WATCH breathtaking fireball burst into life as it rains down on Russia’s Urals

From Russia Today

A meteor which put on a spectacular show as it sped across Russia’s Urals region was caught on camera lighting up the night sky as it erupted in a blaze of glory this week.

Photographer Ilya Jankowsky captured the stunning spectacle in the town of Irbit in Sverdlovsk Oblast on Thursday night.

Full post here

HT/Carl FH

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Bloke down the pub
February 2, 2020 3:12 am

I’ve only seen a fireball the once. First impression was that it was headed straight for me, which certainly got my attention.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
February 2, 2020 8:22 am

Size… long nights… opportunity and luck.

Once, coming back from a winter snow-ski vacation (California side), whilst driving well past sunset, down the Sierras, rounding a bend, I saw a HUGE bright-sky fireball off in the distance. Large enough not only to leave a solid black-against-gold sky smoke trail, but it split into 3 chunks mid-flight, each of them also with separate smoke-trails.

Next morning, talked to my brother, who lived in San Francisco. He happened to be ‘braving the elements’ (as only San Franciscans can emote!) having a bit of a BBQ on his apartment’s back porch, at that time. He reported that a HUGE fireball streamed off to the west, bright enough to cast its own shadows, trailing smoke. It flew to his view of the horizon, and was gone.

His first thought was, “for sure, this could make a tsunami! we’re doomed!”.

Which of course, it didn’t. Good thing, that.

Looking the next few days at the newspapers critically, we noted at least 5 or 6 reports of the thing. That, from the whole west coast of California.

To answer your question — it takes LUCK and keen observer skills; in the case of recording video, also that there’s something recording the sky at the time.

By the look of the split-in-three fireball tho’, I would venture that it was ¹⁄₁₀ to ¼ the size of the Chelybinsk monster. Just from comparing memories and such to the Chelymbinsk vids. Who knows tho: our eyes are logarithmic sensitivity organs. So, something ¹⁄₁₀th as bright (apparent) might be anywhere from ¹⁄₃₀ to ¹⁄₁₀₀ the actual power/speed/energy difference.

⋅-⋅-⋅ Just saying, ⋅-⋅-⋅
⋅-=≡ GoatGuy ✓ ≡=-⋅

Reply to  GoatGuy
February 3, 2020 9:28 am

One night, flying the night freight in a DC-3, from Phoenix to LA, a massive fireball passed LOW overhead, straight to LA. I expected to see the city in ruins, but was amazed to find it “normal”.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
February 2, 2020 9:13 am

First impression was that it was headed straight for me

Kinda what I saw once — a greenish-yellow “blob” overhead that expanded in size for a second or two, barely moving, then vanished. Also saw an orange ball without a trail rapidly moving horizontally overhead, then bursting into a shower of “sparks”.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
February 2, 2020 2:01 pm

I lived outside of Washington, DC, when I was a teen (Chevy Chase, MD). Astronomy was a hobby. Even though visibility was limited due to light pollution, I would go out with my scope to see what I could.

In 1966, give or take a year, I saw a very bright meteor that split into two meteors. Awesome display that extended at least a half of the sky. Given the political turmoil of the day, and that I was just outside DC, I just stood frozen, waiting to make sure it was only a meteor. Interesting times.

Craig from Oz
February 2, 2020 3:18 am

Okay, noob question here.

Is there a reason why Russia ‘seems’ to be the place to be to see meteors?

Is this because Russia is big and everyone has dash cams? Or is this something to do with the location of Russia relative to the rotational axis of the earth?

Or is there actually no statistical proof and Russia is, by area, not better or worse than anywhere else?

Like I said, noob question 🙂

Bloke down the pub
Reply to  Craig from Oz
February 2, 2020 4:02 am

A combination of a plethora of security cameras and dark skies may have some bearing.

Reply to  Bloke down the pub
February 2, 2020 5:27 am

Because of corrupt police and extortionists, almost all Russians have dash cams. link

In this case, the guy who got the footage is described as an amateur astronomer as well as a photographer. A couple of the shots look like the product of an all sky camera.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
February 2, 2020 4:20 am

re: “Is there a reason why Russia ‘seems’ to be the place to be to see meteors?”

Russians spend more time outside, with their iPhones, dashcams and the like? Dunno …

I’ve seen a ‘fireball’ here in Tejas, many years ago when leaving a friend’s place while facing south and the friend was facing north; he didn’t see it as it lasted only a moment! This was in pre-internet days too …

Cowa Bunga
Reply to  _Jim
February 2, 2020 5:41 am

I was living near Kempner, TX in the late 80’s till 1992 and saw one around midnight one night. It was breathtaking with a huge tail heading easterly. It was visible for about 3 seconds. Some months later or more (after searching the news daily) I heard about a mystery ocean wave that hit a town in NW Florida & pushed a bunch of cars around.

Carbon Bigfoot
Reply to  Cowa Bunga
February 4, 2020 4:30 am

Cowa Bunga Kemosabie
Your handle was the response to the Long Ranger by his sidekick Tonto. Do you know the literal translation? One of my favorite TV shows of the 50s. Thanks for the memories.

Adam Gallon
Reply to  Craig from Oz
February 2, 2020 5:05 am

Russia’s about 5,700 miles across. The USA’s about 2,500 miles across.

Kevin kilty
Reply to  Craig from Oz
February 2, 2020 6:27 am

Russia is a very large place.

Reply to  Kevin kilty
February 2, 2020 6:58 am

But not densely populated.

Jeff Alberts
Reply to  Craig from Oz
February 2, 2020 9:07 am

I’ve seen a fair number of “shooting stars”, brief short streaks across the sky. They usually aren’t very bright, and are of very short duration. That’s in the US.

While on desert training at Ft Irwin (Mojave desert) in the early 80s, I’d sometimes lay back with a pair of night vision goggles, and watch the sky at night. Amazing the number of meteor streaks one could see, as well as satellites moving slowly across the sky.

Reply to  Craig from Oz
February 2, 2020 9:15 am

In Soviet Russia, meteors don’t hit land, land hits meteors.

Reply to  beng135
February 3, 2020 5:15 pm

In America, you light up the sky with garish advertising, street lights, yard lights, and all kinds of light pollution.
In Soviet Russia, the sky lights YOU.

Johann Wundersamer
Reply to  Craig from Oz
February 14, 2020 5:42 am

Make it “the location of Russia, Philippines, Gulf of Mexico, Panama, … relative to the rotational axis of the earth.

February 2, 2020 3:40 am

Ya know*, I’ve been listening with a narrow CW filter (50 Hz) using an Icom IC-756ProIII to 20 MHz WWV’s carrier which transmits from Ft Collins, Colorado (to my locale in Tx) at a power level of 10 kW … this is a basic mechanism for ‘hearing’ meteors that leave an ionization trail (reflective to radio signals) in our atmosphere, and yes, I have heard a few good ones over night (seems to be the best time) the past few weeks.

Additional basic info on this subject (and no, I am not k5kj):

* An annoying colloquialism, I know 😉

Reply to  _Jim
February 2, 2020 6:28 am

In the mid-60s, I had a good amateur-radio setup in Pittsburgh, PA. In the mornings, sometimes I’d listen to the Voice of America 21-MHz broadcast from eastern Ohio — Bethany, I think. The main reception mode was back scatter, but I could hear the doppler shifts of meteors coming into the Earth’s atmosphere. Once in a while, I would hear a “blue-whizzer”, the doppler shift would approach zero, and the signal would go up to S9 + 60db or stronger for a few seconds.

Reply to  littlepeaks
February 2, 2020 8:03 am

I had one – something – last about 10 mins the other night. In any case, the strength of WWV’s 20 MHz carrier ramped-up and held for about 10 mins then faded back out.

I have previously looked at Doppler ‘returns’ from local aircraft using VHF TV ATSC station ‘pilot’ carriers, VHF aircraft VOR station transmitters, and even the local ATIS (airport weather & runway advisory station transmitter) in the VHF aircraft band. I had the opportunity to observe the ‘Cowboy’ VOR in Dallas while a severe wx event transpired (a squall line moved in from Ft. Worth) and its Doppler signature a few years back too. These tricks can be achieved with no more than an Icom IC-706MkII and an outside antenna! (And, of course, a PC running something like “Spectrum Lab” (freeware software) for observing the audio spectrum from the receiver.)

For the benefit of others, here’s a quick video on what we’re discussing with regard to shortwave broadcast transmitters being used to observe meteor ionization ‘trails’:

Reply to  _Jim
February 2, 2020 8:46 am

Thanks for the great info. I have three brothers that are hams. Our house was full of Heathkit amateur radios. Their rooms were papered with hundreds of QSL cards. I’ll pass this on to them

Reply to  polski
February 2, 2020 11:32 am

Here is a good resource on this subject:

And here is something I picked up just an hour or so back; each screen represents about an hour’s worth of ‘data’ taken in using CHU Canada on 14.670 MHz as received in Texas; a couple of events can be seen:

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  _Jim
February 2, 2020 1:31 pm

Picking up broadcast television waves reflected from aircraft was an annoyingly frequent fact of life back in the old days of analog broadcast TV. The picture would go berserk due to the interactions between directly received and reflected signals. Czech Republic researchers developed the phenomenon into bistatic and multistatic radar using dedicated receivers and “non-cooperative” (i.e. non-synchronized) transmitters, such as radio and TV stations.

But even earlier, during WW-II, a Czech squadron of the Royal Air Force took part in experiments to use the trails of meteors as relay “satellites” for radio communication over very long distances. Evidently it proved feasible, though I don’t recall whether it was ever used operationally. (Petr Beckmann, a Czech refugee and later Professor of Electrical Engineering at University of Colorado Boulder, wrote about it in his monthly newsletter “Access to Energy.” I’ve since lost my copy.)

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
February 2, 2020 1:48 pm

re: “Picking up broadcast television waves reflected from aircraft was an annoyingly frequent fact of life back in the old days of analog broadcast TV. The picture would go berserk due to the interactions between directly received and reflected signals. …”

Yes, know that. But, the thing is, being able to do it with common gear found in today’s ham shack, and most hams have NO idea this sort of thing is possible using *local* transmitters like the local 10 or 20 Watt ATIS transmitter at the local aerodrome! I also mentioned using the various FAA maintained VOR transmitting sites as well. Do remember too, back in the analog days, those were 50,000 to 100,000 plus Watt (ERP) carriers from the TeeVee stations!!

The phenom of which you speak seemed to be a phenom particularly on the low VHF (CHs 2 – 6) range as used in the US. In this same vein, I have a water tower within 1/2 mile almost directly “behind” from the direction our TV signal originate (on Cedar Hill) and revolving around the TeeVee Log Periodic antenna back in the days of NTSC (analog television) I could see a stronger *delayed*, reflected image rather than the primary, direct NTSC signal …

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  _Jim
February 2, 2020 3:05 pm

Yes, those phenomenal carrier powers were something. A Los Angeles radio station I listened to when I lived in Southern California, KFI AM-640, still broadcasts at 50 kW. When driving cross-country at night, I could often listen clearly as far away as Kansas.

Yes, those were the channels I recall being worst afflicted. I think it had to do with the vertical blanking line and ghost-cancelling reference – raster line 19 in US TV broadcasting – being messed up by the interference. It was worst when I lived far out in St. Louis County (MO), at the outer reaches of the TV stations, in the pattern of Spirit of St. Louis Airport.

Today we live in Manassas, VA, about 27 miles south of Washington DC. We don’t have cable, just internet; but we did install an antenna, and to our amazement are able to receive hundreds of digital broadcast TV channels with perfect clarity. What a difference in paradigm!

February 2, 2020 4:06 am

Saw a fireball one morning as I was out the door, heading to work at 5:30AM. I watched it, realized it was north of the state line and breaking up as it went.

There are many more where this and the Chelyabinsk rock came from.

February 2, 2020 5:45 am

Many years ago at night in Nebraska there was a low cloud cover that suddenly lit up in a flash. That was followed by a loud and echoing “POW”. I assumed it was a meteorite hitting earth somewhere nearby.

February 2, 2020 6:20 am

I’ve seen two fireballs in my life. The first and most spectacular was in Pittsburgh in the mid-50s. I was sitting on my grandparents’ porch in late afternoon. All of a sudden this huge fireball exploded in the western sky. It was brighter than the sun. I expected to hear a huge sonic boom, but didn’t hear anything.

The second was in northern Italy in the mid-70s. My wife and I were walking across the back yard in the late evening, after just viewing Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There was a huge flash over the mountains to the south of us. I looked, and there appeared to be a huge object coming toward us, with lights all over it. It kept getting larger and larger, until it filled the entire sky. I thought maybe it was a spaceship or something. As everything went overhead, I realized that it was a meteor that did a glancing blow to our atmosphere, and broke into pieces. The pieces were still all flying at the same speed, giving it the appearance of a large solid object. As the pieces flew overhead, I could see trails from some of the meteors.

February 2, 2020 6:29 am

One night during the early summer of 1996 I took my telescope out in the country in Indiana to get a good view of comet Hale Bopp. That night a fire ball going from the NW to the SE came in so low I could hear it crackling! It didn’t break up or explode but disappeared when it either went over the horizon or struck the ground. Quite an experience. No fear, just amazement.

Steven Curtis Lohr
February 2, 2020 6:38 am

Given the number of people who have seen fireballs, they may be more common than most believe. The Russians just seem to catch more on video. I personally have viewed two really big ones in the US here in Colorado but neither were reported or videoed. They occurred at night or wee hours of the morning. So, like myself, once you see it and it’s gone, what are you going to do? Exciting, yes, but not much to write home about because everyone you tell about it just replies gee whiz, that’s cool, then shrugs and forgets about it.

February 2, 2020 6:41 am

I remember seeing a truly spectacular fireball over Phoenix, Az, many years ago, went from one horizon to the other, changed colors several times, the entire city saw it.

A couple weeks later it was quietly reported that a military launch from Vandenburg with a secret payload had gone wrong that night.

February 2, 2020 6:57 am

last time I saw something like that it was a neutral line failing on the incoming on an a/c hangar and the transformer exploding off the pole….
all about 100 feet from me.
was pretty loud and bright.

Doug Deal
February 2, 2020 7:39 am

I am surprised at how few people have not seen many fireballs in their life. I have seen at least a dozen that I can remember.

I suppose it is due to spending more time outside in the dark than the daytime.

Geo Rubik
February 2, 2020 7:54 am

I saw a satellite reenter and burst into several colors. It was spectacular.

Bryan A
February 2, 2020 8:22 am

I’ve seen a few. Some are so bright…
Thought I was looking at one once, Feb 1, 2003
I was leaving to go into work at just before 6am and noticed a small bright spot with a long smoke trail coming from west to east over Sonoma County. It was almost directly over my house. It was only after my perusing the news feeds during my 9:30 break that I discovered it was the Space Shuttle Columbia coming in for the last time.

February 2, 2020 8:33 am

Wow Photographer Ilya Jankowsky has a nice collection of camera’s, I counted 3 different video’s of the meteor. I would suspect it takes hours and hours of night time video to get even one visible image like this.

Tom Johnson
February 2, 2020 8:45 am

Much of Russia lies north of the 45th parallel. It’s simply dark there most of the winter. People are out there in the dark much more than they are out in the dark in Miami. You can’t see many fireballs in the day time.

February 2, 2020 11:23 am

I saw one in spring, 1965 over southern British Columbia about 10 pm. It lit up the sky gradually until the land area was as bright as daylight, though the sky was still dark. It was about half the diameter of the moon and twice as long, to my perspective, the very end of the tail appeared to whip side to side. It was totally silent and didn’t move very fast. The light faded away as it disappeared behind the mountains. They did manage to locate a few small remnants on the ground.

February 2, 2020 12:38 pm

There is a sparse and unnamed meteor shower in April that amateur astronomers nicknamed the “April fireballs”. The rate is about one or two an hour, but they’re BRIGHT. If you are out after dark in April and have clear skies, keep an eye out.

A Google search on “April Fireballs” will list some past occurrences.

James Schrumpf
February 2, 2020 1:56 pm

Since the first Russian fireball a few years ago, we’ve had the flyby of the Star Trek “Planet Killer” asteroid, a few “green comets,” and now another Russian fireball “raining down” (raining WHAT down?) on the countryside.

I think we’re being sized-up. Time will tell.

February 3, 2020 9:39 pm

I was driving home from the airport, when I saw the meteor that hit a car trunk in NY, Looked like Flash Gordon spaceship, and I thought it would hit near by, in NE Ohio.
Another time driving home from SC, we’re in southern Ohio right after it got dark, while I couldn’t see the cause, the whole sky lit up, to almost day light levels.
I actually started counting so I could figure out how far back it was if I heard anything.

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