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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2003 > Dec > Dec 16

Fireballs In The Sky

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren@pacbell.net>
Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 06:46:08 -0800
Fwd Date: Tue, 16 Dec 2003 13:36:46 -0500
Subject: Fireballs In The Sky

Source: The San Jose Mercury News California


Mon, Dec. 15, 2003

Fireballs in the sky
Meteors prompt calls to Coast Guard
By Chuck Carroll
Mercury News

Concerned residents from Bodega Bay to San Francisco Bay called
the U.S. Coast Guard Sunday night, wondering what the bright
lights in the sky might have been.

"They were very determined that it was flares, and so we treated
it like it was," said Joe Ford, civilian search and rescue
coordinator for the Coast Guard station in San Francisco.

Ford dispatched units to investigate after the calls came in a
bunch at about 9:45 p.m.

As it turned out, however, no ships at sea were in trouble. The
streaks were nothing more than meteors burning up as they
entered the earth's atmosphere from the area of the sky where
the constellation Gemini appears.

"It's making its annual pass through the earth's path," Ford
said of the shower, known as the Geminids.

Typically, the Geminids provide for a pretty spectacular show,
with a good number of relatively large, medium-speed meteors
streaking across the sky in a graceful, descending arc.

"If you have not seen a mighty Geminid fireball arcing
gracefully across an expanse of sky, then you have not seen a
meteor," meteor experts David Levy and Stephen Edberg have

Some astronomers believe the Geminids to have been spawned not
by a comet, as many are, but by an asteroid that crosses the
orbit of Earth, according to Space.com. The Geminids typically
peak on Dec. 13 and Dec. 14.

But others believe the shooting stars may be comet debris after
all because the asteroid, known as 3200 Phaeton, might be the
dead nucleus of a burned-out comet that somehow got trapped into
an unusually tight orbit, Space.com reported.

While the peak has passed, sky-watchers say it pays off to keep
looking for the next week or so, as some of the brightest
fireballs of Geminids tend to be stragglers.