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Is it possible I saw a luminous cosmic ray track?

  1. Jul 26, 2012 #1
    Last month my sister and I were driving down a Maine highway to visit relatives up North. As we were chatting, I saw a perfectly straight, narrow, luminous line appear momentarily in front of the tree line (on the order of 100 meters away). It lasted just long enough to see and then it was gone... 100ms at most. It seemed instantaneous instead of striking like lightning and it was much less bright. I recall it being white and featureless with no branching or taper. There was also no discernible thunderclap.

    We both saw and reacted to this immediately. She reported the same although she couldn't confirm it was in front of the tree line.

    I suppose it could have been a micrometeorite coming in extremely fast but I just can't imagine it being that clean and quick after penetrating the entire atmosphere.

    Is it possible a highly energetic cosmic ray could have caused a luminous track? Alternate explanations are welcome.

    I should mention that storm clouds were tumbling above with light intermittent rain and sparse lightning strikes. Maybe a cosmic ray provided a ground path for a small discharge from the clouds?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 26, 2012 #2
    It's possible that it was a small discharge, I'd be much more surprised if you saw cosmic rays, I don't think thats possible.

    My bet is that it was a micrometeorite and it happened too fast for you to accurately discern the distance.
  4. Jul 27, 2012 #3
    Not really, cosmic rays are atomic sized particles.

    If you were the only one that saw it, then it could have been a cosmic ray hitting your retina......


    But since someone else saw it, that doesn't work.

    I'm for a meteorite. It's going to be moving at several km/s, so that's going to produce a straight line.
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