Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 January 23

Peekskill Fireball Video: Johnstown
Credit: J. Derr (WWCP)

Explanation: The Peekskill meteor of 1992 was captured on 16 independent videos and then struck a car. Documented as brighter than the full Moon, the spectacular fireball crossed parts of several USA states during its 40 seconds of glory before landing in New York. A video of the fireball beyond a high school football game in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, USA, is pictured above. The resulting meteorite is imaged here, and was found to be composed of dense rock and has the size and mass of an extremely heavy bowling ball. If you are lucky enough to find a meteorite just after impact, do not pick it up -- parts of it are likely to be either very hot or very cold. Tracking meteors origins and destinations might be easier in this modern digital age, but many security cameras videos that likely caught a bright fireball are not preserved. If you would like to volunteer to help meteor science by locating images and videos of newly occurring fireballs within 48 hours after they occur, here is a place to sign up.

Students: See lectures on strange and cool physics
Tomorrow's picture: moon landing

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