110 reports and 6 videos from 3 states
The AMS received 110 reports so far and some spectacular videos displaying a fireball event that occurred over northern California on Friday November 4th, 2022, just before 07:30 PM PDT (2022-11-05 02:30 Universal Time). The initial computer generated trajectory of the AMS #2022-8060 event show the fireball entering the atmosphere some 10 miles west of Weed and terminating just a few miles northwest of Callahan. More accurate results are now available through an analysis conducted by NASA that shows that the meteor was first sighted 48 miles (77km) above the town of Fort Jones. Moving to the south at 32,000 miles per hour (51,500km/h), the object causing the fireball only managed to travel 29 miles in the upper atmosphere before fragmenting at an altitude of 28 miles (45km) above the hills just to the west of Callahan. Unlike most of the many sightings reported this week, this meteor was not part of the Taurid meteor shower.
There are reports in the news that this fireball reached the ground and destroyed a structure near Harry L. Englebright Lake, which is approximately 50 miles north of Sacramento, CA. As you can see from the map, this fireball passed well north of this area and could not possibly be related to this incident. Confirmation from NASA also discounts this story as this fireball totally disintegrated while still well up in the atmosphere.
A fireball is a meteor that is larger and brighter than normal. Most meteors are only the size of tiny pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce the light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than any round fired from a firearm. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. We normally receive about 100 reports each day. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as these short-lived events also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another one of these bright meteors even though, this event wasn’t from a known meteor shower. In this case, the meteor is called “sporadic”.
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If you want to learn more about Fireballs: read our Fireball FAQ.
The map below displays just how widely this object was visible from 4 states: California, Nevada and Oregon. Visit the event page for this fireball to view the videos and read comments from the witnesses.
So far, we received 6 videos of this fireball – all accessible from the event page.
Several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day. The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight. Those that occur at night also stand little chance of being detected due to the relatively low numbers of persons out to notice them.
Additionally, the brighter the fireball, the more rare is the event. As a general thumb rule, there are only about 1/3 as many fireballs present for each successively brighter magnitude class, following an exponential decrease. Experienced observers can expect to see only about one fireball of magnitude -6 (crescent moon) or better for every 200 hours of meteor observing, while a fireball of magnitude -4 (Venus) can be expected about once every 20 hours or so.