Yorkshire, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and near London, with most describing a steeply-descending meteor which may have ended over East Anglia or the nearby North Sea.
* March 9-10 at 00:04 UT provided a magnitude -7/-10 meteor in their southern skies for two lucky motorists in Essex and East Sussex. The initial sighting from Essex is elsewhere on the Observing Forum, at:
while that from Sussex is on the AMS's summary page for the March 3 meteor, at:
* On March 10-11, a slow-moving orange-white meteor of magnitude -2/-3 or so produced some small-scale sparkling fragmentation at circa 20:30 UT for an observer in North Yorkshire.
* March 15 brought another daylight fireball report, this time from Hertfordshire at 13:02 UT, from where it was seen low to the north.
Subsequent investigations located four other sightings beyond the original from Hertfordshire, one on the American Meteor Society's website from Croydon:
and the remaining three, from Cambridge, Suffolk and Essex, on the Lunar Meteorite Hunter's Blogspot:
(note that from this link address, you need to work backwards down the long list of reports to find those from March 15).
Too few details were forthcoming from the witnesses to make triangulation to the object's atmospheric path practical (though the British and Irish Meteorite Society's Forum included a noble try, at:
However, it is likely the fireball passed somewhere over northern, probably northeast, England moving towards, or maybe even above, the adjoining North Sea. Two of the witnesses reported it may have shown some fragmentation during its flight.
* March 21-22, at 20:45 ± 15 minutes UT saw a magnitude -7 fireball appear for a witness in Somerset. That event was seen descending almost vertically in the western sky, not far from Venus.
* March 27-28 at 01:37 UT, a magnitude -6/-7 event was recorded crossing the high SSE sky by two observers at the same site in Suffolk. The meteor was described as bright white with a hint of green.
* On March 28-29 around 21:05 UT, a magnitude -3 or so orange-red meteor was seen heading northwards in the western sky from Cornwall.
As always, any new reports of these or other fireballs (meteors of magnitude -3 and brighter) would be welcomed by the Section.
Advice on what to record and where to report to can be found at :
Added by: Tracie Heywood