Unusual Fireballs Caught on NASA Cameras

Most astronomers know that if animals start acting weird in the middle of the night, they need to go outside and look up at that sky. That was the case in the wee hours of Feb. 13, 2012, in Georgia. The cows started mooing unexpectedly and the dogs went to howling. The cause for the disturbance was a fireball in the sky.

Astronomers have long argued that more fireballs occur in February than during any other month. NASA has established the All-sky Fireball Network to study them. Currently, the network has six cameras located in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and New Mexico. The plan is to analyze data collected from these special cameras to determine the frequency and orbital trajectory of those caught on film. Astronomers working with the program have announced that these unusual fireballs have been caught on the cameras.

The unusual fireballs are moving slower than normal. Astronomers have recorded them moving about 15 kilometers per second when they hit the atmosphere. They also appear to slow down faster than normal and have come closer to the Earth than in the past. The cameras have recorded them coming within 31 miles of the Earth which is pretty amazing as well. NASA’s astronomers are currently speculating that they originate in the asteroid belt, but not necessarily from a single location.

If your animals start acting strangely, go outside and look up. They’re likely responding to fireballs flying across the night sky.

Image Credit: NASA

Reference:

http://www.nasa.gov/offices/meo/outreach/all_sky_fireball_network_detail.html

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