Skip to: Content
Skip to: Site Navigation
Skip to: Search

Fireballs! 'Tis the season for massive meteors.

Tonight (April 23) through Friday at dawn may be your best chance of the year to spot a fireball, a meteor that shines brighter than Venus, the brightest planet in the sky.

(Page 2 of 3)

After enough ground observations were gathered, orbits for both objects were computed. Remarkably, the two turned out to be very similar. 

Skip to next paragraph

Something to “Crow” about

Both the New Jersey and United Kingdom meteors seemed to emanate from a spot in the sky near the constellation of Corvus (the Crow). 

Corvus is a rather striking star pattern situated low in the southeast sky around 9 p.m. local daylight time — a little four-sided figure of fairly bright stars, like a triangle whose top has been removed by a slanting cut.

By around midnight it appears almost due south, and by the first light of dawn it’s disappearing beyond the southwest horizon. So any brilliant fireballs traveling on a general south-to-north trajectory might be related to this supposed fireball stream, especially if they seem to come from the direction of Corvus.

Here are three other possible candidate "Crow" meteors, all of which blazed up on the calendar date of April 25:

April 25, 1966: This brilliant exploding meteor passed northward over New Jersey and eastern New York into Canada along a flat trajectory. Observations were analyzed by both U.S. and Canadian experts, who determined that the end point of the meteor's visible path was at an altitude of around 9 miles (15 kilometers) near Huntingdon, Quebec. Canadian astronomers B.A. McIntosh and J.A.V. Douglas noted, "The anticlimax of so spectacular an event is surely the failure to recover meteorites ... Much of the possible fall area is either sparsely populated or unfavorable terrain for recovery." They suggest that part of the meteoritic mass may have come down in the rugged Adirondack Mountains, along the trajectory but before the end point.   

April 25, 1971: A man named James A. Lewis reported that he and his wife heard a "thunder-like" sound in north-Central Wisconsin. "I thought it was lightning," Lewis wrote, "until I looked up and saw the fireball-like object hurtling northerly through the clouds. It seemed to break up about 30 degrees above the northern horizon." (As reported in Natural History Magazine, Vol. LXXX, No. 7, August-September 1971).

April 25, 2005: A fireball was seen as far north as Portland, Maine and as far south as Long Island. A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said that a number of witnesses thought the meteor was a plane crashing in Connecticut, the Associated Press reported at the time.

  • Weekly review of global news and ideas
  • Balanced, insightful and trustworthy
  • Subscribe in print or digital

Special Offer


Doing Good


What happens when ordinary people decide to pay it forward? Extraordinary change...

Danny Bent poses at the starting line of the Boston Marathon in Hopkinton, Mass.

After the Boston Marathon bombings, Danny Bent took on a cross-country challenge

The athlete-adventurer co-founded a relay run called One Run for Boston that started in Los Angeles and ended at the marathon finish line to raise funds for victims.

Become a fan! Follow us! Google+ YouTube See our feeds!