Bad Astronomy

Texas Fireball update: the video

Video of the Texas fireball has turned up on YouTube, and all I have to ask is what took so long?

Watching it again makes it even more clear to me that this was an asteroid fragment a meter or so across (probably less) and not part of the debris cloud from the satellites. It’s simply moving too quickly.

I wonder if we’ll see any more video of it? 20 years ago, shots like this were incredibly rare, but they’re getting more common. Meteors are far easier to see at night – of course, since intrinsically fainter ones are easier to see against a dark background – and so we get them on bank security cameras, parking lot cams, and so on. But during the day it’s a lot tougher, since only the relatively rare very bright fireball gets spotted.

So this may be the only video we get… but I will make you an absolute rock-solid guarantee: as time goes on, we’ll get more video of such events. More and more people have video cameras, and I hear that the next-gen iPhone will have video. In five years half the planet will be walking around with what are essentially scientific tools. With video, plus geolocation provided by real-time GPS in phones, we’ll be able to determine accurate orbits of bolides like this one. I wonder what we’ll learn from that?