December 10, 2012
Texas Fireball, A Sign Of The End Of Days?
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
As the end of the world starts to close in on December 21, new footage has emerged of a fireball flying over the Texas sky.
Some worry that as the Mayan calendar winds down, that an asteroid may collide with the Earth, effectively putting an end to our reign on this planet. Scientists have helped put an end to all theories about the end of the world in the coming weeks, but footage from a NASA camera may be kickstarting a whole new realm of worry.
The footage from NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office in New Mexico shows a meteor streaking across the sky in Texas. Although the timing for the footage is oddly close to the December 21st Mayan calendar countdown, it is actually closer to this week's Geminid meteor shower.
NASA said the meteor entered Earth's atmosphere somewhere between Dallas and Houston, and was seen as far away as Louisiana.
The space agency believes the meteor was only about the size of a basketball, but its loud boom and trail of green in the sky made onlookers believe it to be bigger than that.
Mike Hankey, from the American Meteor Society, said that a meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short distance. Most meteors that will be seen in the upcoming Geminid shower this weekend will be just the size of small pebbles.
Although its close proximity to the Geminid meteor shower makes one believe that it is just a preview, NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said it is most likely a fragment from the asteroid belt, and not associated with the Geminid meteor shower at all.
While seeing this fireball around this time of the year may seem like an awfully big coincidence to not be associated with this weekend's meteor shower, or next weekend's world ending date, the atmospheric events are actually more common than one might believe.
Fireballs are so common, in fact, that NASA has even set up an "All-sky Fireball Network" of cameras in the U.S., with the goal of observing meteors brighter than the planet Venus.
This network consists of eight cameras, six of which are in locations in north Alabama, north Georgia, southern Tennessee and southern North Carolina. NASA also has a couple set up in New Mexico, one of which caught footage of the Texas fireball from 500 miles away.
The cameras in the networks are set up with overlapping views, giving scientists a few different perspectives of the fireballs as they enter the Earth's atmosphere. NASA has plans to grow the network to a total of 15 cameras.