Spectacular Above and On Oregon Coast: Meteors, Fireball, Glowing Sand
(Oregon Coast) – A major fireball happened yesterday morning over the Pacific Northwest, visible from Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Montanta, Alberta and especially the Oregon coast – with much of it centered over the Pacific coast region.
A nice variety of meteors were spotted above the Oregon coast during the recent run of clear nights, and that famed glowing sand phenomenon was also present – at least on the central coast. Above: earlier this week above Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay, where several shooting stars were seen but unfortunately not photographed.
The American Meteor Society said earlier on Wednesday it had received as many as 234 reports of a major fireball over the Pacific Northwest and southwestern Canada about 5:55 a.m. Pacific time. Primarily, it was seen by those in Portland, Oregon, but the society reports there are also many witnesses from Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Idaho, and Montana.
At this time, the society believes the trajectory took it right over the Washington coast. Preliminary indications are it entered over southeastern Washington and flamed out somewhere just west of Seattle.
There was no sonic boom, said Jim Todd of Portland's OMSI. It is a rare event, however.
“A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky,” Todd said. “A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation.”
The Orionids meteor showers are still happening right about now, although its peak was about ten days ago. This would explain a few sightings earlier this week along the central coast, as Oregon Coast Beach Connection cameras were pointed up at the skies.
Closer to the ground, Oregon Coast Beach Connection spotted lots of glowing sand this week in Gleneden Beach. A really dark beach Wednesday night in northern Lincoln City yielded some of the bioluminescent critters, but the tiny were sparks were very faint and few and far between.
Huge amounts of glowing sand were spotted on the north Oregon coast around Arch Cape early in the month (near Cannon Beach), and some in Manzanita.
Upcoming colder, more rainy weather will likely spell the end of that amazing sight for a while. Your chances of seeing this is greater during a run of clear, dry weather.
Glowing sand is caused by bioluminescent phytoplankton called dinoflagellates. They glow in the same way that fireflies glow, but they are microscopic.
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