Friday evening fireball seen from Grants Pass to Bay Area

A still image from a short video captured by Tom Wright of Medford shows a trail of light bursting into a ball of light (shown) behind clouds. The video was taken looking south from Medford at 7:26 p.m. Friday.
November 4, 2022

Reports to fireball tracking site indicate it fell over northern California

By Bert Etling, Ashland.news

Social media lit up with fireball reports Friday evening.

“BRIGHT meteor I’m guessing just lit the whole sky up in Jacksonville. So bright I thought it was lightning,” tweeted @OregonTarheel at 7:36 p.m.

“What did I just see falling from the sky over Ashland???” tweeted @soydestroyer at 7:49 p.m.

Reports of sightings of the fireball poured in to the American Meteor Society website. By a little after 10 p.m., more than 50 reports of a fireball seen over northern California and southern Oregon had been posted, from as far south as Martinez in the Bay Area to as far east as Merrill near Klamath Falls, as far west as Petaluma and as far north as Grants Pass.

By noon Saturday, the number of reports had climbed to 70, with sightings reported as far east as Reno, as far south as Modesto and as far west as Ukiah. Grants Pass remained the farthest north it was reported seen.

While those submitting the reports put the time the meteor fell at anywhere from 7:25 to 7:35 p.m., a video captured by Tom Wright of Medford had a time stamp of 7:26 p.m.

The brightest sightings were centered in the area Redding and to the south, seemingly indicating the likely area where the presumed meteor either exploded altogether or fell to earth.

The automatically computed trajectory of the fireball is shown as a blue arrow west of Mount Shasta on the American Meteor Society fireball report webpage. A total of 84 reports, indicated by the blue figures, had been received as of noon Saturday.

Automated computations by the American Meteor Society put the meteor’s path as just west of Mount Shasta.

Several posters pointed out the meteor was likely a Taurid, the name of a meteor shower nearing its annual peak.

“Keep a sharp eye on the night sky for the possibility of catching sight of an outstandingly bright meteor,” Joe Rao wrote in an article for Space.com posted Thursday. “There’s a chance that Earth will encounter a swarm of unusually large particles capable of generating some eye-catching really brilliant fireballs, the kind that make the unsuspecting public call the police.

“Every year about this time, the Earth passes through a broad stream of debris left by the periodic comet Encke. The dusty material associated with this comet hits the Earth’s atmosphere at approximately 19 miles (30 km) per second and burns up, creating the Taurid meteor shower.”

Email Ashland.news Executive Editor Bert Etling at betling@ashland.news or call or text him at 541-631-1313.

Nov. 5 updated: Updated information from the American Meteorological fireball report page added.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.
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