shooting star last night?

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dsd74

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Hi, I live near Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Last night while sitting outside my wife, our friends and I witnessed a bright flash, like a camera flash, (bright enough to make out detail in the distance) then a very long streak through the sky. I've seen many shooting stars, and a meteor shower or two, but I've never seen anything this spectacular. I don't know much about astronomy, so I was wondering if someone could explain exactly what it was that we saw. We live a little west of Toronto, in a city called Guelph. It was around 10:30 - 11:00 pm July 31, 2005. Any input would be very appreciated. Thanks, DSD74
 
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jayslaughter

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Hello I live in Indiana and also saw the event last night. I believe it was a meteor shower. Saw a few small streaks across the sky and aslo a very large one. It had a very long tail and I could see a few large chunks breaking off of it and than fragmenting it was probably one of the coolest things I had ever seen but I cannot seem to find any info on what it really was.
 
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igorsboss

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Could have been a meteor or a space-junk reentry.<br /><br />One clue to telling the difference is to figure out how fast it was going, and in what direction.<br /><br />Space junk tends to orbit slowly, and tends to move west-to-east, and in some cases, North/South. If your event was travelling East to west, it was probably not space junk.<br /><br />Can each of you report your lattitude and longitude, the time of the brightest flash, and the direction of the brightest flash? To describe the direction of the flash, give the (true, not magnetic) compass direction, and the height of the flash above the horizon (in degrees).<br /><br />If you both witnessed the same event from different places, the times will be the same. If this is true, then perhaps we can triangulate to figure out where the event was...
 
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alokmohan

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What the event was,we should all know.I am interested but dont know sorry.
 
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dsd74

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I really can't help with that info as I have no idea where true north is nor do I know how to deterine the degrees. What I can tell you is that the trail was very long. It traveled south to north, as I know it, probably magnetic. And it was just to the right of the big dipper. Unfortunately, none of us saw the flash directly, we were talking, all saw a flash, then started looking around for the cause. As the flash was behind us, we missed the best show of the streak, but still saw an impressive tail. Due to the time frame and lingering of the tail I have to guess that it was traveling slow, however, I can't confirm that. If anyone can explain to me how to calulate the direction and position in degrees, I can give more accurate information.<br />Thanks, Dsd74.
 
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majornature

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I wish I could have saw it. Darn! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <font size="2" color="#14ea50"><strong><font size="1">We are born.  We live.  We experiment.  We rot.  We die.  and the whole process starts all over again!  Imagine That!</font><br /><br /><br /><img id="6e5c6b4c-0657-47dd-9476-1fbb47938264" style="width:176px;height:247px" src="http://sitelife.space.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/4/6e5c6b4c-0657-47dd-9476-1fbb47938264.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" width="276" height="440" /><br /></strong></font> </div>
 
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igorsboss

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From Toronto, CA, 10:45Pm on 7/31/2005, "just to the right of the big dipper" would be quite close to North.<br /><br />Since it was travelling slow, moving South to North, with multiple very long trails, and may have also been witnessed in Indiana, I would guess that this was a piece of space junk that had been on a polar orbit, which broke up as it reentered the atmosphere.<br /><br />If you can see the Big Dipper, you should be able to see the North Star. This star, Polaris, is within 1 degree of true North.<br /><br />One way to report the position of an object you observe in the sky is to give the Object's "Altitude" and "Azimuth".<br /><br />The Azimuth is simply the compass direction you would face to best see the object. You would use an ordinary compass to figure this out.<br /><br />The "Altitude" is the angle at which the object appears over the horizon, given in degrees. The horizon is at altitude 0 degrees. The point in the sky directly over your head is +90 degrees.<br /><br />From Toronto, Polaris appears due North, about 43 degrees above the Horizon. That is, Polaris has Altitude = 43 degrees, and Azimuth = 0 degrees.<br /><br />You can use your hands to estimate Altitude. Make a fist, and hold it on a fully outstretched arm (not bent!). For most people, the width of one fist is about 10 degrees, but this varies slightly from person to person. Facing the object, starting with a fist at the Horizon, count how many fists it takes to reach the object. For example, it might take you 4 fists, plus a couple of fingers, to go from the Horizon to Polaris. Try it!
 
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dsd74

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That's great information. I will start trying that and mabey read a book or two on the subject. Thanks for taking the time to explain.<br />DSD74
 
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igorsboss

Guest
Iridium flares never leave a trail through the sky, they never break into multiple pieces, never make a sound, and they tend to move across the sky at a fairly slow, constant speed. Their brightness builds, peaks, and wanes so that the peak brightness is in the center of the observation.<br /><br />Meteors, Fireballs, and Bolides can explode, leave trails, and can break into pieces. If it makes a sound, it may be called a Bolide. If it lands, it may be called a meteorite. Their speed across the sky varies from slow to very fast, and can vary. Their peak brightness varies quite a bit.<br /><br />Space junk moves fairly slowly and constantly across the sky, can leave a trail, and can break into pieces. The brightness often remains fairly constant, and may have a repeating pattern if the spacecraft is tumbling. I've never seen one myself, but I've seen movies of Mir and Columbia.<br /><br />Unidentified Flying Objects never leave a trail through the sky, rarely separate into pieces, and may change directions. They may be very brightly lit, and may make a woowoowoowoowoo sound. If they land, and some grey aliens get out, take my word for it: run like hell.
 
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