Jump to content
Nugget Shooter Forums

Massive Tau Herculid meteor explosion as bright as the Sun!


Recommended Posts

Out of 21,160 observed lifetime meteors this was the brightest I have ever seen.

I was observing the Tau Herculids from 9:03 p.m. to 11:46 p.m. at an extremely dark site when one hour after the peak shower at 11:16 p.m. from remote Vekol Rd two miles south of I-8 and 25 miles east of Gila Bend, AZ I saw massive triple meteor explosion almost as bright as the Sun directly in my line of site lighting up the whole desert. 

The dark site night visibility was greater than 6+ magnitude, with zero lights visible lying flat facing south observing the Tau Herculids when a massive explosion far brighter than the Full Moon occurred 11* above the horizon nearly due south directly in my line of sight. It instantly lit up the entire desert in a brilliant flash so that I could see everything in the desert. I could see the color of my dark red clothes almost like full daylight. A reddish circular cloud was at the explosion point. A fraction of a second later a second smaller explosion occurred at the same place still lighting up the entire desert about as bright as the Full Moon. I was looking directly at it and could see the same circular cloud 2.5 times the diameter of the Moon, 1.5 degrees across. Another fraction of a second a third explosion in the same place in the circular cloud also lit up the entire desert, but dimmer about a bright as first quarter Moon. That direction and low altitude would put the meteor across the Mexican border well over 100 miles away. There is only nearly empty Tohono O'Odham Native American reservation to the border and the same tribe south of the border in Mexico with no lights within. It was too low to be seen in Phoenix, but should have been seen SW of Tucson and WSW from Kitt Peak Observatory. Out of 21,160 lifetime meteors observed this was the brightest bollide ever witnessed.

I saw 60 mostly slow Tau Herculids. There were about with 12 dimmer than 5+ magnitude coming directly out of the radiant at the zenith moving extremely slow. If I wasn't looking straight up at the Zenith I would have missed them. The peak was from 10:00-10:15 p.m. when I saw 15, or one per minute top rate. About one in five left trails. Three were sporadics throughout the evening.

Meteor count May 30, 2022:

10 from 9:15-9:30,

10 from 9:30-10:00,

15 from 10:00-10:15,

14 from 10:15-11:00

5 from 11:00-11:15

6 from 11:15-11:46

60 total 

Greatest show on Earth!

billpeters

  • Like 2
  • wow 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

9 hours ago, billpeters said:

Out of 21,160 observed lifetime meteors this was the brightest I have ever seen.

I was observing the Tau Herculids from 9:03 p.m. to 11:46 p.m. at an extremely dark site when one hour after the peak shower at 11:16 p.m. from remote Vekol Rd two miles south of I-8 and 25 miles east of Gila Bend, AZ I saw massive triple meteor explosion almost as bright as the Sun directly in my line of site lighting up the whole desert. 

The dark site night visibility was greater than 6+ magnitude, with zero lights visible lying flat facing south observing the Tau Herculids when a massive explosion far brighter than the Full Moon occurred 11* above the horizon nearly due south directly in my line of sight. It instantly lit up the entire desert in a brilliant flash so that I could see everything in the desert. I could see the color of my dark red clothes almost like full daylight. A reddish circular cloud was at the explosion point. A fraction of a second later a second smaller explosion occurred at the same place still lighting up the entire desert about as bright as the Full Moon. I was looking directly at it and could see the same circular cloud 2.5 times the diameter of the Moon, 1.5 degrees across. Another fraction of a second a third explosion in the same place in the circular cloud also lit up the entire desert, but dimmer about a bright as first quarter Moon. That direction and low altitude would put the meteor across the Mexican border well over 100 miles away. There is only nearly empty Tohono O'Odham Native American reservation to the border and the same tribe south of the border in Mexico with no lights within. It was too low to be seen in Phoenix, but should have been seen SW of Tucson and WSW from Kitt Peak Observatory. Out of 21,160 lifetime meteors observed this was the brightest bollide ever witnessed.

I saw 60 mostly slow Tau Herculids. There were about with 12 dimmer than 5+ magnitude coming directly out of the radiant at the zenith moving extremely slow. If I wasn't looking straight up at the Zenith I would have missed them. The peak was from 10:00-10:15 p.m. when I saw 15, or one per minute top rate. About one in five left trails. Three were sporadics throughout the evening.

Meteor count May 30, 2022:

10 from 9:15-9:30,

10 from 9:30-10:00,

15 from 10:00-10:15,

14 from 10:15-11:00

5 from 11:00-11:15

6 from 11:15-11:46

60 total 

Greatest show on Earth!

billpeters

Could something like what you saw produce meteorites?  If so, is it possible that it could have been separate from the Tau Herculids? A coincidence perhaps?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

3 hours ago, Morlock said:

Could something like what you saw produce meteorites?  If so, is it possible that it could have been separate from the Tau Herculids? A coincidence perhaps?

Since the Tau Herculid radiant was at zenith directly overhead the trajectory would be vertical at 90* putting the impact directly underneath. The gas and dust from a car sized chuck of Comet Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 would still not likely make it to the ground based on its composition. However, I am not sure if it was a Tau Herculid since it was a triple circular explosion with one cloud with no noticeable trail. Though, if it was a sporadic space rock it would certainly produce a significant meteorite strewnfield. There are two possibilities. The trail of the Tau Herculid was moving directly away from me from my perspective since is was so close to the horizon at 10 degrees. Or is was sporadic, perhaps, moving directly towards me.  It looked clearly meteoritic and had no appearance of being a manmade explosion.

The sky surprises us with great delights,

billpeters

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, billpeters said:

me.  It looked clearly meteoritic and had no appearance of being a manmade explosion.

The 30 of May was a Federal Holiday Memorial Day when you viewed, especially that late, so any military training in the area was highly unlikely.  The I-8 is “roughly” the Northern border of the Sells Training area.

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The bolide lit up the domes at Kitt Peak. I misreported the time, which is more precisely 11:30 p.m. May 30, 2022 MST. Meteor staff has been in contact with me. See APOD today photographer. They did get one pic of a very short brilliant bolide right where I reported it.

billpeters

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

This is a good pic from Tucson a little father away than me. The second pic below is an all sky from Kitt Peak.

image.jpeg

image.png

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The good news is that this was not a Tau Herculid, but a sporadic likely to produce ground fragments. If you look at the Kitt Peak allsky pic you will see that the meteor trail does not point back to the Tau Herculid radiant between the end of the Big Dipper and Arcturus. It is a sporadic, probably a pickup sized engine asteroidal meteor fragment, which is far more likely to put meteorites on the ground.  If you look at the www.amsmeteors.org Events  3214-2022 and scroll down you will see that the trajectory would put the fall field about 60 miles SW of Hermosilla, Mexico in rough mountainous terrain. 

Also, I was looking straight down the flight path of the bolide, which is why I did see much of a trail, but circular clouds.

I'm off to Nova Scotia now,

Later!

billpeters

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...