Geoff Chester (NASEP007@sivm.si.edu)
Fri, 18 Oct 96 09:23:12 EDT

In response to a query by Jim Byrd:

I am convinced that what your friend and his brother saw was a "bolide",
a very bright meteor.  These things occur fairly often (several times
a year over the US) and can be very spectacular.  Depending on the entry
angle, if it happens to be heading more or less for you it would appear as
a bright ball of light that wouldn't move much accross the sky.  We had one
down here in Virginia a couple of years ago.  My wife noticed it when the
front yard was lit up as if by a powerfull floodlight (this was around
10 PM) and she turned around to see a very bright object almost hanging
in the sky for several seconds.  It then faded from view.  I, of course,
was at Blockbuster returning some video tapes, but when I got home the
phone was ringing off the hook from neighbors and media wanting to know
whattinthehell it was.  It was a rock about the size of a basketball
hitting the upper atmosphere at 40-50 kilometers/sec. And I missed it!
But then, "When my ship finally comes in I'll probably be at the


 Geoff Chester    Albert Einstein Planetarium   nasep007@sivm.si.edu 
  "Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand   
      miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules--and still    
       there are some misfits who insist that there is no such       
                            thing as progress"                       
                                               --Ransom K. Fern