Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014


Fireball date: 15 February 2014 at 18:30:20 UT

Fireball ID: M20140215_183020


Three UKMON cameras captured fireball event on 15 February 2014 at 18:30:20; this fireball was also reported by members of public and by all accounts it was a spectacular sight.  Unfortunately for us, our cameras only managed to record a partial track.

Let’s look at  what our cameras recorded

We were first alerted to this interesting fireball event by the Norman Locker S.P.A.M. Group based at the Norman Lockyer Observatory station:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

Clanfield station

The Clanfield station camera also detected this fireball, appearing on the extreme right-hand side of the field of view, but this was enough to give us an overview of the length of the event:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

Similarly the Wilcot station captured the beginning of the event:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

Our thanks too to Damian Peach who sent us his visual observing report:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

We also flagged this fireball on Bayfordbury AllSky Camera.  A full trail was proving to be elusive as even in this all-sky image it is visible only at the bottom centre of the image:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

Analysis:

This fireball was classified as ‘sporadic’; in other words it does not belong to any known meteor shower.  It was also a slow entry (slow for a meteor): traveling at a speed of 16.3 km/s it started to burn up in the atmosphere at an altitude of 86.3km.   The full event lasted 4.4 seconds and UKMON cameras recorded 3.16 seconds. During this period meteor covered distance of 47.7km.   Its deceleration was calculated as 1.2 km/s2.   Its heliocentric speed 39.7km/s.

Our cameras recorded only about 60% of the full trail of the meteor, and down to an altitude of 42.8 km.   If we assume constant deceleration then the estimated end of the ablation is at an altitude of around 25 km.  This altitude is low enough for some debris to fall.

There were two recorded explosions.  Unfortunately the last one was not shown on our video but explosions at the end of the trail usually indicate a very dense asteroid composition.

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

We are working with our partnering networks in France in the hope that more recordings will be found which will help us to calculate a more complete trail of this fireball.

Using UKMON developed software, here you can see the projected trajectory presented using Google Maps:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

Videos and public reports:

Richard Fleet’s video:

Fireball 15th February 2014 from Richard Fleet on Vimeo.

Video from Norman Lockyer Observatory, Sidmouth:

Wheels on the Bike recorded this fireball while riding a bike:

Credits

Our thanks to European colleagues from EDMON network for their help with the analysis of this fireball event.

Update:

The amazing image sent to us by Justin Whitaker has provided us with important additional information. It has extended our view of the fireball’s trail and has added approximately 0.8 seconds of event time which had not been captured by UKMON cameras. Justin also recorded a second, larger explosion and using his image we now estimate that the fireball’s brightness grew from -3.7 to as bright as approximately -9.1. It’s terminal altitude is now estimated be about 30km.

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

This analysis shows that photographic and visual reports still have a very important role in the recording and analysis of meteors and fireballs.

Light curve analysis:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

Combined ground map trail including Justin’s image showing full path of the fireball trail:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014

And final orbit calculation:

Fireball spotted over England on 15 February 2014