9/1/04 8:55:25 PM Pacific Daylight Time


Saw an interesting object entering the atmosphere this evg. Dunno what it was specifically, likely space junk tho. Have seen thousands of meteors over the years (backyard astronomer) but this was unique. Lot's of 'hang time' and a very steep angle.  When I first saw it, thought it was an aircraft landing light because it was so bright and was barely moving.  Then noticed a very liesurely downward track as the brightness increased. Color much like an arc-welder --- brilliant (tungsten) blue-white.  It fell more like a flare, so slow initially, then quickly faded as meteors do. Incandescent area also quite large, roughly the size of a jet landing light. Entry angle was easily 60deg. The hang time was sufficient for me to point it out to my daughter (who was in the back of the car), have her find it and watch it herself.  As you know, meteors are gone so fast. it is almost impossible to point them out to someone who isn't already looking there.

I was just north of Toronto at the time, facing due north. Object was in NNE at approx 030 and approx 35deg azimuth. Object track: roughly 090. Descent angle approx 60deg. Time 21:36 Local (02:26 UTC).

I suspect space junk because that stuff 'falls' comparatively slow and the decent angle steepens as aerodynamic drag slows it down. Also, the arc-welder color would be consistent with a white-hot (tungsten type) metal burning up.

Grist for the mill.