2018-10-5 : EMO Courtenay Fireball

A major meteor fireball was recorded from my backyard observatory known as EMO Courtenay which is part of the Sky Sentinel LLC network run by the Florida Institute of Technology.  Previously this was part of the Sandia National Labs fireball network that tracked bright flashes in our upper atmosphere for the Department of Defence in the U.S.A.  My station is: goskysentinel.com/node/node53

This fireball was recorded at 11:02 p.m. on the 2nd October 2018 or UTC 10/03/2018 – 06.02.16 which is Coordinated Universal Time.  We are looking for information by observers of this event, especially possible recordings  by security cameras before the video tapes are over written.  This is so we can calculate a possible drop zone for a meteorite that may have survived to land on the ground.  Attached is a photo of the fireball recorded with my All-sky Camera.  North is at the top with East on the Left!  Please forward to radio stations on the Island.

Ed Majden

EMO Observatory

Courtenay, B.C. CANADA V9N-5R8


2017-11-12 : Crawford Bay Meteorite – by Rick Nowell

Dr. Alan Hildebrand (a meteorite expert at the University of Calgary) has released photos of some small Crawford Bay meteorite fragments on CBC.  His grad student, Fabio found them.  It was a stony chondrite.  There are lots more pieces to find.  Alan says:

Finding rocks about the size of a loonie across a 20-kilometre stretch of forest is no easy task.  But this case was different because of the video footage.  “We know what orbit it fell from… and that’s only been done a couple dozen times,” Hildebrand said.  “So we now know what orbit this rock was on and that, of course, tells us a little bit about the structure of our solar system.”

Thousands of fragments, ranging from the size of a peppercorn to a bowling ball, will have hit the ground – but Hildebrand says most will be in the forest that blankets the eastern shore of Kootenay Lake.  He expects people will be finding fragments in the area for several years.

READ MORE Dr Hildebrand’s news release.

Where approximately to look?

Triangulating with these videos now locates the fireball trajectory in the sky with ~200 m uncertainty along a path 120 km long, recording its deceleration from 16 to 4 km/s.  Once the rock has slowed to <4 km/s it no longer produces light entering what is called “dark flight”.  Dr. Elizabeth Silber of Brown University calculated the surviving rocks’ paths as they fell to Earth pushed by atmospheric winds.

The predicted meteorite fall zone – what researchers call a strewn field – is  ~20 km long starting east of Crawford Bay and trending NNW across Bluebell Mountain to the Kootenay Lake shore north of Riondel.  The largest meteorites will be in the north.

Where are the meteorites?

With the prediction of where meteorites would have fallen, the U of C team headed into the search area and found the first meteorite on Oct. 29 on private fields in northeastern Crawford Bay.  Fabio Ciceri, a visiting M.Sc. student from the University of Milan made the first meteorite discovery.  Fabio says “At first I couldn’t believe it – ever since I was a child I got up with my father to see the night sky, and it was like a dream to hold a space rock in my hand.

A meteorite chunk was found by Fabio Ciceri, a masters student from the University of Milan who is studying at the University of Calgary. (Colin Hall/CBC)

The U of C team kept searching, but the approaching winter has made finding meteorites more challenging.

Dr. Hildebrand says, “We need to recover more and larger meteorites to learn what we can from this fall.  For example, with enough pieces we can tell how big the rock was when it entered the atmosphere.

Thousands of meteorites will have fallen ranging from the size of a peppercorn up to rocks weighing 5 to 10 kgs, but most will be in the forest that blankets the eastern lake shore.  To understand the challenge Hildebrand recommends standing on the main street of Crawford Bay looking north to the southern end of Bluebell Mountain, “More than one hundred meteorites are on that slope, all you have to do is find them.”.  And he expects that interested people will be finding meteorites in the forest across the strewnfield for years.

The U of C researchers also are still encouraging anyone running security or wildlife cameras in the Riondel area to check their cameras (Sept. 4 fireball start time of ~22:11:25 PDT) to see if they captured the light and shadows cast by the fireball.  This will help them check the fireball’s end location so more accurate fall locations can be predicted for the largest pieces.


A Brief History of the B.C. Fireball Network

At this time I was involved in meteor spectroscopy and had posted many messages on this on various web sites, mostly on meteorobs trying to get people interested in meteor spectroscopy.  To my surprise I received an e-mail from Richard Spalding at Sandia, asking if I would be interested in operating an All-sky Video Detection Camera to record fireballs.  I immediately told Jeremy Tatum about this offer and he contacted Richard to get more details on this.  Shortly after that, four all-sky cameras were delivered to us  One was set up at University of Victoria, operated by David Balam, a research associate at UVic, another was sent to William Weller a professor at Malaspina University College (now Vancouver Island University) in Nanaimo, the other to me in Courtenay, and the fourth unit was set up in Woodinville Wa operated by Ajai Sehgal.  Mike Hale joined our group as he had built his own all-sky camera which was located on Gabriola Island.

Here is a clip from the Times Colonist paper Wednesday 3 June 1998.  This is the first official announcement of the B.C. Network which of course included Ajai’s site in Woodinville Wa.

Small Newspaper article

Here is our first success recording a mutual fireball event:

First capture1



David Balam did the analysis using IRAF software.

The original camera used a silvered convex mirror which had its own problems.  Accurate elevation of the start and end point of a fireball was difficult to arrive at as angles are compressed as you get closer to the horizon.  Also, few background stars that would be useful as calibration reference points were difficult to obtain. A program was written by a fellow at the University of Alberta to help with this but it was not used by us.  Sandia later distributed fisheye all-sky cameras which eliminated the geometry problems of the convex but they also lack detection of background stars for calibration reference points.  This is being worked on by stacking images to bring out reference stars.  Ken Tapping and Jeff Brower are working on calibrating their cameras and once this is successful this will be done for other camera sites.  The B.C. All-sky Network has expanded to various sites on the mainland greatly increasing coverage and usefulness of the network.  This is a work in progress.  When Jeremy Tatum retired he asked me to be the unofficial co-ordinator of the B.C. Network and I have done this as best I can.  Others have since taken over this responsibility  as they have the mathematical and computing skills that I don’t possess.

Ed Majden
Courtenay B.C. Station.

2017-4-19 : Passing Asteroid of 19 Apr 2017

Ken Tapping, April 19, 2017

On 19 April an asteroid will pass close by. At its closest it will be less than five times the distance of the Moon. The asteroid, named 2014 JO25, is about 600 metres across. It will scoot across our northern sky in a few hours, moving at 33.5 km/s. It will be closest to us at 08:24 EDT, 05:24 PDT. However, to see it you’ll need a telescope.

If it were made of basalt, like the Moon, it would have a mass of some 300 million tonnes. This is the biggest object in about 13 years to pass this close. A rough estimate suggests on average we could be hit by something that size every million years or so. Such an event would certainly be a disaster, but it would not be likely to endanger our existence. Smaller objects pass within that distance every week and on average one of them could hit us every 80 years.

The Moon is peppered with craters due to impacts. The Earth has been hit at least as often, but weathering and the continuous recycling of the Earth’s surface due to subduction and the emergence of new land surface have erased most of them. However, there are still conspicuous craters on the Earth’s surface. These cosmic collisions are not unusual; they are just part of the ongoing process of planet building.

The Earth itself was formed through impacts, as dust and progressively larger lumps of material smashed together some 4.6 billion years ago. Some of that material contained ice, which brought us the water to make our oceans. Fortunately most of that primordial “building material” has been used, but there are still pieces of it orbiting the Sun. A piece of this material some 12km across smashed down in the Sudbury area in Ontario about 1.8 billion years ago. The geological disturbance brought a wealth of minerals closer to the surface and concentrated them.

One of the most well-known and dramatic impacts occurred about 64 million years ago. After 180 million years of stability, environmental change and habitat loss was putting many species, such as the dinosaurs and ammonites into a steady decline. Then a 10km diameter asteroid hit the Earth, leading to such a rapid environmental change that 75% of species became extinct, including the dinosaurs and ammonites. In 1908 something entered the atmosphere and exploded over Tunguska, Siberia. Over 2000 square kilometres were flattened, and glasses rattled on shelves in Paris, France. A tiny difference in arrival time could have put that impact in Europe.

Today, our species dominates the Earth. Feeding ourselves and providing for our other needs involves heavily exploiting our planet’s resources. That means we are becoming increasingly vulnerable to any sort of environmental disaster. Can we do anything to reduce the impact risk? This involves two problems: detecting impact threats and then somehow mitigating them.

Small, dark objects on a dark background are hard to see. We usually detect them just in time to watch them sail past. Current radar methods are no better. In principle we can use our observations to assess the possibilities of future collisions. This is rendered difficult by all our data being obtained over a tiny part of the orbit, and the perturbation of that orbit by little tugs by the other planets. This means that unless we can give threatening asteroids a really big “shove”, changing the orbit by more than the uncertainties in our calculations, we might turn a miss into a hit. Unfortunately, as yet we don’t know how to give objects with masses of millions of tonnes a big shove. Blowing them up, as in the movies, would just turn one threat into many. However, the detection and mitigation of cosmic impact threats are getting a lot of attention.

Ken Tapping is an astronomer at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory, Penticton, BC.

2017-3-16: Fireball of Thursday 16 Mar 2017 at 9:39pm Pacific Time

A Meteor fireball fell over Central Washington State, and broke up over the Colville Reservation north of Yakima. The bright fireball was seen by many people from Vancouver Island , Vancouver, Seattle, and as far East as Spokane, Washington.  The American Meteor Society received 116 reports of “a fireball” over Washington, B.C., Idaho and Oregon.

Vancouver time that was  Thursday March 16, 2017 at 9:39pm.  People described a green tail turning briefly yellow, followed by a quick double flash at it broke up.

Kathy M. wrote on the  AMS site: “It was so amazing and beautiful. I’ve seen small, white falling stars before but never anything like this….large bright green with a huge white tail. Very cool.”  http://www.amsmeteors.org/members/imo_view/event/2017/1012

 Colour VIDEO:  Tammy Kwan, a Vancouver weekly newspaper Georgia Straight reporter, posted her dashcam video to YouTube she was driving on Lougheed Highway in Pitt Meadows.  See

Many of The Meteor Network All sky cameras across BC and Washington picked it up at 17 Mar 2017 at 04:39 UTC :

Bellview Wash (just a flash through clouds) at 04:39 UTC


Victoria Allsky 17 Mar 2017

Victoria Allsky

Victoria BC  at 04:39

Cranbrook Allsky Photo

Cranbrook Allsky

Cranbrook BC at 04:39;

West Kelowna Allsky Photo

Kelowna Allsky

West Kelowna BC at 04:39.

Prince George BC at 04:53.  (Their clock may be out).

The Anarchist Mtn, and Richland, Wash sites weren’t online.  The Courtney BC site didn’t see it.

TRIANGULATION: On these Allsky photos, North is at the top, and East is on the left.  Knowing the location of the photos, and from their directions, we can triangulate where the meteor was.  If you get your ruler out and draw intersecting lines on a map, it appears South of Kelowna BC, in Central Washington, over the Colville Reservation.  In this case, it’s unlikely it hit the ground.

A second smaller meteor was seen to the North on 03/17/2017 at 04:53 UT, 14 minutes afterward.



2016-8-11 : Perseid Meteor Shower Thursday 11 Aug 2016

The college meteor camera is already seeing more bright meteors zipping overhead. The Perseid meteor shower started July 17, ends Aug 24 but peaks on Thursday night, August 11 and Friday morning Aug 12. If it’s cloudy Thursday, note that Wednesday night and Friday night will also be very active.

Meteor Flare Over Moon

Meteor Flare Over Moon





This year the Earth will cross the centre of the comet debris; so we should get the full show. We should also get three additional early peaks: Jupiter’s gravity has shifted some debris; and we’ll see debris from the 1862 and 1479 comet ejection trails to hit this year. Peak estimates (by Esko Lyytinen and Mikhail Maslov) are 150 to 160 meteors per hour, about three per minute.

There are four peaks in two waves; we’ll miss the first wave since it hits Thursday in daylight; and the last wave which hits in Friday’s morning light. But the whole night should be pretty constant at 100 meteors/hour. Best seeing times in the East Kootenays would be after midnight once the Moon sets (low in Scorpius) and the skies darken; continuing until dawn at 5am. We’ll miss the last wave at 7am. But these peak times are estimates, we can hope they arrive during darkness instead.

(Mountain Daylight Savings Time-- minus 1 hr for Pacific)
1.  Thurs Aug 11 at 4:34pm [1862 comet trail]
2.  Aug 11 at 5:24pm [1479 comet trail]
3.  Aug 11 from 6 to 10pm [Jupiter shifts]
4.  Fri Aug 12 from 7 to 9am [Centre of comet orbit].

It takes the Earth a week to pass through all the ice and dust from comet Swift-Tuttle. The shower will gradually taper off and end by Aug 24. The meteors are travelling at a speed of 59 km/s when they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. Their trails will all point to Perseus (if it’s a Perseid). The closer they are, the smaller their trail: and the further away, the longer the trail. Look for their colours—at high speed they ionize the air to a green; then that fades to yellow, orange, red as it slows down. If they disrupt and flare, you may see green/bluish wide streaks that glow afterward for a second or two (mainly it’s water ice, but there may be metals present like copper or cobalt).

Allsky Cam Meteor Images Aug 11-12










Allsky Cam Meteor Images Aug 11-12

Where to look? The composite photo above shows the entire sky, and all the meteors that fell on 11 and 12 Aug 2015 over Cranbrook; taken by our college meteor camera. Perseus is the constellation to the North East (middle left side of the photo). Normally there are fewer meteors seen straight overhead, since there is less volume of atmosphere overhead. There are slightly more meteors seen high to the West around Hercules and above the handle of the big dipper; since the meteor trails are longer there, and the meteors skim lower in a greater volume of atmosphere. That’s where I aim my cameras. (Or where it’s darkest, away from the Moon or city streetlight glow).

Allsky Captures Stacked for 13 Aug 2015










Allsky Captures Stacked for 13 Aug 2015

Some of the meteors seen will be from the k-Cygnids running from August 6–19. These peak on August 18 at 3 meteors per hour. They show a number of slow falling fireballs moving at 25km/second.

Small Fireball from Cygnus

Small k-Cygnid Fireball Crossing Cygnus

This photo shows a k-Cygnid meteor crossing through Cygnus the Swan as seen during the last Perseid shower of 2015 (it’s tail is short and it points from Cygnus). Photo taken with a Nikon D100, Tamron 28mm f/2.5 lens, 30 second exposure. I outlined Cygnus in yellow against the Milky Way. The bright star Deneb is the tail at top, and Albireo is the beak at bottom. Photo credit: Rick Nowell.

Starmap of Northeast Sky with Perseus for 13Aug

Starmap of Northeast Sky with Perseus for 13Aug

While you’re out stargazing, here is a starmap showing the Perseus region of the sky, looking Northeast late after midnight in August. The Milky Way band (grey in the map) runs through Perseus; who is the Greek hero coming to rescue Andromeda (daughter of Cassiopeia) who is chained to the rocks. Look below the W of Cassiopeia (the Queen of Ethiopia). You should also see the great square of Pegasus, the winged horse to the right. If you have good eyes (or binoculars), you can spot the fuzzy cloud of the Andromeda Galaxy (M31 in the Map) just above Andromeda’s stick-figure knee. (Andromeda’s head is one corner of the square of Pegasus.) The big dipper, little dipper and Polaris are easy to locate to the left. (Starmap generated by Skyglobe software).

Note: to zoom in a picture or map and see the lines, right-click and open in new tab.

2015-12-14 : Geminid Meteor Shower 14 Dec 2015

The best and most reliable meteor shower of the year are the Geminids at 120 meteors per hour on early Monday December 14. The second best are the Quadrantids at 120/hr on January 4 but these last only for a few hours. The Perseids are better known, since they occur on August 13 when it’s nice and warm out. But they’re actually number three on the list at 100 meteors per hour.

Since the new Moon occurs on Dec 11, the sky will be dark so we should see even the fainter meteors. The peak should occur around 10am in the morning, Dec 14, persisting for 24 hours. But 2am is fine when the shower’s radiant point, Gemini, rises high in the sky to the East. The meteors are the sand, dust and gravel remains of an Apollo asteroid (3200 Phaethon), coming in at medium speeds of 35km/second. (That’s a medium speed for a meteor. Other meteor shower velocities range from 11 to 72 km/s.) The Geminids come in various colours–65% being white, 26% yellow, and the remaining 9% blue, red and green. They’re active from Dec 4 until Thursday Dec 17. Last night I saw a bright yellow tinted fireball zip across Orion crossing a quarter of the Southern sky, leaving a shorter glowing trail along the last third of it’s flight; and another fireball went across Taurus just two minutes later. Last night I saw a bright yellow tinted fireball zip across Orion crossing a quarter of the Southern sky, leaving a shorter glowing trail along the last third of it’s flight; and another fireball went across Taurus just two minutes later.

Which direction is best to look? Where it’s darkest. As you can see in these composite photos from last year, the fireballs scatter all over the sky, radiating out from Gemini to the East. But when you watch the area around Gemini, the streaks there are shorter and slower moving. These fisheye photos show the whole sky as a circle: North is up, South down, East to the left, and West to right.

Geminids from 14 Dec 2014 









Geminids during the night of 14 Dec 2014

Geminids from 15 Dec 2014 Stacked 









Geminids during the night of 15 Dec 2014

These photos were taken from Cranbrook, BC with the College of the Rockies meteor cam.

Geminid Meteors Towards North and Big Dipper

Geminid Meteors Towards North and Big Dipper

Below is a starmap looking East around 11pm on Dec 14. Note Gemini the Twins rising due East, just left of Orion the Hunter. Look for two bright stars, Castor over top of the other, Pollux. Gemini the Twins used to be a benevolent guide for the ancient Sailers. In movies you sometimes hear old sailors exclaim “By Jiminy!”. Sirius is the very bright star along the SouthEastern horizon below Orion. Taurus the Bull is the “>” shape above Orion, with the red eye of Aldebaran. The Pleiades are a small fuzzy patch above that.

Starmap for 14 Dec 2015 Looking East

Starmap for 14 Dec 2015 Looking East

These pictures are pixelated to fit in this small window–right click and open image in a new tab to zoom in more.

2015-11-13 : WT1190F – Play by Play BLOG

015-11-13 : 10:21 PST. Splashdown was last night at 22:19  PST in SRI LANKA off coast of Matara. Was late evening on USA Westcoast Thursday. Please enjoy my Blog. This is a conversation between young post-grad scientist Subath Amaradasa of the “Near Earth Objects” Team at the University of Ruhuna, who is on ground with French scientists from European Space Agency and William Smith who is the Hoyle-Shield coordinator at Cattle Point DARK SKY Urban Star Park, Victoria, Canada.

PS There will be a post script to the Snoopy event. Snoopy is almost certainly the Apollo 10 lunar lander – aka Snoopy. Its orbit which reaches way past the moon, makes this almost certain. No wonder it burned out. Very high speed entering the upper atmosphere. Ten times the speed of the fastest bullet on earth. Being small and with no shielding, no wonder it quickly burned out. Thanks to Rick Nowell for inspiring Subath Amaradasa and his “Near Earth Object” team at the University of Ruhuna in Matara, Sri Lanka.

WT1190F Splashdown Friday

(Email from Cattle Point Dark Sky Urban Star Park volunteer William Smith)

Dear Gerhard Drolshagen : On the Orbit of WT1190F (aka Snoopy)

Does object  get captured weeks before and go into earth’s orbit, slowly losing speed and descending? OR does it come shooting directly into the earth’s atmosphere – almost perpendicular to a tangent  ie pointing at the earth’s centre?  This is important because if it orbits the earth one or two times as it slows down, then we might see it in the dark of the late evening where we are on West Coast of North America..

Look here :https://www.pinterest.com/pin/564357397034893195/


If you look at the ISS paths then focus in on the one which crosses southern India, this might indicate that SNOOPY (coming also NW-> SE) would pass over Panana, Bahamas, Northern Spain , Mediterranean and then IRAN . No luck for west coast of USA/Canada where I am.

Hello Bill,
Gerhard Drolshagen forwarded your message to me. Here is some of the info we have on WT1190F.

The object has been in Earth’s orbit at least since 2009. It has been moving in an elongated orbit with apogee at about twice the distance of the Moon, and perigee getting closer and closer to the Earth, until the upcoming re-entry. Since 2009, it has completed dozens of orbits around the Earth, and each orbit is about a month long.
The impact trajectory is not very vertical, but still much steeper than the typical re-entry of a low-orbiting satellite. It will come in with an angle of about 20° from the horizontal (=70° from vertical).

Given the fact that the orbit is so long, the geometry is totally different from a pass of the ISS. The latter orbits the Earth in about 90 minutes, while WT1190F takes weeks. So the current pass is actually the last part of the last orbit for this object.
Anyway, from a geometry point of view, it will definitely be observable from north America in the morning hours of November 12. However, it will be very faint, magnitude 19 or so, invisible by eye even with a large telescope. A CCD camera and at least a moderate-size telescope will be needed to get an image of it at that time.
Even for Europe and Northern Africa, which are the countries best-placed to observe it just hours before impact, it will only reach magnitude 15 or so, too faint for anything but images with a good telescope.

If you want to get an ephemeris for a specific site, I suggest you use this page from the Minor Planet Center:http://www.minorplanetcenter.net/iau/artsats/artsats.html. Just select WT1190F, enter the required information, and you will get your specific ephemeris based on the latest data.

Let us know if you need any additional info, and thanks for contacting us.

PS Young post-grads : http://hoyleshield.wesmith104.com/?page_id=80

For media : https://plus.google.com/communities/102562881766320685473