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"Boom" of a meteor


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Light travels at a speed of 186,000 miles a second . Sound travels at a speed of 700 miles per hour (about 1100 feet a second) . This is much the same as seeing lightning and then hearing the "boom". Upon seeing it every 5 seconds (or so) before you hear the "report" means that it is one mile away . 10 seconds = 2 miles and so on .Actually it is 5.1 seconds but to get that close one must factor in the .75 second of reaction time upon seeing the light and then another .75 second reaction time to realize that you heard the sound .I don't know about you but my brain is already hurting .Hope this helps .

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Paratrooper nailed it.

Seeing the light and hearing the sonic boom of a meteorite is exactly the same thing as seeing lightning and hearing the boom. When you see the light, start counting "one mississippi, two mississippi," etc.

If you do see a fireball that's close enough to hear the sonic boom at all, count yourself extremely fortunate.

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Thank you all for the replies. The one in question was relayed to me where the man actually heard the boom before seeing the fireball. I'll let everyone know if I find anything.

Jimmy

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I have read approximately 30 miles for a sonic boom/s or shutter. However, I hear war games going on in while I am hiking around in the desert near Parker, AZ. Do not know if it is the Yuma Proving Ground or 29 Palms. And both are a long ways off. Being a newbie, I am reading like a madman on this sort of thing!

Cheers!

Jim

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Meteorite sonic booms have one major characteristic different than lighting and thunder. The lighting strike to thunder ratio means the lighting is within five miles of the observer. The thunder heard after lighting usually does not exceed 25 seconds in time or about five miles from your observation point before it is too distant to be heard. The time interval for an observed meteorite to sonic boom is always MUCH longer. Meteorite sonic booms occur when the meteorite is between 45 and 20 miles high. Below that altitude the meteorite slows sub-sonic and CANNOT produce a sonic boom. Meteorite sonic booms can be heard up to 70 miles away. Geometry places the observer between 25 and 45 miles from the flight path before the meteorite goes subsonic and also dark in flight. In real time the observer will hear the sonic boom one minute 40 seconds to six minutes later, far longer than the average person would expect.

In practical terms if you see a bolide you should begin counting one one thousand immediately, but then reference a watch or cell phone clock to get the exact time since the wait is longer than expected. Then, cup your ears with your hands to double volume and increase hearing distance. The hardest part is that you will need to listen for up to six minutes. The result will be that you will know exactly how far away the meteorite in closest flight was from you, greatly aiding recovery efforts. Meteorite booms usually surprise people on the ground because they are so much later than expected. Often, the witness is unsure the two events are related.

I personally have heard a confirmed sonic boom 70 miles away while observing at a quiet site caused by a military jet.

Remember to begin timing and listen with cupped ears for a very long time if you witness a -6 magnitude or greater bolide.

Merry Christmas!

Bill Peters (see: Danby Dry Lake Meteorite)

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  • 2 weeks later...

One of the Meteorite Men episodes dealt with a fireball and fall in Canada. They showed videos taken by residents of the fireball and the sounds of the explosion, not sonic boom, were clearly heard. As I recall the actual fireball was over 100 miles away, based on their interpretation of radar hits on the falling meteoroid. Again, that's the sound of the explosion, not the sonic boom.

I understand an actual sonic boom is a wave that passes over the hearer as it travels through the atmosphere. That's why a jet makes a "boom" rather than a constant roar and a bullet going by makes a "pop" rather than a buzz or other noise as is often supplied by Hollywood. I would think that the sonic boom of a meteoroid would be the same way, and hearing it would depend on not only distance, but direction of travel of the object in relation to the hearer. If the hearer is in front of the meteorite he may see it, but never hear the boom, unless or until it passes by him/her.

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I don't think that a meteorite or anything else can make a "sonic boom" unaided . That is to say that gravity alone cannot give enough speed to a falling object to achieve breaking the sound barrier . When I went through Jump School one of the things we went over was that if we had a malfunction the maximum speed we could possibly hit would be 120 MPH . We had one guy streamer in and he walked away thanks to landing in Alaskan muskeg (kinda like deep mud) . 120 MPH don't feed the "sonic boom" bulldog . The many times I've heard sonic boom were by jet fighters .

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