Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Help me determine the characteristics of a meteorite I watched burn up in the sky

  1. Sep 21, 2012 #1

    I have figured out the basics so far, but perhaps someone could help me figure out a bit more.

    I observed this meteorite moving across the sky, looking like a low airplane glowing bright bright orange. from the american meteor site (http://www.amsmeteors.org/fireballs/faqf/#1), this likely indicates it was a slower moving rock containing sodium.

    In about 3 seconds it traversed 5 degrees of arc, before winking out altogether at roughly an angle of 30 degrees to the horizon. Rock stops ablating around 2km/s, so I roughly estimate its height to be around 32km at a direct line of distance of 68km.

    The object itself was moving at roughly 10 degrees below horizontal.

    Using this, is it possible to find out how fast it was travelling when it first entered the atmosphere?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 21, 2012 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The average velocity of meteors in the solar system is pretty consistent. The main variable is the direction of approach to earth. If you assume the average velocity is about 40,000 km/sec discounting earth velocity relative to the direction of approach you will be in the right range. Meteors observed before midnite are generally traveling more slowly relative to earth than meteors that enter the atmosphere after midnite.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook