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A Brief Asteroid Story


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When I was a youngster in the late autumn of 1954 or 1955 we rural neighbor boys were looking for our lost baseball in my grandfather's weed populated empty field.  It was getting pretty dark already in Palatine, Illinois.  The parents of the other boys already had called out to them to come home for dinner and I was left alone to find the lost baseball (it was mine).  Just about when I was ready to quit the fruitless search I happened to glance up into the sky.  I was poleaxed to the spot in amazement.  There, floating majestically across the sky directly above me was a perfectly round object about one-quarter the size of a full moon and just about as bright.  I estimated it was moving at roughly the speed of an overhead jet fighter from the local Glenview Naval Air Station at maybe 10,000 feet. Jet fighters, you see, were the closest visual experiences I could connect it with.  All was silent.  My transfixed eyes watched as it seemingly began to descend directly downward amongst the leafless ancient oak tree branches of a county forest preserve (Deer Grove) that graced the horizon about a mile distant.  I prepared myself for a monstrous explosion.  But to my amazement absolutely nothing happened.  The object just seemed to silently get swallowed up by the oak and hickory forest canopy.

A few years later the Soviet Union launched its first satellite.  Within no time at all the "Rooskies" shot up a second one -- this time with a dog (Leika) aboard. My high school freshman classmates and I raptly followed the story.  The Chicago Tribune began publishing orbit schedules for those of its readers interested in seeing what a satellite in orbit looked like.  So I set my alarm, then hours later awoke, put on my parka and boots and dragged myself out into sub-zero weather to gaze up at the frigid night sky (which in those days was much clearer than it is today).  Sure enough, there it was!!  A tiny speck of light barely perceptible moving silently and gracefully across the sky.  Then it began curving downwards, dropping faster little by little into the same forest of barren oak and hickory tree branches that formed the distant horizon.  The tiny little speck of light with a dog on board silently disappeared from sight.

I just stood there, transfixed with a flush of instant comprehension.  The mysterious thing that I previously observed behaved in basically the same way.  Obviously whatever I had seen passing over my grandfather's field was traveling way above our atmosphere because it left no smoke trail like the meteorites that burn up on entry.  It had not descended into the forest after all!!  It simply dipped completely over the horizon into the vastness of outer space beyond our planet.  But it was many, many times larger than the tiny speck of light with the dog aboard and probably many hundreds of miles further up.  I've often reflected on that freezing cold night when my perception catalog was ramped up to include comprehension of the movement of extraterrestrial objects that make close encounters with my own Mother Earth.  That must have been an asteroid!!  If it was, then that puppy was a MONSTER.  Luckily it missed our fragile planet and I am still here to tell about it.

Just thought I'd share...

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Thanks Martin. I also have a short story. I'm thinking it was in July or August of 2011 or 2012  I was night fishing on the Columbia River in Washington State and I saw a huge green and white fireball drop slowly -- and silently -- from the sky. It was almost due north of where I was (near Kennewick) and it looked like it was coming straight down somewhere over the horizon. I have since read that green color indicates magnesium. 

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Dakota,

That was likely a Perseid bollide, probably in mid-[August of either year. I went back and cursorily reviewed reports at amsmeteors.org but did not find anything to match your report.

billpeters

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Rocky,

That was a camera artifact. It was much too high to hit any clouds. It was probably about 30 to 40 miles high at the closest in the video.  It is believed that it grazed the Earth's atmosphere and went back into space. 

billpeters

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