Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cold case investigation - green balls of fire

At about 1820hrs local time on the 16 May 2006, a large number of people scattered over Queensland, the Northern Territory and northern New South Wales reported strange lights in the sky.

Sightings:

The website of UFO Research Queensland at http://www.uforq.asn.au/sightings/sightings2006.html recorded the following four sightings:

1. Hervey Bay. "I have just sighted something most unusual. Ten minutes ago at about 6.20pm my mum and I looked up from our verandah and saw a bright light looking like a shooting star, but it was low to the ground and appeared to be breaking up. It lit up the verandah, was bright blue/green and moved east to west, towards Torbanlea. We didn't hear any noise."

2. Marburg. "Sighted a blue/green glow behind clouds in the northern sky above Marburg, Queensland. It looked like lightning glowing, but blue-green in colour. Then a fireball I presume sped/fired through in front of the clouds leaving a sparkling trail as it headed towards the hills behind our hilltop house. I was driving up the hill in a northerly direction. The fireball went in a north-west direction towards the ground. I was amazed at the brightness and colour."

3. Sunshine Coast. "Moving very fast about the size of a helicopter, moving east to west and blue/orange/yellow. I was heading north on the Bruce Highway, in approximately the Beerwah, Landsborough Glass House Mountains area. Unbelievable."

4. South-east Queensland. "On Tuesday 16 May 2006 at about 6.30pm our telephone contact number was locked up for about 40 minutes by people reporting a large, bright green object moving east to west at about 6.20pm. We also received reports via the Internet and a from a member residing in northern New South Wales.

"The sightings were made by people located on a north-south line spanning from about Ballina to Hervey Bay, a distance of about 375 kilometres, and a line west from Brisbane to about Gatton, about 100km. The witnesses were looking to the north or the south (Hervey bay) at an object moving east to west, so it must have been at an altitude of the order of 50km. The duration of the sightings was up to 5 seconds, and sparks came off the object and tended to be left behind. These details are consistent with a piece of space junk or a meteorite burning up in our atmosphere."

The website of the Australian UFO Research Network at http://www.auforn carried the following additional report.

5. Strathpine, Brisbane, Queensland. " They were travelling north when they saw a very bright light, travel east to west. It was about 60 degrees from the horizon and it travelled very quickly, and was "very horizontal," It almost looked like fireworks being shot directly horizontally, but it didn't explode. It just disappeared."

A check of the Victorian UFO Research Society's website and that of UFO Research NSW failed to locate any additional reports, which assists locate the geographic area of witnesses.

Stephen Hughes:

Stephen Hughes of the Queensland University of Technology has just published a scientific paper about this event, titled "Green fireballs and ball lightning" in Proceedings of the Royal Society A. I located the paper's abstract at the society's website at http://rspa.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/early/2010/11/26/rspa.2010.0409.abstract

Abstract:

"This paper presents evidence of an apparent connection between ball lightning and a green fireball. On the evening of 16 May 2010 at least three fireballs were seen by many people in the skies of Queensland, Australia.

"One of the fireballs was seen passing over the Great Divide about 120km west of Brisbane, and soon after, a luminous green ball about 30cm in diameter was seen rolling down the slope of the Great Divide.

"A detailed description was given by a witness indicates that the phenomenon was probably a highly luminous form of ball lightning.

"A hypothesis presented in the paper is that the passage of the Queensland fireball created an electrically conductive path between the ionosphere and ground, providing energy for the ball lightning phenomenon.

"A strong similarity is noted between the Queensland fireball and the Pasmonte fireball seen in New Mexico in 1933. Both meteors exhibited a twist in the tail that could be explained by hydrodynamic forces. The possibility that multiple sightings of fireballs across southeast Queensland were produced owing to fragments from comet 73P Schwassmann-Wachmann is discussed."

My comments:

Firstly, for more information on the Pasmonte fireball click http://epswww.unm.edu/meteoritemuseum/virtualtour/world.htm

Secondly, all in all, a fascinating piece of research by Stephen Hughes. I am now looking to read a copy of the full paper.

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