Bolide over South Bay

by Kevin McLoughlin
Ronald Gross
John R Pierce
Jane Houston Jones
Jeffrey Crilly
Casey Fukuda
James Turley
Phil Chambers
Ketan Deshpande
Peter McKone
Noel Verbiest

Wed, 09 Jul 2003 22:37:02 -0700 (PDT) Kevin McLoughlin
Did anyone else see a *very* bright meteor falling a ways to the south of Oakland, around 10 this evening? Either that, or the brightest wayward Roman candle of my life. From my viewpoint driving down Highway 13 near Piedmont, it looked like it was falling somewhere in the general direction of Mt. Hamilton. Started as a slowly falling Venus-like star about 60 degrees above due south, flared extremely bright a few degrees above the horizon, and then sputtered into many short trails before disappearing.

If any of you were in a position to triangulate, maybe we can go meteorite hunting ;-).

Wed, 9 Jul 2003 23:34:44 -0700 Ronald Gross
I saw this as well. Like you stated it was very bright and from my angle I thought it was going to hit ground (it only died out around 5 degrees above the hill in front of me). I was driving south on Highway 280 at around the Page Mill Rd. exit. From where I was it seemed to be headed for the Los Altos Hills area west of Foothill College, but there was a hill in front of me so I could not tell how far south it really was. Pretty amazing sight.

Don't want to alarm anyone, but Mars IS getting pretty close. Could be some sort of vanguard or something. (we have been sending a lot of stuff THEIR way recently) ;-)

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 00:04:07 -0700 John R Pierce
I was at the Skyview Drivein* in Santa Cruz, and I saw something flash in the sky, it almost looked like lightning. It was behind me and to my left as I faced screen 1 from a bit too far on the right, I mostly only saw the reflected light. The moon was at about 10 oclock relative to us, and I'd guess the flash came from around 7 oclock.

we saw Pirates of the Caribbean. cool movie, but skip the drivein, its very dark and was hard to see against the lowered contrast afforded by the 3/4 moon.

my observations put it somewhere on a vector from Soquel towards Morgan Hill and Modesto, this goes quite a bit north of Hollister. Maybe south of Mt Hamilton and north of Pacheco Pass somewhere.

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 01:07:14 -0700 Jane Houston Jones
I was driving home from the Sonoma County Astronomical Society club meeting at 10:00 p.m. Wednesday night. South 101 from Santa Rosa to San Rafael. I first saw a true roman candle - a real wimp of a firework a few moments before this. Then an amazingly bright one at 10:00 p.m. It was definately not a firework, as it was falling down not shooting up. I was traveling south as I said, and it was visible to my south east - in front and to the left of me. I would have been near Santa Rosa at 10:00 p.m. I lost sight of it but it was still bright and firey as it disappeared from view obscured by trees and low buildings to the left of me across the freeway. I don't know if I saw the same thing, but it was at the same time.

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 01:45:01 -0700 (PDT) Jeffrey Crilly
ok.. we thought maybe it was late fireworks.

Up at montebello tonight (last night?) I was standing with my back to the south-south-east, and suddenly it got very bright - as if someone took a flash picture - I could see shadows in front of me. I turned around and saw flaming stuff falling downward.

Others saw it, and assumed it was fireworks. But with these widespread reports it sounds more like a bolide.

This thing was bright... it cast more light than the near-full moon!

As for location... my guess is that it was pretty far south-south-east. Maybe even over the ocean.

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 02:39:10 -0700 Casey Fukuda
I was up at Monte Bello tonight facing south, south east just as the Bolide lit up the sky. Jeff C or Marek C partially blocked my view of the object, but I remember seeing their sillhouette just before it emerged from behind them. I thought it was a flash from a camera at first, then from my view, it appeared to break up into at least two separate pieces as it headed toward the ground. The light streak seemed to extinguish prior to hitting the earth. Very bright, yellow with a hint of orange.

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 08:18:01 -0700 James Turley
About 10 last night, I was sitting in my hot tub with my kid thinking about the gang at MB and ... FLASH to the north. My kid thought it was some kind of firework. No streamer, but sure was bright.

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 08:59:06 -0700 (PDT) Phil Chambers
At Montebello last night I saw it and yelled and several folks turned in time to see parts of it. It was almost due east from Montebello.

We wrote it off as someone playing with leftover fireworks.

Maybe not... hmmmmm

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 09:19:54 -0700 Peter McKone
I saw it from Montebello. Southeast or SSE seems right. I thought someone from East San Jose had shot up some defective fireworks. The proximity to July 4 seems like a clue.

By the way, the moon was very bright. Even major constellations were hard to pick out. If you stayed home, you didn't miss too much.

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 11:20:00 -0700 Ketan Deshpande
I usually lurk here, but ... I saw this flash too - I was driving down 101South between the 280/680 intersection and Tully, and saw it come down just to the left of the freeway, looked like it was north of the Yerba Buena/Capitol exit. It looked VERY VERY VERY close. I too thought it was a firework coming down. Didn't see anything on the news, so I didn't think much about it.

Makes that long day at work almost worth it.. ;-)

Thu, 10 Jul 2003 18:55:14 -0700 Noel Verbiest
My wife and I were hiking in the vicinity of Montgomery Park in East San Jose (approx. half a mile away from the Evergreen Valley College's new observatory.)

We happened to be looking at this fireball almost dead on. It came down at perhaps a 5 to 10 degree angle from the vertical. No sound.

It was due south of us, very intense, and the color changed from vivid green (the upper 80% of the trace) to vivid yellow (the lower 20%). The shape of the object was not a smooth disintegrating ball, it rather looked a tortured object that burned unevenly, with certain parts of it burning more intense then others. This was very visible during the "yellow" phase.

It did not disintegrate while it burned, but it was probably close to it.

It may have come apart after it extinguished.

It extinguished before it hit the ground.

From where we were, it looked like possible remnants could have landed in the Villages.

At first we thought it were fireworks, but the trajectory and the lack of sound were so un-firework-like that it must have been something else. The speed of descent was not as high as what one usually sees from a meteor, it was perhaps half that, but it was much faster then what one would expect from fireworks. The whole event took between 1 and 2 seconds.