FROM THE INTERNET, Wednesday, December 28, 1994

"Fireball in Mojave Desert, Possible Impact"

A COMPILATION of email messages - by Dave Bell

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Date: Wed, 28 Dec 94 17:59:42 PST

From: dbell at (Dave Bell)
To: baalke at (Ron Baalke)

Subject: Re: Fireball in Mojave Desert, Possible Impact


 Here are some postings I found. (The first is my own...)


Saw a very bright fireball (apparently) eastbound from the
South San Francisco Bay Area, at about 2016. I first spotted
it through high overcast at about 45 deg elevation to the East,
and it sputtered out somewhat below 30 deg elevation. Went
through several changes of color and brightness over about
2 to 3 seconds. Spectacular!!

Dave  dbell at


The fireball was spectacular as seen from Los Angeles, according to early
news report (I didn't see it personally).

(from   jmosley at )


Location:  Big Pine California, in the Owens Valley

What we saw:  While watching television a very bright flash lit up
   the entire Eastern Sierra mountain range brighter than the full moon.
   I saw the flash from inside a brightly lit house, looking out toward
   the west.  The source of the flash must have been generally from
   the east, since the all the snowfields of the eastern sierra lit up
   without shadowing.  I did not see the bolide directly.  We searched
   the dark night sky here for any residual clouds and found none.

What we heard:  About 90 sec after the flash, we heard a sharp double sonic
   sonic boom.  It was followed by a low rumbling that slowing died away.
   I have attended many space shuttle landings, and this double-boom
   was very similar to the sonic booms made by the space shuttle (and
   nearly as loud).  The time interval between the two booms seemed shorter
   than the shuttle, indicating that an object smaller than the length
   of the shuttle orbiter was producing the sound.

Reasoned speculation:  A meteorite about 50 feet across would be consistent
   with the time interval between the sonic booms.  From the time delay
   between the flash and the booms, the bolide probably struck within 30
   miles of my location, somewhere generally to the east.

Karl Stapelfeldt and Don Padgett
at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory

(  dlp at )


On Dec. 26th at 8:15PM PST while driving north on La Cienega Blvd. in Los
Angeles, I saw a large white hot flaming object with a white/green
comet-trail.  The object was streaking down towrd Earth with astonishing
speed.  I have never seen anything moving that fast!  It looked as if it
was going to land in the valley just over the hills, and I even
considered chasing up over the ridge to see where it landed.

The sight of this thing was terrifying and really exciting, and made me
go tingly all over...  Wow!  Things falling from the sky!

The local news said that sightings of the same object at the same time
were reported from as far away as Nevada.

Can anyone tell me what I saw?  A meteor?  How big was it?  Where did it
land?  Was it predicted/expected?  Was it tracked on radar somewhere?  

Do these things happen often?

I mean this was really something!

K. Morrisey
( headless at )


Well, I suppose I was one of many people who saw the fireball on the
night of Dec 26, around 8:15 Pacific time...

We saw it from a car travelling east in Santa Cruz.  What i saw was
a yellowish fireball from about 30 degrees above the eastern horizon
which brightened to about mag -7.  It had a red glow about it as it
faded behind the Santa Cruz Mountains.  My friend who was with me
swears she saw colors of green in it, though i couldn't confirm that.

It was quite spectacular!

( jmcd at  )


Compiled by:

A REPLY to Ron Baalke's email messages - by Steve Edberg

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From:   SMTP%"sedberg at gllsvc.DNET.NASA.GOV"  3-JAN-1995 23:23:48.61

Subj:   RE: FW: Fireball Over Mojave Desert, Possible Impact

Date: Tue, 3 Jan 95 18:19:16 -0500

Subject: RE: FW: Fireball Over Mojave Desert, Possible Impact

There would be no question about where an impact that generated a flash
had occurred:  the flash would imply an explosion crater that would have
been seen, heard, and recorded seismographically.  This was probably a
flare, perhaps the terminal flare of the inbound meteorite, which may
or may not have survived its fall.  Collecting observations to triangulate
the possible impact zone is a good idea, and requires many observations
to narrow the area down.  I wish I had seen it and could help that way.
Please keep us informed of progress.

Steve Edberg

A FORWARD from Ron Baalke of a John Mosely email messages:

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Sent: Friday, December 30, 1994 5:20 PM


Subject: Fireball report from Griffith Observatory

Fireball over California, December 26, 1994

preliminary report from Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles
213-664-1181  phone
213-663-8171  fax

A spectacular meteor (fireball) was seen over California and Nevada from the Los Angeles area to Reno, and as far west as 
Redding and San Francisco, at about 8:15 p.m. PST on December 26. People reported seeing sparks, smoke and the colors 
blue, white, green and yellow. Many callers reported (and some insisted) that it landed very close to them.

It was first seen while east of the Palm Springs/Riverside area, traveling north. It was last seen from Mammoth. It seems 
to have traveled over the California desert east of Barstow north-westward over Death Valley.

The Reno airport control tower reports that it was observed by pilots near the town of Beatty, Nevada who were approaching 
Reno and who saw it travel up along the California-Nevada border; one pilot saw it extinguish at an estimated height of 
31,000 feet. 
An observer in the San Francisco area also saw it sputter out. 
A report from Big Pine, 15 miles south of Bishop, places the fireball to the east (the person saw a brilliant flash that 
lit up the mountains and heard sonic booms reminiscent of a Space Shuttle landing). 

We conclude it ended its flight roughly 30-40 miles east of Bishop, California near the California-Nevada border.

The object was apparently traveling nearly parallel to the ground. It is unknown if any solid objects survived the long 
passage through the atmosphere (at least 250 miles).

Apparently a second fainter fireball was seen an hour later moving eastward over southern California.

The Observatory solicits reports from people who saw this meteor near its ending point.

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