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Enormous Fireball in Skies of Northwest, Documented on Oregon Coast Video

Published 10/13/22 at 6:34 PM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Enormous Fireball in Skies of Northwest, Documented on Oregon Coast Video

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(Lincoln City, Oregon) – Witnesses around the Pacific Northwest – including some parts of the Oregon coast – caught glimpses of a stellar (and interstellar) rarity last night: a fireball in the sky. (Still photo from video by Lincoln City Police Department)

Jim Todd, astronomy expert with Portland's OMSI, said some actually heard a boom with the bright object, following its disappearance in the sky.

The fireball was noted in at least two parts of the Oregon coast: at Lincoln City and Newport, with the Lincoln City Police Department catching it on a patrol car dash cam. Other footage has come from as far north as Seattle. Witnesses from northern Washington down through at least southern Oregon have reported in.

The fireball hit the skies at 10:16 p.m. on October 12, high above the northwest horizon, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS). It was a magnitude -2.0 to -4.0, according to witnesses. A full moon is a magnitude `-12.6, while extremely bright stars like Venus and Jupiter are -2.0 to -4.0.

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Todd said like a typical fireball it lasted about two seconds.

Its appearance was green, which comes from nickel, the AMS said.

“The most common metallic meteors are iron-nickel, so green is a common color,” the society said. “This glow tends to be brightest when meteors hit the atmosphere at high speed.”

On 10/12/22 around 10:16PM, Sgt Liden was returning to the Lincoln City Police Department and captured a meteor with his dash camera. The meteor emitted a bright green light and looked similar to a flare in the sky. See below!

Posted by Lincoln City Police Department on Thursday, October 13, 2022

It was likely some 60 to 120 miles above the earth, based on reports.

While this is a bit of a rare sight, it's not entirely unexpected. There are a few meteor showers careening through the skies right now: the tail end of the Draconids and the often-bright Orionids, as well as the Southern Taurids, and Northern Taurids. It's like a meteor smorgasboard up there, for viewers along the Oregon coast and elsewhere.

The Orionids are known for their larger-than-usual meteors, often leaving long trails as well. But they can also produce fireballs, which are defined as larger objects that burn up in the atmosphere, not just dust. This shower reaches its peak on October 21 – 22, and the weather along the Oregon coast, Washington coast and much of inland looks largely cooperative for such nighttime viewing.

See Oregon Coast Weather - Washington Coast Weather

Dust from Halley's Comet creates the Orionids, which can be rather dense as the Earth passes through the trail.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection spotted one of these rather rare fireballs in Portland one night in the wee hours back in 2021, which you can read about here Fireball Puts on Rare Show for a Few in Oregon, Washington - But Not Coastline. The publication actually wound up part of the story, getting interviewed by other regional media. Others were able to confirm the sight by their doorbell cams.

Asking OMSI's Todd about it at the time, he told Oregon Coast Beach Connection the 2021 event is also known as a bolide:

“A fireball is the result of a single object in the Earth's atmosphere, most likely an asteroid,” Todd said. “They start out a meteoroid and then they enter the Earth's atmosphere and become a meteor. Now what defines a bolide is something bigger than an average meteor shower, which is like a grain of sand, and they go in clusters.”

The object would be one meter or larger.

Todd said this recent sighting on the Oregon coast was not a bolide because there was apparently no fragmentation nor a terminal flash at the end.

Scientists say you may have a chance at spotting another like this one in the coming nights because of the Orionids.

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