15 October 1996



Re: (meteorobs) Possible fireball in California
To: meteorobs@latrade.com
Subject: Re: (meteorobs) Possible fireball in California
From: Joseph_Assmus@PACE-POST.ucsd.edu (by way of Mark Davis <Joseph_Assmus@PACE-POST.ucsd.edu>)
Date: Sat, 26 Oct 1996 21:48:27 -0400
Reply-To: meteorobs@latrade.com
Sender: owner-meteorobsAnother possible mail list note... ---Mark NEWS CLIPPING ON


CALIFORNIA/NEW MEXICO FIREBALL Yesterday, a friend gave me a news clipping dated TUE Oct 15, 1996 from the Los Angeles Times. Since I have no scanner I will handtype it in. Here it goes: 'GREEN FLASH' WAS REALLY 2, EXPERTS SAY -Astronomy: Meteor was seen over New Mexico 100 minutes before it was sighted in L.A. By Thomas H Maugh III TIMES Staff Writer The meteor that caused a green flash over the southland in the early evening of Oct 3 apparently streaked thru the sky above New Mexico 100 minutes ealier, then circled the earth before reaching the ground near Kernville, UCLA researchers said Mon. Intrigued by this unusal event, the UCLA team is offering a $5000 reward for the first person who finds a piece of the meteorite weighing more than 4 oz. The bright green flash, which was widely reported in the LA area, stirred a great deal of interest and speculation about its origin, in part because some sightings were as far as New Mexico. But UCLAs John Wasson a cosmochemist, was skeptical about some of the reports. Because of the curvature of the earth, to be seen from New Mexico, the LA-area meteor must have been more than 100miles above California, Wasson said. But meteors do not encounter enough atmosphere to be visible-what we see is the glow of the speeding space rock buring up as it contacts the air-until they are beloew 100 miles. "THe couldn't have seen [the same meteor] there" he said of the people in N. Mex. Or did they? Meteor researcher Mark Boslough of the Sandia Labs in Albuquerque, who investigated the NM sighting, found that residents there had indeed seen a green flash, heading in a east-northeasterly direction at 8:04pm MDT. That report was itself unusual though. Most meteors brighten as they pass thru the sky, often disappearing in a bright flash. The NM meteor, however, brightened, then dimmed-as would be expected if it were just skipping briefly thru the atmosphere. At UCLA, a reconstruction by Wasson and Lori Leshin found that the meteor flashed thru the Southland skies 100 min later, at 8:44 PDT. One hundred min is the time required for an object in low Earth orbit to make one circuit. The rock from space, which Wasson estimates weighed at least 2.2 lbs passed over Calif coast N of Santa Barbara also traveling E-NE, the researchers concluded. They think it traveled N of Bakersfield (CA) and disappeared in the Sequoia Nat'l Forest N of Kernville. Its disappearance from the sky was noted by a group of students and teachers from Flintridge Prep School in La Canada, who were camping along Lower Peppermint Creek in the forest. The meteor's latitude over Calif was the same as it was over NM, a necessary condition if it had been in orbit, Wasson said. Finally, he noted, the longitudinal distance between the two sightings was 25 deg, the amount Earth turns on its axis in 100 min. "We can't be 100% certain that it was the same object, but there are too many similarities for it to be a coincidence", he said. Wasson doesn't know for certain if the rock reached the ground. If it did, houwever, he and his colleagues would like to see it-so much so that they pooled their resources to offer a reward. Pieces from the meteorite could have fallen anywhere along the ground track of the object, he said. They would probably be about the size of a pea or a grape and have a matte black crust. It it struck something on the ground, part of the crust might have chipped off, revealing a lighter interior. Anyone who thinks they have found such a piece may contact Wasson by e-mail: wasson@igpp.ucla.edu or by regular mail at UCLA. Whew. that's it. Hope you all find the story interesting and or useful. Joseph

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