Friday, November 27, 2009

Spectacular Meteor Sighting in Southern Africa – 21 Nov 2009


On Saturday, 21 November, shortly after 23:00 in the evening, 100’s of witnesses in South Africa reported seeing a bright flash in the sky. This remarkable phenomenon only lasted for a few seconds, but countless eye-witness reports as well as video footage of the incident, confirms that the flying object transformed into a fiery red-purple fireball before disappearing. I was indoors at that exact moment, and did not see anything
-- (can kick myself for this!)

The majority of the eye-witness accounts come mainly from the northern Gauteng, Mpumalanga, and Limpopo provinces, but there are also a few reports from the KwaZulu/Natal province. Click here to view some of these reports, as well as video footage.

Claire Flanagan, an astronomer at the Johannesburg Planetarium, as well as Magda Streicher, an astronomer from Limpopo, have identified the blazing object as a meteor. Sharad Master, a senior researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand's Impact Cratering Research Group (ICRG) said the meteor probably exploded in the atmosphere, but the latest report by Magda Streicher states, "We're making progress in finding out more or less where the meteorite hit. Some 60km west of Alldays, and 20km from Maasstroom and 15km from the Botswana border, on the farm Exiter, the wall of the farmer's house was cracked, the door shot open, and the Earth trembled." Source

The size of this meteor has been estimated to be the size of a rugby ball, and is thus not large enough to create an impact crater of significant size, --- so I should imagine that finding the exact location of the impact-crater in the vast African bush is going to be a rather daunting task. Incidentally, --- it is only when a meteor reaches the ground and survives impact, that it is called a meteorite.

Meteors are caused by streams of cosmic debris called meteoroids entering Earth's atmosphere at extremely high speeds on parallel trajectories. Meteor showers are almost always named after the constellation from which the meteors appear to originate. Fragments that do survive impact with Earth's surface are called meteorites. When it enters the atmosphere, impact pressure causes the body to heat up and emit light, thus forming a fireball. Source

In astronomical circles it is generally accepted that the phenomenon observed here in Southern Africa on the eve of 21 November 2009, was a meteor shower known as, “Alpha Monocerotids”. The Astronomical Society of Southern Africa (ASSA) also lists 21 November 2009 as the expected date for the Alpha Monocerotids meteor shower.

An accurate table of meteor showers is also published on the Wikipedia website. This comprehensive table lists 72 different meteor streams and their peak activity times. The info is based on data from the International Meteor Organization (IMO). Alpha Monocerotids has its peak date listed as 21 November 2009, --- the exact date it was observed here in South Africa.

The video below shows footage of the meteor shower taken from the security camera of the Mustek building in Midrand, Gauteng.



7 comments :

Anonymous said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Our account is quite similar to many above .My husband , my son and myself were driving on the Gaborone - Francistown Road in Botswana , probably about 9 kms North of Gaborone at around 11 - not sure of exact time . We saw a ball of fire hurtling across the sky .My initial reaction was that it was from a firework display - only to realise the magnitude far exceeded that of a firwork display and the Visual was nothing that I had ever seen before .I thought it was possibly some kind of military exercise since we saw it just above a military base

It lit up the sky like it was daylight .It turned into a bright orange light .We were too mesmerized to have any rational reaction like tak a photo .To me the sighting lasted more than 10 seconds - but I did not measure it .It also seemed to explode/dissipate just ahead of us .

If there any residues to be found , I do feel that something could be found in a 50-60 km semi circular radius north of Gaborone

I did call our Air traffic Control (who is about 10 kms from our home) immediately that I got in , but the person on duty had not seen anything .Although one of the new people coming on duty had seen exactly what we had seen .

To me it was one of the most awesome , scary but fantastic experience .

Tia Mysoa said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

@ Anonymous,
Thanks for sharing this experience with us.

Most experts in this field believe that it is highly unlikely that this meteor caused any major impact, but one never knows….

Anyone with info that may help to locate the impact-crater or residue, should contact:

Head of Geo-Sciences at Wits University
Prof. Roger Gibson
E-mail: roger.gibson@wits.ac.za

Dr Claire Flanagan, director of the Johannesburg Planetarium, has asked people with footage of the meteor (photos, video or on security television) to please contact her on 011 717 1390 or 076 744 4735 or planet@planetarium.co.za.

Jeff ( Va. Rebel ) said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Interesting stuff - I've always been fascinated by activity in the skies and space. Did you notice that the posted vid has been removed, due to violations (?).

Don't know if you've ever seen this link I posted on the old SAS site, but he mentions Wits University ... I'd love to view thru some of those scopes.
Good stuff !

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gn2dPZDMOWA

(5 parts I believe)

Tia Mysoa said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for pointing this out. I've fixed the video. Don't know what violations they're talking about!

Yes, Louis Giglio's songs are amazing. I haven't seen all the videos though.

Jeff ( Va. Rebel ) said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Thanks for fixing - it was "worth the gas" to drive back over and watch it ! I had missed those at the top of the article first time around, thought they were written reports. Went thru each flic a dozen times.

Man, I could watch that all day long. Something like that happened here, folks would think we were under attack - and probably react accordingly !

Great stuff !

Marlene said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

I know I am not on the right page but I could not seem to find a place to leave a comment regarding my toppic. Pleace move it to the right place for me. Here goes:
Mr.Smith if you should ever visit this web site I would like to personalle thank you for ""Opening Pabdora's Apartheid Box". For years I have lived in total ignorance.
While growing up in the sixties "politics" were the last thing on my mind. I grew up with a saying "my kerk en my politiek is my eie besigheid"
And so we were left in the dark of what actually went on in our country. I could never understand what happeded that our beautiful land was given away on a silver platter to the savages.
If politics were openly discussed in those years as it is today, I don't think that so many Afrikaners would have voted "yes" for the "big sale".
But that is water under the bridge, and we have to live with it until the time comes when Yahweh will step in and say" "Enouch is enough". I do so wish that I could read the rest of this book.

Tia Mysoa said... .....Click here to refresh this blog

Dear Marlene, Mr Smith’s blog is active again.
See: http://mikesmithspoliticalcommentary.blogspot.com

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