More Fireballs Seen in the West
By Martha Bellisle, Associated Press Writer
February 15, 1998; 12:08 p.m. EST
The phone lines to Denver's Museum of Natural History have been buzzing since a fireball streaked across the Colorado sky last month. That flash of light, caught on a homeowner's security camera, was not an isolated incident; it was followed by at least four more fireball sightings, said Jack Murphy of the museum's geology department. He hopes to find pieces of the celestial objects for the museum's collection. As new reports of sightings keep coming in, scientists are debating the meteorites' origin and the meaning of the increased activity. There is more at stake, they say, than where a piece of rock fell to the ground. ...
When a fireball fell into the Earth's atmosphere on Jan. 11, a Front Range resident's home security camera documented the bright light and shadows along with the sonic boom caused by the apparent meteorite, Revelle said. Scientists will use the time between the flash and boom -- 132 seconds - to help determine where the meteorite touched down, assuming it didn't burn out before landing. Then, at about noon on Jan. 27, a commercial airline pilot flying over Wyoming spotted "a ball of flame trailing smoke." "He reported he did get some turbulence from the object," Jim Patton, operations supervisor for the Federal Aviation Administration's flight service center in Casper told the Rawlins, Wyo., Daily Times. "He saw the debris and felt the shock wave from it." Residents in Breckenridge, Colo., also reported seeing that daytime fireball. Murphy said they believe the space rock was heading south to north and landed just north of Hanna, Wyo.
That night, another fireball broke into the Earth's atmosphere. Scientists believe that meteorite came down in southern Colorado or northern New Mexico, Murphy said. People in Breckenridge spotted that fireball, too. "That one was seen traveling east to west," Murphy said. "It has been a long time since we've seen one moving like that." Another meteorite was seen and heard at sunrise in eastern Colorado on Jan. 30. And Murphy is investigating a report that came in earlier this month.