Hey! That’s my fireball!

Fireball image captured at 11:36 PM EDT, August 11, 2020 by Hiram’s NASA All-Sky Fireball Network camera. The time stamp in the camera image reads 03:36 UTC — Coordinated Universal Time — which converts to 11:36 PM EDT. Credit: NASA


by James Guilford

Hey! That’s my fireball!!

I had stepped outdoors to check the sky (hoping to see at least one Perseid Meteor) and witnessed a fireball  at 11:36 PM; it was captured by the NASA All-Sky Fireball Network camera system hosted by Hiram College. That was the first time I had spotted a meteor that was also captured by the automated camera. The “shooting star” is not very impressive in the picture but it was a beauty by eye, glowing brightly and leaving a long “smoke trail” as it traveled from south to north.

Below is a summary of the data the NASA system was able to derive from Hiram, Oberlin College, and Allegheny Observatory imagery. Rather than a Perseids meteor, it was classified as an Alpha Capricornids meteor — that shower peaked in late July.

Data Summary for the fireball recorded at 11:36 PM EDT, August 11, 2020. Credit: NASA


If you are interested in NASA’s All-Sky Fireball Network, here’s a link to their website. Meteor data are updated daily with image captures and event summaries. Hiram’s is one of 17 all-sky cameras located in the continental U.S. https://fireballs.ndc.nasa.gov.

On August 13, 2013, Hiram College became the host for one of NASA’s All-Sky Camera Fireball Network stations, Oberlin College and Allegheny Observatory joining with us. The automated camera system watches the sky every night for exceptionally-bright meteors called fireballs.

James Guilford operates Stephens Memorial Observatory for the Physics Department of Hiram College.


Fireball seen over Hiram the night of June 11

Photo: Fireball Recorded June 11, 2016, at 10:17 PM EDT. Credit: NASA
Fireball Recorded June 11, 2016, at 10:17 PM EDT – Bright patch is the Moon – Credit: NASA


The NASA All-Sky Fireball Network camera at Hiram College captured the passage of a very bright meteor over Hiram on June 11 at 10:17 PM. The extremely bright meteor or “fireball” was also recorded by the NASA camera located on the campus of Oberlin College. Fireballs are meteors that flare brighter than the planet Venus shines. It is likely the glowing streak seen here was caused by a bit of material, possibly the size of a tiny pebble, vaporizing as it crashed into Earth’s upper atmosphere at extreme speed. A witness to the event wrote, “I never saw anything like this one… It was beautiful.”