Saturday, January 24, 2015

"Fireballs" and UAP sightings

Hi all,


I have recently noticed that there have been a number of media reports of objects in the sky, which although headlined along the lines of "UFO screams across the sky" or "UFO caught on video," (click here ) have all the characteristics of a piece of natural material burning up spectacularly in the Earth's atmosphere. I therefore, thought it appropriate to review the subject of "fireballs."

A typical Australian example, featured in the Bundaberg News Mail newspaper of 17 January 2015 (click here.)  In part it read, "As Ryan Peat glanced up at the sky on Thursday evening he was left standing in pure astonishment after glimpsing what may have been life from another galaxy."

What had Peat seen which caused this gushing of words from the newspaper reporter? He simply reported seeing a bright blue flash of light in the sky. "It was travelling much like a shooting star but not as fast." It turned green and "...little specks of light started to trail behind it before it disintegrated." In my opinion, this has all the hallmarks of a "fireball." Note, that even Peat himself is cited in the article as saying "I now think it might have been a meteorite..."


"Meteor" is simply the name given to a piece of natural material burning up in the Earth's atmosphere. The word "meteor" is sometimes replaced with the words "falling star" or "shooting star." These three names refer to the same phenomenon. If you have ever seen a "meteor" in the night sky, you will know that it looks like a white coloured streak of light in the sky, for a fraction of a second. It appears, travels a short distance across the sky, and disappears.


A "fireball" is simply the name given to a bright "meteor," "shooting star" or "falling star." In astronomical terms, the name "fireball" is given to an object which is brighter than magnitude (an astronomical term for brightness) -4, which is about the brightest that the planet Venus gets. So, a "fireball" is a bright meteor.

A "bolide" is the name given to a "meteor" of brightness exceeding magnitude -14, which is brighter than the full Moon. If the brightness reaches -17 or brighter, it is given the name "superbolide." For comparison, on the magnitude scale the Sun is -26.

A "fireball" is more spectacular than most "meteors." It often leaves a very vivid impression, that often a witness fails to connect with the word "meteor." Note that the 17 January 2015 Bundaberg witness said what he saw was "travelling much like a shooting star but not as fast." Here he was initially implying that he thought that the object he was watching was not a "meteor."

On the 4 August 2014 a "fireball" was reported by hundreds of people living in Perth, Western Australia. It appeared as a blue-green light which travelled across the morning sky about 6am. One observer, Simon, stated that the "blue light descended relatively slowly." he said it lasted two to three seconds. It was photographed by the Australian Desert Fireball Network.

Australian websites such as that of Sydney Observatory ( click here) often carry reports which appear to be of "fireballs." For example,

January 06, 2015 at 9:00 pm, Michelle said:
Hi we live in Port Augusta South Australia and we were sitting outside around midnight and we saw a large light traveling roughly in an easterly direction which then quickly turned into a fire ball with a really large tail. It was traveling so fast we didn’t have time to record it as it dissapeared over the Flinders Ranges. No sound at all, clear starry sky and full moon. We haven’t heard of anyone locally that saw it but it blew us away because of the size and how spectacular it was!
January 03, 2015 at 11:24 pm, Vikkii said:
Just saw what I at first thought was a shooting star but it was super bright and travelled across the whole sky.
Spotted it from 30k south of yass and it went from NW to SE .
Beautiful clear sky tonight
Whatever it was it was very bright & had an amazing tail
January 03, 2015 at 1:07 am, Shirley said:
Around 20 min past midnight tonight (03/01/2015)a bright yellowish ball of fire appeared at the sky falling down easterly in quite a speed. Turning into red and appeared to explode and vanished. Never seen that before.

Information you need to know:

* "Fireballs" can be seen both at night and during the day

* They can develop two kinds of trails, namely trains and smoke trails. Smoke trails have been reported to last up to 45 minutes after the "fireball" has gone

* They can show vivid colours, ranging from red through to blue

* There are two types of reported sounds associated with them, namely sonic booms, and electrophonic sounds. The latter can be heard as hissing static, sizzling or popping sounds

* The natural material which was see as a "meteor" can range in size from a few grams up to 60 tons

* Pieces of material falling away from the parent body due to the atmospheric heat, may be reported as "sparks," "sparklers" or "little stars. " Note that the Bundaberg witness reported seeing "little specks of light started to trail behind..."

* the typical duration of a "fireball" sighting is 2-10 seconds, although there are reported observations lasting 30 seconds

* their trajectory across the sky can be from any direction to any other direction. However, they are sometimes reported to travel horizontally across the sky, perhaps even from horizon to horizon

* bright "fireballs" may be observed from a single Australian state, or sometimes they pass over a number of states.

In summary:

If you receive a UAP report which matches the descriptions given in this post, then strongly suspect that the cause is a "meteor" of some kind, possibly a "fireball." Often if you search the Internet you will then find other observations reported of that same UAP. With sufficient observations scattered over a wide enough are, it might be possible to triangulate the path of the "fireball."


1. Each Australian state has an astronomical society which welcomes reports of "fireballs."

3. The Australian Desert Fireball Network (click here)  has been successful in photographing fireballs and welcomes reports of such observations.

4. There are networks of Australian amateur astronomers who observe "meteors" including "fireballs" and who welcome reports.  One such network is the Eastern Australia Meteor Network (click here.)

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