January 28th 2000
Another Western Australian Fireball
Media Reports last night and press reports today in the West Australian newspaper provide preliminary data on yet another West Australian Fireball event.
About 11.00pm a very bright white "basket ball sized" fireball with a fluorescent green train crossed the Southern WA coast between Albany and Esperance heading North-East at an estimated altitude of 100km. It reportedly split into 3-4 pieces at an estimated altitude of 80km by the time it reached Kalgoorlie in the Eastern Goldfields. It was observed from as far west as Shark Bay (NW WA Indian Ocean coast). Three pieces exploded east of Kalgoorlie, whilst the forth travelled some 2000km further to Wyndham in the states North-East where it disintegrated into many smaller pieces at an altitude estimated to be 20km.
This fireball was observed during a continental transit over Western Australia of some 2500km.
This initial press report is based upon info supplied by Perth Astronomical Observatory. They received several hundred phone calls on the event. I have previously found their reports to always bias towards astronomical meteor viewpoint with gross overestimates of altitudes, object type, and event form etc. They have often released generalised info with major discrepencies when compared to individual eye-witness reports that we usually collect directly from observers over the following days.
In this case the Perth Observatory believe the fireball probably represented the re-entry of the Russian satellite Molniya - originally launched in 1986.
I shall issue further reports as we obtain relevant independent observer info.
Report taken from the Skywatch International mailing list and used with permission