Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Fireball in The Sky

So I was out trying to image another Sunset when out of the blue a fireball appeared. To give you some idea of how rare these fireballs are, a trained observer, such as moi, can expect to be treated to one, once every 200 observing hours, factor in that it was a daytime fireball, more rare, also factor in the fact it was close to the Sun, more rare again and....catch breath... the fact that I had a focused camera ready to go, and that I would actually capture an image just after the break up with an image of the fragments, the chances of this happening, well, it boggles the mind just thinking of it, well it boggles my mind, mind you I'm easily boggled.

I get home to process the images to see what I've got, cropped and enlarged the images, turned out quite good actually, something like NASA might have on CNN, well maybe not NASA.. or CNN, but you get the idea.

Fireballs come from a group of particles bigger then the usual specks of dust grains that cause your average meteor shower. They are caused by objects the size of pebbles people, unbelievable, but because of the high rate of speed they hit our atmosphere, up to 160,000 mph they create quite a show. Daytime fireballs usually have smoke trails which start at about 50 miles altitude, they usually burn out around 9-12 miles high. It is very rare that any of the meteoroid reaches the ground to become a meteorite because of something called Ablation, which is when the outer layers of the meteoroid continually vaporize due to the high speed collision with air molecules.

Just a reminder May 1st. Mercury and the Pleiades meet low in the NW. sky 45 mins after Sunset

I'll leave you now with an animated gif of my unbroke fireball.


Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Bob,

"To give you some idea of how rare these fireballs are, a trained observer, such as MOI, can expect to be treated to one, once every 200 observing hours..."

To think that a trained observer such as moo can see a fireball every 200 observing hours is astounding to me as I have never seen one at all. This is a phenomena I have never even heard of, let alone saw in person. I learn something new every time i come here. Great stuff, Bob. If moi must say so moi-self lol. Thanks again, I enjoyed reading this and I have another reason to scan the skies. Bob.

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Awesome post, Bob. I had no idea about fireballs either but think I saw one a few years ago when I came home from kidney stone surgery. Couldn't figure out what it was then and it was at night.

Super post and photos!!! WOOT!!! Bet you have an alien visit soon. :D

Hugs, JJ

Marvin the Martian said...

Amazing! I have seen many meteors at night, but never in the daytime. And never with a camera handy. You hit the jackpot! Awesome! Congratulations!

sky said...

Namaste' dear Bob! your site simply ROCKS and is fascinating, even more so cause I know your only an hour and some away and taking these pics in sask. *grin* ;0)

These photos are breathtaking Bob, utterly so. I hope one of my comments can finally go through cause I have tried previously to comment I read your site and am a fan!


sky said...

YAY YAY one went through!!!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Mike, I'm so happy you like to learn this stuff, makes me feel I'm giving a little back of what God has given me, a love of the grand universe.:D :-D

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks JJ, you probably did see a fireball, too bad you didn't have a camera with you at the time, congrats on the new camera and the publishing deal!! \m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks marvin the martian, the right place at the right time and the right equipment, feel very lucky to say the least.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Hey sky glad you like the pics, I know what you mean I've been having trouble all night posting comments, really sucks when you do a long one and it doesn't go, glad you got one through, great to hear from you.

Will said...

If I had seen that I would have been calling 911... or Cosat2CoastAM. :-0

I can't believe all the stuff you photograph for us in the sky, Bob. Thanks!

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Will, no problem, love taking pictures, satisfying to be able to capture more of the rare and elusive stuff

Peter said...

Hi! Out of this world photographs, well done. As we say in Downunder with our cricket, "Top Shot".

Just curious, do you have any idea where it landed? Lastly good luck with your trip to Kalowna BC!

Take Care,

Julie said...

Wow and wow again that you got the capture in that stunning context...
blow that one up and frame it??

Off track, but I read a post some time ago about lightening balls as an atmospheric phenomenon - unusual conditions cause lightening to make a globe rather than a flash?

gt281 said...

Stop trying to cover up for the fact that Marvin the Martian’s departing ‘dad’ was shot down by the USAF… thank goodness…
I hope the other four were also shot down…
Otherwise the invasion might be well on its way…

Do you ever sleep?......
I see it’s a balmy 7c in Saskatoon,, must be time
to break out the t-shirts and shorts……..

1st Lady said...

I had no idea there were actually fireballs that one could see (if lucky enough). How exciting for you. You're first image also shows 4 UFO's, that's quite exciting too... ;)

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Peter, probably wouldn't be anything left of it to land, but who knows, I'm thinking it was bigger then your average fireball, being it was very bright, dare I say -10 mag or higher, which just means very bright in astronomy lingo. But it probably was only 10 miles altitude or so when it stopped, so who knows, something may have reached the surface.\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Julie, you are right there is such a phenomenon, now that would be a cool image.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

lol gt281, you crack me up, Do you know we had like +20c here yesterday, it is so nice not to have to wear gloves when taking pics,to actually feel the shutter button instead of guess.lol\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol 1st. lady, there was some images I took that had like 20 of those UFO's, very scary, but I kept on going must take more pics, over 5,000 images since December last year.:greenalien:

Oswegan said...

That's awesome Bob. Thanks for sharing. Now I won't have to get trained and spend 200 hours looking at the sky. Those are some great images. I put a star twist on my post today, but nothing to rival your amazing knowledge.

Poetikat said...

Bob, I'm with Mr. Grudge on this - I have never even heard of this phenom.
You must have been beside yourself with excitement! So cool, that you had everything there to capture it. You could say, the stars were aligned. Lucky you!


Lynda Lehmann said...

Fascinating! Another lucky capture for you...partly due to your knowing what to look for in the skies.

It's good to be easily mind-boggled, Bob. It means you are still young-at-heart! :)

Sherer said...

WoW! that fireball blows my mind brother! Amazing catch indeed. \m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks oswegan, Love your Big Dipper, very cool.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks poetikat, I was beside myself, actually couldn't believe it was happening, very cool, \m/ :D :-D

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Lynda, mostly luck here,lol, who would have thought I'd capture my very first fireball by taking a pic of a Sunset,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks sherer, blew my mind too.lol.\m/\m/

Drowsey Monkey said...

Un-freaking-believable! That is the coolest thing I've ever seen. I never even knew such a thing existed.

Roger said...

Wow!!!!!!!!!!! Great catch on that fireball my man!!

AngelBaby said...

Wow, I love that picture. Not only the fireball but the sunset is amazing. This is my first fireball experience. I didn't even know there was such a thing before tonight. I learn so much on your site. I love that picture, I just can't get over the sunset or the fireball. Thank you for sharing this.

Love and Blessings,

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Drowsey, They are quite something for sure, I am surprise that not many people have heard of them before, cool, now you know, the next time you see a jet in the sky, think twice, might be a fireball.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Roger, again right place at the right time.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks AngelBaby, oh yeah, forgot all about the Sunset, it was a great one, beautiful colors, thanks for noticing.\m/\m/

Swubird said...


Wow! What a treat to for you to capture an actual fireball. And like you said, everything came together perfectly. This is a treasure of a lifetime.

I don't think I've ever even seen a fireball. At least not one that I recognized as such. If I had, I probably would have thought it to be something else.

Great shot Bob. Again you prove to be the man when it comes to amateur astronomy.

Happy stargazing.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, I've only seen one before during the night, the fact I got an image of a daytime fireball is pretty cool.

shirley said...

That is so cool! Talk about being in the right place at the right time! Way to go!

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Shirley, you got that right!\m/\m/

g-man said...

wow, amazing read...i had no idea fireballs would be visible during daytime. i've never seen one yet. the day a meteor shower was supposed to hit, i fell asleep too early :|

nice blog!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks g-man, lol,too bad about falling asleep, there's always the next one may 5th.\m/\m/

Max said...


Wow! You were lucky man!!! Loved the image, I had never seen a fireball so this was quite an event for me!

It is not like I wish to massage your ego nor anything; but you were a bit right: the image was like the ones we watch on CNN...gorgeous!
So, the size of pebbles, huh? Thank God the layers decrease in contact with air particles otherwise can you imagine one of those things falling on somebody's head? Tragedy!

This was a most interesting post, my friend. I would like to surf around your blog more but today I lack the time (sorry)!

So I wish you a great weekend, Bob (for you and your family)!


Bob Johnson said...

lol, thanks for massaging the old ego max, have a great weekend too, don't forget, even though you had a bad experience with meteor showers before, you just never know, there is one 4 am Monday morning.\m/\m/

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob;

WOW what an image!!!

It’s a good thing we all send you out on assignment on our behalf…When I read your article and came to “moi” I thought maybe you were going to start blogging in two languages like Max… LOL

Bob for us you are NASA and CNN, do you think you could also do some FOX?

As you being bilingual for this article I will translate your words about what a fireball is….a space dust bunny hits the atmosphere and goes boom….

Joking aside Bob very interesting information provided in an entertaining way…

“Now lets go to the official CNN photo journalist on the scene, here is Bob”…

…“Thanks Wolf you are not going to believe this…”

…“Bob that is an amazing ICBM gif we certainly should give you more time here at CNN”….

Bob Johnson said...

Lol livingsword, I start all my comment replies to you like that, you are too funny, ICBM , cool , thats what it looks like,lol.

Bilingual? It takes me for ever to do posts in English let alone French,lol.\m/\m/

Rose DesRochers said...

Wow Bob. That's simply amazing.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Rose!:D :-D

Anna said...

Bob this is amazing. You are so lucky to have such a open space to work with. Your sunset image is stunning. Just watch out for those fire balls, lol, may be it is time to get the constructions hard hat, lol. Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks Anna, hey I do have a hard hat at work, should probably consider using it,lol, so gald to see you back!!\m/\m/

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