Strange Clanfield Fireball 2013

Fireball date: 10 January 2013 at 04:59:45 UT

Fireball ID: M20130110_045945

Strange Clanfield Fireball 2013

Clanfield Hampshire Astronomy Group joined UKMON in August 2012, with a two camera installation.

During processing of data for January, 2013, we found a beautiful fireball, but we were puzzled by the apparent slow speed; surely, this had to be a satellite re-entry. The team who looked at it (Steve Bosley, Steve Broadbent, David Harris, Graham Bryant and Peta Bosley) tried to identify a candidate satellite, without any success, so we parked it as one that got away ;-)

This year, Carlos Augusto di Pietro (from Brazil) posted to the EDMONd (European viDeo Meteor Observation Network) Facebook page, concerning 2 fireballs over Saudi Arabia that were evaluated by Ted Molczan as re-entry stage of the rocket launcher (NORAD 33052) of Chinasat-9.

This prompted me to comment on our 2013 fireball and Carlos, also a satellite watcher like Ted, offered to help identify it. By providing our station co-ordinates and exact time of capture, Carlos could run a simulation and check the satellite/space junk re-entry database of USSTRATCOM.

Unfortunately, the only re-entry around that date was of a Fengyun fragment and it was too small to produce a fireball of this magnitude. So, whatever we captured, it was a natural body!

Strange Clanfield Fireball 2013

Individual frames showing fragmentation of the object during its passage through the Earth’s atmosphere

We didn’t get the result we hoped for, but did manage to initiate an inter-continental cross-check.