Very bright fireball over North Carolina coincides with the launch of Falcon 9 rocket, U.S.

fireball-north-carolina-falcon-9-rocket-launch-november-2021

A very bright fireball was seen over North Carolina at 02:12 UTC on November 11, 2021. Interestingly, the event took place just a few minutes after the Crew-3 Falcon 9 rocket lifted off the pad at Kennedy Space Center, Florida on its way toward the International Space Station.

The American Meteor Society (AMS) has so far received 216 reports, mainly from North Carolina, but users from Washington DC, Delaware, Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia also reported seeing it.1

"Incredibly, nearly all of the witnesses were outside to view the launch of this rocket when an incredibly bright Taurid fireball flashed through the sky. For many of the witnesses both the rocket and the fireball were visible simultaneously," AMS said.

Analysis of the eyewitness accounts posted on the AMS website, combined with data from a NASA camera located in western North Carolina and other publicly accessible videos indicate that the meteor first became visible 30 km (48 miles) above Greenville, North Carolina.2

North Carolina fireball on November 11, 2021 – heatmap. Credit: AMS

Moving northwest at 53 100 km/h (33 000 mph), it survived only 3.5 seconds before disintegrating 45 km (28 miles) above Macclesfield.

At its brightest, the fireball rivaled the Full Moon, suggesting it was caused by an object roughly 20 kg (45 pounds) in weight and 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter.

The low speed implies an asteroidal origin.  

References:

1 Fireball event 7540-2021 – AMS

2 NASA Meteor Watch – FB

Featured image credit: William H., AMS

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