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Meteor Spotted Yesterday Over Midwestern United States 163

Posted by timothy
from the now-look-for-meteorites dept.
the1337g33k writes "The National Weather Service is reporting that a fireball that many people witnessed last night is a meteor that entered the atmosphere last night around 10:10 pm Central Time. This meteor was spotted by many in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois."
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Meteor Spotted Yesterday Over Midwestern United States

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  • by Antidamage (1506489) * on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:10PM (#31865312) Homepage

    It wasn't an Autobot.

  • I thought (Score:3, Funny)

    by michaelhood (667393) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:11PM (#31865326)

    this was just GameStation coming to claim their recently acquired souls [slashdot.org]..

  • ...Thousands of people caught at awkward moments now traumatized for life.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:14PM (#31865368) Homepage Journal
    Just a hint to any slashdotters in that area, a few of my friends a couple years back watched a small meteor impact up near Sonora Pass in California. It was close by so they took a weekend and went camping up on the pass. They wandered about relatively aimlessly looking for any rocks that seemed odd or out of place. When they found a suspect, they used some magnets they had brought to see if it was ferrous. Eventually, they found one small chunk of rock (think size of your hand) that the magnet stuck to out of sheer luck. They brought it back, had it evaluated by someone (can't recall who, but someone at a nearby university), and ended up selling it for just over $1000 since it was, legitimately, a small chunk of the meteor. If any dotters have a taste for adventure and have a weekend to kill near the area that this impacted, you should go out and see what you can find. It might pay off.
    • by AnonymousClown (1788472) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:28PM (#31865568)
      Anyone else hear the Indiana Jones Theme after reading the parent?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by jd (1658)

      According to "Meteorite Men", the Geek version of Home Shopping Network, meteorite fragments are worth $20/gram as a basic value. If you get a big piece that has shape to it, you could expect more. Multiple fragments that fit together (where it fragmented in the atmosphere, not from a hammer) would also logically fetch more, as would rare types.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Why would you sell something like that?

      It's a once in a lifetime find (potentially) and i'd want to keep it on my shelf somewhere. It'd be a great coffee table piece.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by phizix (1143711)
      Part of the meteor trail was captured here [noaa.gov] by NWS weather radar. The end of this trail might be a good place to start.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Damn, and I just sold my magnets collection on eBay!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by JWSmythe (446288)

      There was a good show on this, I believe on the Discovery Channel. There's an art (and science) to searching debris fields. They had assembled a large loop to be a metal detector attached to a PVC pipe frame that they dragged behind their truck. If you know the direction it came in, and a likely impact site, you can start hunting. You have an advantage that you know at least one part of the debris field. I'd guess that area is mountainous, so a tow behind metal detector is probably out,

      • I'd guess that area is mountainous

        And I'm guessing that you've never been anywhere near Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa or Indiana
        • by JWSmythe (446288)

          What exactly would those places have to do with Sonora Pass in California? What I do know of California landscape is that there are vast areas of flat lands, and mountainous areas. I lived in a house on the outskirts of Los Angeles that if you stepped off the back porch, you were on a > 45 degree incline down a couple hundred feet. That was just a foothills area. Not far from there, you could drive up to 7,000 feet, and if you were to go very far off the road (5 to 50 feet), you'd find

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dachopigu (1791120)
      Was there a blob inside?
    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:33PM (#31866178)
      If you happen to find any glowing green crystals please do not sell them to an evil looking bald guy, however lucrative the offer may be.
    • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:39PM (#31866226) Journal

      If any dotters have a taste for adventure and have a weekend to kill near the area that this impacted, you should go out and see what you can find. It might pay off.

      FYI - Before you go wandering around the hillsides looking for rocks, keep in mind that anything you find properly belongs to the landowner.

      Proper rock hunters spend a lot of effort to get all the proper permissions for their searches.

  • An Identified Flying Object...FLEE!

  • by Torrance (1599681) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:19PM (#31865444)
    The CNN article states that the fireball was visible for about 15 minutes. That seems awfully long for a meteor.
    • by JWSmythe (446288)

          I just saw the video on TV a couple hours ago. I was joking that it wasn't a meteorite. There are distinct flashes that were its deceleration thrusters firing. :) I love starting conspiracy theories. :)

          For what I saw of it, CNN probably screwed up when they said 15 minutes. Otherwise, it would have spun half way around the world on its entry.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by rm999 (775449)

      Apparently 15 minutes: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/5614609-meteor-stands-still-for-15-minutes-in-iowa-pictures [allvoices.com]

      People of Iowa and neighboring cities were surprised by a meteor shower on Wednesday night. The fireball resembling meteor is captured in a picture by an Iowa resident - that is believed to be a part of the meteor shower. This meteor wasn't like a flash - it appeared at 10 p.m. and stayed there for good 15 minutes!

      According to the National Weather Service, the meteor was moving from we

      • by MartinSchou (1360093) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @09:11PM (#31867030)

        15 minutes is a looooong time. For how long would you be able to make out a jet air-liner?

        Since the meteor was making multiple sonic booms (realistically that's really bits breaking off and making their own booms), we're looking at a minimum of mach 1. That means it'll cover an absolute minimum distance of 306 km from the time it was first seen as standing still until it disappeared. Now, obviously the object needs to be at a fair distance already, for that to be the case. It can't start overhead, as that will mean it's moving.

        And how far can you really see?

        Also, 306 km is a HUGE distance. The smallest detail we can make out are about 1 arc minute. At 306 km that is 89 meters. Granted, it's glowing/burning, so that should help, but how much? 10 fold? Would you be able to make out a 9 meter fireball at 300 km?

        And I'm rather curious to know, just how far a meteor would actually travel during those 15 minutes.

      • Another thing ... where is the substantiating claims in that article? It's just some guy claiming it.

        There are no links to any other reports, no pictures to substantiate the claim, nothing.

        In other news, people in Iowa have seen purple flying pigs carrying off an SUV.

      • A couple of decades ago while travelling I saw a spectaculat shooting star. It was bright green and flashing erratically, and looked like it was going up instead of down.

        The next day the news reported that the Russians had jettisoned part of the MIR space station, which was apparently what the shooting star was. Must have been a lot of copper in it for it to be bright green like that.

    • by mbone (558574)

      If true, that's a "persistent train" and is caused by spectral lines from excited plasma recombining and going back into the ground state.

    • blows whistle to announce time-out

      Well, it certainly has been INteresting seeing all the speculation about what could cause a meteor to "stand still" for 15 minutes but, guyz, it's just typical badly-worded journalistic/blogish cluelessness. MOST fireballs leave persistant smoke trails in the sky and if the upper-level winds are quiet those trails can last a LONG time.
      Haven't any of you ever seen a meteor shower and caught sight of a fireball?? Any of you??? Anyone????

      Never mind. It was Eevil Republic
  • by andytrevino (943397) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:20PM (#31865456) Homepage

    Fox11 News in Milwaukee has a dramatic video [fox11online.com] of the meteor taken looking slightly north of west in downtown Milwaukee, WI.

    Any idea where it actually landed? DID it actually land -- or just burn up in the atmosphere?

    • by jd (1658) <imipak@nOSPam.yahoo.com> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:32PM (#31865596) Homepage Journal

      It landed, but was towed away for not having a parking permit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by phizix (1143711)
      And here [wisc.edu] is another great view of the fireball from Madison.
    • by Zzootnik (179922)

      I Saw it pretty clear here in Iowa City out the window to the North... if it was ALSO north of Wisconsin, My guess would by Canada... or the patrol officer didn't know which way North was-

    • I saw the meteor (Score:5, Informative)

      by cat_jesus (525334) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:06PM (#31865936)
      None of the video I've seen comes close to the spectacular sight. There was a huge tail of plasma and it was green, orange white with a hint of blue. It was huge and looked like it was close by.
      • by martas (1439879)
        <pedantic>i'm pretty sure that the tail was composed of normal gases and dust, not plasma. i'd think that the heat from the meteor would dissipate too quickly in the atmosphere to for a trail of plasma to be visible.</pedantic>
        • by mbone (558574)

          What you see is a plasma - the air (plus whatever is vaporized from the meteor itself) is both ionized (making a plasma) and disassociated (i.e., molecular bonds are broken). That's why it conducts, so in the radio is a good reflector (of radar) and is opaque (causing a communications blackout for reentering spacecraft).The colored tails (AKA persistent trains) that are reported (and can last a long time, as apparently happened with this one) are spectral lines emitted from gas combining back into molecul

      • Yes I had just walked out onto my deck and was in shock for several seconds not understanding what I was quite seeing at first. It was huge, and from it's speed I could tell it was still at least several hundred miles away from me.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by g00set (559637)
      The video clearly gives "balanced coverage" (poke at the advertisement) of the meteor event. Not sure how to describe the looping ;)
  • "That's no fireball!"

  • "This isn't a meteor, it's what we call a 'Boeing Bomb'. You see this peanut?"
  • Planetary defense (Score:3, Interesting)

    by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:28PM (#31865550) Homepage Journal

    One day we'll be able to predict events like this. You'll see something in the sky, go to a website, or pull up an app on your smart phone, and it'll have a designation based on when it was first detected and the flight path that object took to hit the atmosphere. Maybe the website will look something like this [nasa.gov], but hopefully not ;) Tracking small rocks like this might seem like a waste of time, until we predict one that is going to hit a major populated area - lives could be saved. This would be a side-benefit of the real purpose of the program - detecting planet killer sized hazards and preparing for the day when we need to divert one. The economic benefits of capturing asteroids in orbit and utilizing the materials should also be considerable.

    • by andcal (196136)

      Tracking small rocks like this might seem like a waste of time, until we predict one that is going to hit a major populated area - lives could be saved.

      I don't know, It's one thing to know when a small rock will hit the earth, and another thing to predict where it will hit within a few miles. And then yet another thing entirely to know where to send all of the evacuees. It it looks like it will hit Dallas, do we completely evacuate the whole metroplex? And how far do they go? If you are not careful, it may

  • by TechwoIf (1004763) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @06:49PM (#31865760) Homepage
    I was on my way home last night very late, around 11pm and saw a meter streak about 1/4 the way across the sky. Normally I see them flash a white streak across the sky and burn up quickly, but this one stayed non-white burning stage for a long time and rather slow across the sky. I lost sight of it near the horizon and wonder if that one hit the ground. My location was south central west Indiana and looking east.
  • Pieces will be found (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:34PM (#31866184)

    I would bet that pieces will be found of the meteor. FIrst, the orbit / path will be well known, with so many multiple videos of it from different locations.

    Second, astronomer Mark Hammergren, of the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, predicts that it may have weighed as much as 1000 pounds [nationalgeographic.com].

    "One of the misconceptions about bright meteors is that they're due to very tiny objects," said Hammergren. But "if something is bright enough to light up the sky like daytime and cause sonic booms throughout the entire area, it's big. It was major," he said. "If it was daytime, people would have undoubtedly seen smoke trails."

    I think that this is very sound reasoning. Happy hunting to rockhounds in Wisconsin !

    Now, why do we never get such multiple confirmations of UFOs ?

    • Now, why do we never get such multiple confirmations of UFOs ?

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephenville,_Texas#2008_UFO_sightings [wikipedia.org]

  • Lost Child (Score:5, Funny)

    by Strange Ranger (454494) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @07:39PM (#31866228)
    Please Help. My wife and I live in that area. Last night we were out past our usual time and we found a young boy. He was wandering out in the cold all by himself.
    We've talked to the appropriate authorities, but we know we need to get the word out as much as possible. The doctors say he's fine, but he hasn't spoken a word yet.
    Please take a look at his picture [mylifetime.com] and call your local authorities if you have any information at all. We are desperate to find out who he is.
    If nobody can legitimately claim him, we would be so blessed if we could adopt him. For now, Martha and I have taken to calling him Clark. Thanks.
  • As a Californian, all the Midwest looks alike to me. Is there a Smallville anywhere near the meteor's GZ?

  • Spy Satellite. Duh! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rdmiller3 (29465) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @08:02PM (#31866450) Journal

    This doesn't make sense for a "meteor". The atmosphere is less than 200 miles thick, and the chance that a meteorite will skim across that relatively thin layer of atmosphere long enough to be sited along a 700-mile path over multiple states is infinitesimal. Multiply that by the tiny fractional probability that it would have enough mass to burn that long and the odds look impossible.

    More likely, this was a massive satellite in near earth orbit. That's really the only reasonable thing which would match the observations.

    So, since it's not being reported as a satellite it's probably a secret satellite. We already know that NASA launches classified payloads. It's safe to assume that other countries do too. Stealth technology would be simple, just build it with flat metal sides painted black and power it with a self-contained reactor (and there's your mass).

    • by mbone (558574) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @08:34PM (#31866726)

      The orbit of this will be found very quickly - probably within 24 hours. That will rule in or out whether it was in Earth orbit.

      Note that

      - there are orbits for all satellites bigger than a few kilograms, secret or no. It's hard to hide up there and

      - there have been number of multi-state [space.com] meteors in the past. This, if a meteor, would not be very unusual.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ErikZ (55491) *

      The atmosphere is less than 200 miles thick, and the chance that a meteorite will skim across that relatively thin layer of atmosphere long enough to be sited along a 700-mile path over multiple states is infinitesimal.

      One might say that the odds were...astronomical.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      The path doesn't have to be 700 miles long to be visible over 700 miles of ground. An apparently stationary object 200 miles up will only be overhead of a single point on the ground, but will be 45 degrees or higher above the horizon for about 700 miles in every direction. This thing could've exploded in place and been visible over as long a track.

  • I thought there were at least a couple groups scanning the skies looking for the next armageddon-variety meteor headed our way? Wouldn't we expect to have seen a big thing like this coming? Granted, probably not enough to be a biosphere-killer, but still would make a mess of a city if it hit, or of possibly several if it hit water and did the tsunami thing.

    • by u38cg (607297)
      The problem with asteroid hunting is that something big enough to do serious damage is not actually very big, in real terms. Think the size of a big house, not a small moon. There are millions of these things zipping around in various directions and for each one, you have to compute their orbits, our orbit, and decide if they coincide at any point. Although we know how to do all this, there's just huge amounts of it to do and it's difficult to convince anyoen to give you enough funding to make a worthwhi
  • Seriously, is this something NASA knows about?
    If not, why not?
    They should be able to give us a heads up about anything that enters our atmosphere from space so it can be tracked/viewed/enjoyed etc.
    I'm sure the science on the shuttles are valuable, but what about stuff that's flying at our planet, and I don't just mean the belt of pollution in earth's orbit consisting of dangerous (to the space station/satellites etc) space trash.
    Or is this stuff too fast/small/frequent/random to track?
    • Most of these things are too small to have been found by scientists. They've done a good job over the last few years finding most of the big ones (1 km diameter - stuff that'd wipe out the planet) but there are still plenty of smaller ones that they have no idea about. Most of them, in fact. I believe the only one that's ever been known in advance of its impact was in Sudan last year. And that was only known a day or so in advance.

      Devon

  • ... lighting up the sky ... Tunguska event, like . . . see tmz.com for details . . .

  • They just interrupted the Mercury Theater [wikipedia.org] radio program with further news about the sighting.
  • I live in Madison. My wife and I saw flashes of light out the window and figured it was distant lightning. Seeing the video now is cool. I definitely saw those bold flashes of light. I wish I'd known what it was, I would have gone for a better look.

  • Hmm, sighted over California? It must be the second coming of Xenu.
  • I wonder if it could be a piece of debris from the asteroid that made a close pass to Earth [scientificamerican.com] about a week ago, in a spiral orbit since then. Just because it made a big light show doesn't mean the material was huge. The piece of debris could have started out the size of a softball, and (if it made it to the ground at all) could have been smaller than the size of a pea upon impact.

    • by LanMan04 (790429)

      I don't know that something the size of a softball would make those long sonic booms that were heard over such a large area.

      Someone quoted a guy from Adler Planetarium estimating that is was 1000 lbs or so based on various factors.

  • I was on my way back to Chicago Midway on a Southwest flight when I saw this outside my window seat. We were traveling east and it was several miles to our north, but impressive nonetheless. From my perspective, it was looked a lot like pictures you always see of comets. For the few seconds I was able to see it, it was burning white hot and got more intense just before it broke up into 3 pieces and quickly disappeared from site.

    I'm not sure what it was, but it made for a fantastic show!

The key elements in human thinking are not numbers but labels of fuzzy sets. -- L. Zadeh

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