NUFORC Home Page
Web Report Indexes : by Event Date | by Location | by Shape | by Posting Date

National UFO Reporting Center
Sighting Report
Occurred : 1/6/2011 18:43 (Entered as : 01/06/2011 18:43)
Reported: 1/7/2012 12:12:27 AM 00:12
Posted: 1/12/2012
Location: Dayton, VA
Shape: Unknown
Duration:15 seconds
Large meteor passes earth

Time: anywhere between 6:42 - 6:44 PM Eastern Standard Time Location: Dayton VA, 22821 Did the world nearly end while I was enjoying a smoke? At around 6:40PM Eastern Standard Time, I went outside to have a ciggarette. A few minutes later I looked up about 15 degrees west of overhead to see what looked to me to be initially, a bright moving star. It was too far away to be an aircraft and was obviously both too high and moving too fast. It was about as bright as Jupiter in the night sky its color was white with a very slightly yellow tint giving off a near constant light, but dimming as it approached the horizon. I remember distinctly that the object was moving faster when it was over head, than when it was off closer to the horizon. The object dimmed in a regular (almost linear) fashon.

The path of the object started from about 15 degrees west from overhead, and continued to about 45 degrees over the southwestern horizon before fading away. The whole occurance occured over about a 15 second long period.

I thought to myself; "what if that's an asteroid?" I thought this was potentially accurate because typically meteors move faster, and are only visible when they burn up in the night sky, and usually they leave a streak. This was just a bright object like a star. Leading me to infer that what was producing the light was was reflection from the sun. I wasn't sure exactly how big an object had to be to reflect an amount of light bright enough to be mistaken for a bright star but I assume it has to be at least 30 feet in diameter. So I believe the object was rather large, perhaps as large as a plane or maybe much bigger.

I supposed it might be the International Spacestation. But from what I know the spacestation moves in a roughly opposite direction from the object I saw. The object was heading almost exactly southwest.

What I can also infer from my observations was that the object was moving tangentially with respect to the Earth. This would explain both the slowing of the object as it approached the Southwestern horizon, and it would explain the behavior of how it faded away (because it reached an angle with respect to me where the suns light no longer reflected off the object).

The arc length was approximately 30 degrees, maybe more from when I first noticed it. And the whole event lasted about 15 seconds.

Given my observations, I can conclude that in all likelyhood, the object was not an asteroid but it was probably (though not definately) a large meteor.

This conclusion is based upon the theoretical limit for meteor speed, which is roughly 160,000 miles an hour plus or minus 3,000 depending upon its relation to the rotation of the earth at its surface. This theoretical limit itself is based upon escape velocity, or velocity at which objects would not be pulled back in from the sun's gravity.

Not much more can be inferred from my observations without making assumptions because the exact trajectory (particularly along the y-axis {the axis perpindicular from the ground to space}) can not be known.

If I assume delta Y is 0 (which it must approximate to by about plus or minus 30 degrees) then a rough approximation of its distance can be calculated. From my observations I know the arc length was approximately 30 degrees over a period of approximately 15 seconds.

My initial reports were inaccurate both in its trajectory and in the angle to which it faded. After revisiting the scene I can say with some certainty that the object disappeared about 45 degrees above the horizon (not 20-25) and started about 15 degrees from directly overhead (or from when I first noticed it).

Because the object did not appear to burn up or leave a streak, it is safe to infer that the object did not burn up in the atmosphere meaning it was at least 62 miles above me. *62 miles is the approximate distance from the surface of the earth to the outer edge of the atmosphere given the two constrants (maximum speed limit of a meteor and the minimum distance from the surface from the earth, I can make rough approximate limits of its size and speed.

Assuming the smallest possible size of the object (in order to be able to produce that light) is a sphere 30 feet in diameter.

Assuming delta Y of the meteors trajectory is 0.

Assuming delta X is 30 degrees.

Assuming maximum velocity is 160,000 miles an hour. * Assuming minimum distance is 62 miles. * Assuming delta T (or change in time) is 15 seconds.

Assuming the meteor had to be at least 30 feet in diameter. (at a distance of 62 miles) Calculations suggest the distance of the meteor could have been anywhere between 62 miles and 958.27 miles away.Based on assumptions the size of the meteor was 30 feet in diameter at a distance of 62 miles, the maximum potential size would be 463.68 feet in diameter, and it would be traveling at a speed of between 10,351.92 miles an hour to 160,000 miles an hour.

If the absolute maximum assumptions are taken to be true, then it is possible that a small asteroid passed earth. But given how unlikely that is, it is probably more accurate to assume it was probably between 100-250 feet in diameter.

It is also probably safe to assume that the object was larger than the minimum. Due to the unliklihood that a meteor was going slower than what is generally observed with meteors. The range of speed of meteors almost always ranges between 7 and 45 miles a second * if the minimum distance of 62 miles is taken to be true. the speed of the meteor would only be 2.87 miles a second.

Judging from this, the distance was at least 151.22 miles away and was therefore it can be assumed that the object was at least 73.17 feet in diameter.

So did the world nearly end? No in all likelyhood not. Even if the meteor had hit earth, it wasn't nearly large enough to be able to cause serious damage.