I’m breathless. Tonight, watching from the shore of Lake Superior, it seemed the Leonids were a no-show. There were a few remnant streaks, and it was dark and clear overhead, but the horizon was getting quite hazy, and city lights were illuminating that hazy layer. Eventually, our feet started getting cold, and we were talking about to heading back to the house.
Suddenly, a fireball appeared in the sky! We watched it move as if in slow motion: first a smear of brilliant yellow, then GREEN and larger, with distinct sparks! I’ve never seen anything like it. D. recalled that when he was a boy, the fellow who gave sky-gazing talks at the Marquette Planetarium liked to talk about fireballs —Bolides, he called them — but D. never saw one before tonight. A first for both of us!
Apparently, they have been documented before, during the Leonid meteor shower, although we wonder how one captures such an ephemeral event in a photograph, except by dumb luck? Here is what we saw (approximately…. we feel that our Bolide was more green, with a yellow tail, and a distinct mane of sparks):
Bright Bolide, photographed by Howard Edin, Oklahoma Astronomy Club
Leonid Bolide over Kansas, credit: V. Winter & J. Dudley, ICSTARS Astronomy