California fireball has witnesses alight with excitement

fireballcaA meteor that toured the Southwest’s big skies on Monday has witnesses alight with excitement about the fireball’s bold show of light and color. Astronomers said that the meteor is from the South Taurids meteor shower, which is visible from Earth around Halloween each year.

On Nov. 6, The American Meteor Society recorded 156 fireball sightings from Arizona, California, Nevada, andUtah, most of them from between 7 and 9 pm, PST, the organization said.

On the organization’s public log of “fireball” sightings, witnesses described a meteor that lit up the evening skies and ground with bright flashes of blue, red, and white light. Witness reported that the meteor was in brightness, size, and, for a moment, apocalyptic drama, unlike any other meteor to cruise their skies.

“[It] was a very disturbing event to observe as it was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced,” said one witness, Katie R., from Stevenson Ranch, California.

“It almost looked like an actual fire in the sky,” said a witness from Ceres, California.

“It was an amazing sight,” said another, from Phoenix, Arizona, “not the average shooting star.”

The North American Aerospace Defense Command weather department told CNN that, chances are, Southwestern stargazers saw a meteor from the South Taurids meteor shower.

A green flame can occur in the presence of copper … or just carbon molecules.

Many molecules, when pumped up to high energies, emit some of that energy as visible light. … The cause of the colors of green and blue flames are molecular emissions known as Swan Bands. The first stage in pyrolysis is to break complex molecules into simpler, usually electrically charged fragments known as radicals (Detecting radicals is how smoke alarms work. That’s why they occasionally give false alarms from excessive humidity or other causes). One of the most common radicals consists of two carbon atoms with the formula C2. The carbon atoms in the C2 molecule merge some of their orbitals to create molecular orbitals. C2 molecules in a flame, given energy by the heat of the flame, emit radiation at definite frequencies. The emission comes not from electrons around a single carbon atom, like a copper flame is due to individual atoms, but to the energy levels in the molecular orbitals. These frequencies occupy bands of the spectrum from orange to blue but become progressively stronger in the green and blue. …

Tonight might be a good night to sit under the stars.

Los Angelinos have reported seeing large streaks of light across the sky on Wednesday night. Residents reported seeing a fiery meteor that cast a greenish haze and broke apart. Scientists report that meteor showers are common this time of year, but that we haven’t seen anything yet. Taurid meteor showers will reach their peak on November 16th and 17th and observers will reportedly be able to view 10 to 20 large fireballs each hour.

KCAL9 spoke to Dr. Laura Danly, a curator at the Griffith Observatory who said, “They’re flying into the Earth’s atmosphere and they’re burning up. It’s kind of like when astronauts return to the Earth’s atmosphere and there is all that heat during re-entry. Same idea. These rocks are literally burning up. And that’s what you’re seeing.”

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