Fireball over Colorado

Contributed by
Jan 4, 2007

You may have read about a spectacular fireball that burned up over Colorado today. The event has been linked to a Russian booster re-entering after a week in space. It broke up into many pieces as it fell through the atmosphere, leaving an incredible shower of meteor-like debris trailing across the sky. You can see video of it here and here.

USA Today reports that a piece of debris may have been found from the booster, but I got an email from James Oberg who is doubtful. He thinks the debris that was found is too far north; the object didn't break up until it was over Ft. Collins Colorado, but the debris was found in Wyoming (it was traveling to the south).

I have no opinion as yet, since I don't have enough details. If you find more on the web, post it in the comments!

Years ago, when I was starting up my Masters degree research at the University of Virginia, I was at the observatory in rural Nelson County with a friend and the observatory director. We were looking at a bright comet that was gracing our skies when suddenly the entire sky lit up. A fantastic fireball sailed across our view, bright enough to leave an afterimage on our eyes. It was trailing flame, and moved west to east in a graceful arc. We found out the next day it was -- you guessed it -- a Russian booster that had re-entered. Ours didn't break up like this one over Colorado, but it was still breathtaking and frakkin' amazing. I'd love to see another one like that!

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