MOST RECENT POSTS

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Monday, 23 November 2020

FIREBALL: A ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Experience.


 


Sketch of Fireball based on
Photo taken by Kees H, 
 Kattendijke Zeeland, NL. North East of Brussels.
Kees’ (more dramatic) photo can be found at

 

FIREBALL: A ‘Once in a Lifetime’ Experience.

 

On Thursday 24th September this year, we were on holiday in Orford, just North of Woodbridge in Suffolk UK. It was just after 3am and from the window in the attic bedroom of the rented house, the stars were a glorious sight. Whenever I look out on a clear sky, I always wonder whether there just might be a chance of seeing a meteorite. Shooting stars are visible on most clear nights but one has to be looking at just the right moment, they are literally over in a flash and most give the appearance of just a thin line of light across the sky lasting for just moments. We have particularly watched for these on any clear nights on 12th August. On that night and for a few days either side of 12th every year there are meteor showers known as the Perseid showers. In a good year, when there are no clouds and the moon is low or out of sight, around 100 meteorites per hour can be seen. Some are bright, some have colour and some are accompanied by a faint noise. When I say we have watched for these shooting stars, we have watched on Dartmoor, on the roof of our narrow boat (when we had it), from dark beaches and dark gardens but we have never seen anything like the meteorite on 24thSeptember. This shooting star was, I realised, a ‘fireball’. It was such a spectacle that I put in a report to the UK Meteor Network which I found the following morning on the web. A second quite remarkable aspect of this event was that being in an unfamiliar bedroom, I was using my mobile phone to guide me as I moved round the bedroom, so I was able to report the time with unexpected accuracy.

 

At that point, I did not find the note on the site, which records all such reports, that fireball sightings are ‘once in a lifetime’ events. Because all I got from the site was an  eMail giving the sighting a reference number, I came near to wondering whether I had imagined the incident. I recorded the reference number, filed it on my desktop and more-or-less forgot it.

 

Then, I was doing a bit of much-needed tidying of my desktop in mid-November and was about to bin the reference number. Before doing that I thought I’d check the site out. I was amazed! The fireball was observed by six other people: two in Holland, three in Belgium and two in England. Four of those people put the timing at precisely the same moment, 03.07am in England, 04.07 in The Netherlands and 04.07 in Belgium. Four of the records, including mine, estimated the event at about 3.5 seconds long. And what was most delightful about discovering that others had seen the fireball was that one of them from Holland. Kees H of had managed to capture it on his/her camera and the photo was incorporated into the report. That is the picture shown above and accords very well with my sighting. Comprehensive details can be found on the web at https://ukmon.imo.net/imo_view/event/2020/5351 The map of the sightings is excellently displayed and shows a calculated path for the 3.5 second journey of the piece of space rock which probably entered the atmosphere between Brussels and Ghent and flared out above the North Sea somewhat to the East of Orford. That is a shame because the residual rock or bolide will be lost in the depths of the North Sea. However, the contra to that is that had it made landfall, it could have done a very considerable amount of damage – so on balance, maybe the sea was the better option!

 

If you look at the details in the reports, you will see that two of the timings are not particularly near the others. This is easily explained. It was the purest chance that I had my phone in my hand. Had I simply seen the event in a half-awake state (which could easily have happened!) I would have been left to guess the time: another observer might only have become aware that there is a site to report such incidents, maybe after a conversation with someone, possibly one or two days later. In such a circumstance one would be left guessing the time, so the discrepancies are not that surprising.

 

The website information also includes estimates of the brightness of the fireball. Because of the existence of the unexpected photograph, I realise that I substantially underestimated its brightness or magnitude: I equated it to the full moon in my report, a magnitude of -13 (the higher the negative number, the brighter the object). All but two others estimated it far brighter than I did: I think now, they were much better estimates (-16: -19: -18: -19). It was undoubtedly the brightest object I have ever seen in the night sky so my estimate was very much on the conservative side.

 

But for all the detail, I give thanks for that once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into one of the rarely seen marvels of God’s exquisite creation.

 

PS. I assume the dotted line in the photo to be the navigation light of a plane.

  

 

 


Cascade of Stars and Gas (Imagined image: CGI)

Cascade of Stars and Gas (Imagined image: CGI)
Cascade of Stars and Gases. This image will take you to the meditation 'Deep Silence'

Wildfires: Evidence of Climate Chaos

Wildfires: Evidence of Climate Chaos
Wildfires: Evidence of Climate Chaos

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)

Butterfly Nebula (CGI)
The Imaginary Butterfly Nebula . Anything like this would be a real Curiosity! The image will link you to the reflection titled 'Curiosity' which is actually a celebration of the achievement of landing the Mars Rover of that name

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe

Ten thousand billion suns - A scintilla of God’s Universe
It is currently thought that the Universe has at least 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars! Hence the use of the word ‘scintilla’ for a mere ten thousand billion.

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)

Cross and Particle Accelerator (CGI)
Cross and Particle Accelerator. The words of 'A Prayer for Understanding' can be viewed by clicking on this image

Nebula (Embroidery)

Nebula (Embroidery)
Nebula (Embroidery) to accompany the poem 'Invitation' which can be found by clicking on the image.

Nativity Star (CGI)

Nativity Star (CGI)
Nativity Star: This image will link you to the collection of new Carols on this site. Also, the image can easily be copied onto an overhead acetate and used as a window decoration. Easy for children to achieve. Note the cross at the centre of the star.

Orange Galaxy

Orange Galaxy
'Orange Galaxy' posted to accompany 'Bounded and Boundless'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth

Cosmic Ikon 8 Moth
Cosmic Ikon 8: Moth Nebula(imagined-acrylic) The Gold field of deep space is intended to convey the Lordship of Christ over the whole of the Cosmos

Surprise garden rose (Photo)

Surprise garden rose (Photo)
This beautiful head of roses in our garden, which are giving off a delightful perfume in the morning sun, seems a fitting picture to link to the sonnet 'Evolution and Beauty'. Let the picture take you there. It is a surprise because it is growing high on a bush of otherwise pure yellow roses: amazing!

Cross and Vortex

Cross and Vortex
'Cross and Vortex' to accompany 'Stars and Planets Sing Your Glory'. Click on the image to go to the poem/hymn.

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)

Gaseous Cosmic Threads (Mixed media)
Gaseous Cosmic Threads: Mixed media - acrylics and painted threads

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)

St Francis’ Sky (Photo)
Warm Umbrian Hills: Click image to take you to the poem St Francis' Sky

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower

Cosmic Icon 7 Summerflower
Cosmic Icon 7 - Summerflower Nebula (Acrylic)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)

Cosmic Labyrinth (CGI)
'Cosmic Labyrinth' - This icon is a symbol of the path through the near reaches of the Cosmos with its 'Havens' where current advances in science (2012/13) are celebrated. By clicking on the picture you will be taken to the latest version of the poem of the same name.

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)

Cross of Autumn Leaves (cropped Photo)
Time, perhaps to consider a restorative break before the approach of Advent/ Christmas. Let this image take you to 'On Drawing Apart'.

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)

IONA: The Marble Quarry (Photo)
On the South shore of Iona is a bay which shows the industrial scarring of a beautiful place. Read of it by clicking on the picture

Celtic cross candle (Photo)

Celtic cross candle (Photo)
Celtic Cross and candle' linked to the poem 'Awesome, Wonderful Creator'. Go to the poem by clicking on the image.

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)

Light of the World amidst stars (CGI)
'Light of the world' posted to accompany 'To Light'. Find the poem by clicking on the image.

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)

Iona from Fionnphort (Watercolour)
Iona from Fionnphort. At this point of the Isle of Mull, the end of a pilgrimage or trip to Iona is in sight. Click on this picture to take you to the poem 'IONA - The Pilgrim Way'

My Mesh Mask for Radiotherapy

My Mesh Mask for Radiotherapy
This is the mask which was moulded to my face to ensure the radiotherapy I had in April 2017 was precisely targeted. You can read more by clicking on the image

Double Celebration

Double Celebration
Pam, who has been magnificent in caring for me since my Cancer diagnosis in October and I celebrate the end of Radiotherapy and our 36th Wedding Anniversary (Note the return of some hair!). Click on the image to read about the treatment - and waiting.

St Neots Sunset (Photo)

St Neots Sunset (Photo)
Surrounded by beauty: Whie 'Evolution and Beauty' became one of the most viewed poems on this blog, Pam, my wife took this gorgeous picture of a sunset over the flatlands of Cambridgeshire UK. Click on it to go to the poem

Gabriel - written/painted by Pam, my wife in 2015

Gabriel - written/painted by Pam, my wife in 2015
Gabriel began the Christmas story with his visit to Mary. The story is told in our Christmas collection in the Carol, Go to Nazareth My Great Messenger. Click on this image to take you there.

Maple Leaf Nebula (CGI)

Maple Leaf Nebula (CGI)
IMAGINARY IMAGE TO CELEBRATE CANADA DAY: Click on this his imaginary 'Maple Leaf Nebula' to take you to a poem entitled 'Nebula' (image not to be confused with NGC 2024, the Flame Nebula which is also known as the Maple Leaf)

Beauty in the Garden - June 2016

Beauty in the Garden - June 2016
Beauty in the Garden - June 2016

Aurora Imagined over Iona (Watercolour & pastel)

Aurora Imagined over Iona (Watercolour & pastel)
First posted here on Adomnan’s day (23rd September) 2015. An imagined natural phenomenom that could be seen to resonate mystically with the idea of Iona being a ‘thin place’ where heaven brushes earth.

Assisi Sunset

Assisi Sunset
Assisi Sunset

Thinking about the Brain

Thinking about the Brain
This image is formed from a small section of neural pathways posted by the Koch Institute, clipped, part inverted and stitched together. It is intended to impart a sense of our extensive, but still partial understanding of what goes on in that awesome part of our bodies, our brains. By clicking on the image, you will be taken to a celebratory poem/song ‘For Amazement by Beauty’ about all of our senses.

Source (CGI by Trevor Thorn)

Source (CGI by Trevor Thorn)
Source: Expand the image to reveal its heart

Rainbow spiral (CGI)

Rainbow spiral (CGI)
'Rainbow Spiral' to accompany 'Darkness,Illuminator' . Find the poem by clicking on the iImagined mage

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)

Cross and simple Prayer rope (Photo)
Cross and simple prayer rope: make one like this to use as an aid to using ‘The Jesus Prayer'