Tucson Fireball of November 16th, 2019

My allsky camera picked up a massive bolide over Tucson moving across the sky rather slowly for a meteor on the morning of Nov 16th, 2019 at 4:13:30 local time lasting about 15 seconds.

This was a pretty awesome event, so I thought I'd do a blog post about it.

Stack of 4 images showing the entire event:

The fireball was spotted by other observers, and an American Meteor Society event ID was assigned. You can find that here:


After some discussion and consultation with experts, it is likely this was a metalic meteor that gave the upper atmosphere a buzz. It possibly landed in NM, or it may have also continued back out into space.

Bill Gray was unable to identify any known space junk that could have been responsible for this fireball. A rough estimation of sky motion is around 12 degrees / second. Given the altitude the rocks enter the atmosphere at, and how far this rock traveled, a good speed estimate is about 20km/s. This is much too fast to be an artificial satellite and it approached from the direction of Canis Major so it was not a Leonid.

Looking at the lifespan image below you can see this object stayed lit up and bright across the entire field of view of the all-sky camera even after passing behind thick clouds. It is burning a color that indicates there was a high level of nickel/iron, and it didn't break up like space junk typically does.

It approaches at a shallow angle from the SW and leaves towards New Mexico to the NE. This indicates it was probably a Near Earth Asteroid that approached us from behind, passing us in the high atmosphere as it gave a nice close skim to earth. It was probably a few feet in diameter.

Another observer in Tucson was also able to capture a small video clip of this object with a security camera pointed out a window that was facing SW.
In the video, the bolide emerges from behind clouds and quickly passes behind a tree. Amazing capture!
I've shared the images here with permission from the owner Kelly Michals:

It appears that the allsky camera on Kitt Peak also picked up this event, capturing the entry point to my SW
Thanks to Mike Read for providing these.

Interactive Space Watch View (Click and drag)

Thanks to Mike Read from Space Watch for also digging up images from the NASA All Sky Fireball Network. Images provided by William Cooke from the NASA Meteoroid Environments Office.
Kitt Peak Capture

Mount Lemmon Capture

There is also a very good probability that this object was picked up by the NWS radar station KIWA based in Phoenix.
This is a high elevation scan about the right time for the fireball. The streak shown is at the right location, at the right time, and at the right position angle, to be the fireball.
The product visible here is called the correlation coefficient. It is a product used for determining if an object on the radar is not weather related. In this case, it indicates this is not a weather related phenomenon.
All in all an awesome event.