Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Bizarre shower of fireballs remains a mystery to astronomers

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
February 25th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

A remarkable meteor shower that took place a hundred years ago is closer to being explained. The Great Meteor Procession of 1913 is a long-standing mystery of science. Just what caused the slow procession of fireballs across the night sky on Feb. 9, 1913?

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As reported in Space.com, researchers remain mystified by the cause of the event, but they have more clues to work with. Following a call in the journal Nature, researchers found even more reports from observers.

Among those reports were ship's logs, which recorded the event as it occurred over the Atlantic ocean.

On the night of February 9, 1913, sky watchers observed a slow procession of fireballs which moved slowly across the sky. One after another, often flying in formation, fireballs grazed the upper atmosphere, burning slow and bright.

The spectacular procession was observed from western Canada all the way south to points off the coast of Brazil. It was heavily observed around the Great Lakes region, particularly over Toronto, Pennsylvania, and New York.

Observers on the ground reported hearing sound like thunder, likely the sonic booms of the meteors.

The slow, almost stately procession of the fireballs is consistent with material that is slowly entering the Earth's atmosphere. Typically, similar fireballs are produced by satellites which are reentering the Earth's atmosphere at the end of their operational lives.

It has been suggested that the Great Meteor Procession of 1913 was caused by an asteroid which fell into orbit around the Earth and broke up before entering the atmosphere at a very shallow angle.

There is no conclusion among astronomers that this is what happened, although it appears to be the leading hypothesis.

A similar event has never been observed either before or since, which makes the event even more difficult to understand. However, the wide observations confirm that on the night of Feb. 9, 1913, something breathtaking and extraordinary did happen and it was seen over thousands of miles.

For now, researchers continue to study the perplexing event in an effort to learn how it occurred.

The procession and its origin, remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of astronomy.

Article brought to you by: Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)