Tuesday, 16 July 2024

BEST OF THE WEB: Multiple meteor fireballs seen over Melbourne, Australia on July 3


Melburnians were treated to a remarkable sight on Wednesday night, as a “huge” meteor lit up the sky.
Melburnians were treated to a remarkable sight on Wednesday night, as a “huge” meteor lit up the sky.
Experts say back-to-back sightings of multiple fireballs detected across Victoria overnight were purely coincidental.

The events were detected by the Global Fireball Network — an Australia-wide network of cameras designed to track meteoroids entering the atmosphere.

Monash University professor and member of the network Andy Tomkins said the first sighting came in just before 6:30pm, followed by another about 9pm and two more just after 4am.

Dozens of Victorians reported spotting meteors across several locations including in the suburbs of Frankston, Footscray and Seaford.

"That's not uncommon with large fireballs, because they burn up in the upper atmosphere quite high up in the sky," Professor Tomkins said.


"Because they're so high up, they can be seen from a long way away, meaning different people report them."

He said they can typically appear in the sky for one to three seconds.

'Bit of a fluke', expert says

Although the meteors were highly visible, they were not large enough to hit the ground as a meteorite, astronomer at Swinburne University of Technology Allan Duffy said.

It startled the cows, intrigued the locals and excited scientists around the world. Fifty years on, the Murchison meteorite still defines a town and yields new discoveries every year.

"[It's] quite unusual to have two highly visible fireballs in the same location so close over the same space, so close in time," he said.

Professor Tomkins said the fireballs were not part of a meteor shower, instead they originated from asteroids.

"Since they were on distinctly different orbits, we know that they were not related to a common origin, such as breaking off a larger structure," he said.

But he said the appearance of several in the same location was a "bit of a fluke".

"It's just purely coincidence this time," he said.

He said experts do rely on the public to report the sightings and send in videos.

"The public's response is actually really useful ... it's been really good to see so many people reporting in."

The International Meteor Organization has also listed several pending reports from Victorians who spotted the meteors on Wednesday night.
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