Skipping meteors

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alrobnett

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At about 9 pm on June 15, I was looking toward Polaris when I saw something I would have guessed was a fast moving firefly, except that it appeared to be moving too fast and flashing too frequently. I first saw it at an azimuth of about 330 degrees and a declination of about 65 degrees (30 degrees below the zenith of 35 degrees at Nashville). It flashed and zipped almost due east through about 5 degrees. Then, almost immediately, it appeared about 10 degrees farther east and flashed again. It went through this cycle about five times before it disappeared for good. Was I watching two fireflies in a game of tag, or do meteors sometimes skip across the atmosphere like a pebble across a pond?
 
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vogon13

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Synchronized Iridium flashes?<br /><br />Fireflies don't usually blink too far off the ground.<br /><br />Didn't happen to make a video did you ?<br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font color="#ff0000"><strong>TPTB went to Dallas and all I got was Plucked !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#339966"><strong>So many people, so few recipes !!</strong></font></p><p><font color="#0000ff"><strong>Let's clean up this stinkhole !!</strong></font> </p> </div>
 
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igorsboss

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During the Leonids of '98, I witnessed something similar. I was lying on my back at the 9000 foot level of Mauna Kea, watching the show. (That was a lot of fun, BTW...)<br /><br />I recal one particularly unusual meteor that shot very quickly, most of the way from one horizon to the other. As it traveled, it seemed to wink on and off several times. The color and direction were consistent with a leonid meteor.<br /><br />My impression at the time was "Wow, that's what cosmic velocity looks like!". Since it winked on and off, my impression was that it was skipping like a stone off of the atmosphere. Also, it did not slow down very much as it went by. If it was indeed skipping, then the altitude of the object was very high, and the actual velocity of the object was phenomenal.<br /><br />There is an alternate explaination, however. Perhaps the object was actually fairly close to me, but travelling far slower than I imagined. This would still account for the rapid travel across the sky. But if this were the cases, what caused the winking effect? Well, perhaps the object was oblong and tumbling. It would glow more brightly as it travelled sideways, than when it was travelling end-on.<br /><br />I can't decide for sure, but I favor the first impression: the object skipped off the atmosphere without slowing down very much.
 
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igorsboss

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My observation was of a meteor winking on and off, while travelling in a very straight line.
 
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tom_hobbes

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I've seen the same thing, very fast series of light pulses in a neat arc across the sky. Gotta be a skimmer! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
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igorsboss

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<font color="yellow">Gotta be a skimmer!</font><br /><br />...or a tumbler.<br /><br />How can we tell a skimmer (or skipper) from a tumbler? What observational evidence would help us decide between the two possibilities?
 
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tom_hobbes

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Easy, if it's spilling a rare scotch whiskey, it's probably a tumbler. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p><font size="2" color="#339966"> I wish I could remember<br /> But my selective memory<br /> Won't let me</font><font size="2" color="#99cc00"> </font><font size="3" color="#339966"><font size="2">- </font></font><font size="1" color="#339966">Mark Oliver Everett</font></p><p> </p> </div>
 
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