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Strange sight in the night sky

  1. Jul 9, 2003 #1
    Not quite sure where this post should go so I'm putting it here.

    My wife and I were walking the dog the other night and looking toward scorpio we saw a flash of light and then a very broad "vapor trail" like a glowing stripe crossed upwards across the sky. We walked on further and about five minutes later, in just about the same location in the sky, it happened again.

    This time we were near home and I ran inside and got one of my telescopes and looked at the glowing trail. It just appeared to be vapor.

    Here is the dilema. There was no moon and it was about 12:00 at night so the sun was well below the horizon. What made the trail glow? I live in a fairly dark sky area, jets were crossing overhead and not leaving a visible vapor trail. What do you think we saw?

    Could a military jet's afterburner do that?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2003 #2
    You saw a meteor that exploded, usually called a fireball.
    There have been a few reports of glowing trails after this type of occurance. It is often glowing green and emits a "foul odor".

    NASA collected particles from such an occurance in the Yukon area I believe, around 1989, (or 1998?) but I haven't heard of a report from the analysis yet.

    It is probably due to the fact that many meteors contain heavy elements, but I'm not an expert. Maybe Phobos knows more of this phenomonon.

    P.S. Try a google search with this:
    +"meteor" +"vapor trail" +"glowing"

    (edit: Also, a jet's trail probably wouldn't do that.)
  4. Jul 11, 2003 #3
    Why not a meteor?
  5. Jul 11, 2003 #4
    Delta Aquarid Meteor Shower will occur at the end of this month, roughly from July 27 to July 30, peaking at about 2 a.m. Eastern time on the 28th.
    The Persied Meteor Shower will occur a couple weeks later, see the astronomy forum for more info.
  6. Jul 11, 2003 #5
    This sounds like a likely possibility The green glow and all. It had a very unnatural, glowing from the inside, look to it.

    Thanks J-Man.
  7. Jul 12, 2003 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    I had never heard of a foul odor associated with a meteor before. Very interesting!
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