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Around 6.15am (GMT + 1) on the 6th of February 2019 I was looking out of my window somewhat north, when I saw something one would probably call a shooting star. The features were:

  • A magnitude I haven't seen before; it even had a soft blinding effect, that's how bright it was.
  • From my view frame it moved from my right to my left (so most likely from east to west).
  • The size was a quarter to half of what the moon usually has from my view frame.
  • It traveled almost through the sky half I was able to see within half a second before its glow was immediately gone again.

I am assuming the object must have been either very large and fast or quite close.

Was there any meteor worthy mentioning passing by Earth at that given time?
Or are the features I just described way more common than I am assuming, and I just spotted an event that happens quite regularly?

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  • $\begingroup$ Not sure how one quantifies " mentionable event" . As the answer points out, there are groups which collect reports. $\endgroup$ – Carl Witthoft Feb 6 at 15:37
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft: Well, have you any better Idea how to phrase it, considering when I asked this I had no idea what I was seeing, except that I was sure this wasn't a shooting star in the way I saw them many times before. I could have asked "Did I see a shooting star?" Which would have been worse. "Was this a meteor I saw?".... Obviously it was, what else should it have been? I could have asked "Was what I saw different from a usual shooting star?" Here I expected the answer to get into details and getting an answer along the lines "it was a meteor" What I again knew already. So I asked as I did. $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Feb 8 at 5:34
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Fireballs are real but rare events. Meteors are formed when small rocks enter the atomsphere from space. Larger rocks or small asteroids will produce brighter meteors. The brightest meteors are called fireballs or bolides. It is not uncommon for parts of the rock that made the fireball to survive and can later be found as meteorites.

A couple of things can be confused with fireballs. When satellites re-enter, they can burn up. Satellites move much more slowly than true fireballs, most fireballs last less than 10 seconds.

A comet is an astronomical, not atmospheric, object. It looks like a fuzzy star with a tail. It remains almost motionless in the sky, sometimes for months. Really bright comets are rare, and even the brightest comets are much much dimmer than a fireball.

There are several organisations that collect reports of fireballs:

https://fireball.amsmeteors.org/members/imo/report_intro

https://ukmeteornetwork.co.uk/fireball-report/

The advice given states:

  • Please, don't report sighting that lasted more than 30 seconds: the vast majority of fireballs are only visible for few seconds.
  • Please, don't report recurring events: seeing a fireball is extremely rare and often a once in a lifetime event.
  • Please, don't report slow blinking objects or lights crossing the sky going by 2 or 3: a fireball looks like a big shooting star.
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  • $\begingroup$ Awwww so I indeed saw something really rare? thats so cool. :) So what I saw classifies as they would welcome me reporting it? $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Feb 6 at 7:24
  • $\begingroup$ Ok, from the video footage of the linked site, yeah thats pretty much what I saw. But it was in fact even larger and faster than any of the footage I jumped through so far on that site :) Could you maybe add some info to your answer what exactly an fireball is and what makes it different from a usual meteor entering the atmosphere event? $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Feb 6 at 7:44
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Someone near Heidelberg also observed a fireball at that time. AMS and IMO designate the event 635-2019, the 635th fireball reported in 2019. As there is only one other report so far and your description is fairly detailed, they would welcome your report too.

A fireball is a space rock whose orbit around the Sun happens to intersect with Earth's orbit at the right time - bigger than an everyday meteor, but smaller than the near-Earth objects (NEOs) which astronomers try to detect and track. For comparison, the February 1 meteorite in western Cuba was event 513-2019.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 For the description for what a fireball is. The other person having reported the event, tho.... Is probably me :P $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Feb 11 at 5:47

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