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From: Greg Crinklaw
Date: Sun, 03 Dec 2006 18:50:20 -0700
Newsgroups: sci.astro.amateur
Chris L Peterson wrote:
On Sun, 03 Dec 2006 10:45:55 -0700, Greg Crinklaw
<theskyhoundyoureye@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

On average maybe, but I'd be willing to bet that of the brightest fireballs, a much larger fraction are space junk.

I don't think so. Decaying space junk doesn't usually produce
extraordinarily bright meteors. It can produce fairly spectacular events
because it is traveling slowly, and is often seen shedding incandescent
debris. But the really bright fireballs (brighter than the Moon) all
seem to be natural.

Of the several dozen extremely bright fireballs I've tracked in the last
five years, none has been the product of space junk.

Alright, then replace "brightest" with "most spectacular" or "eye catching" or whatever. I'm not arguing that most fireballs aren't natural--it's your 1% figure that seems rather unrealistic to me. As I said, maybe 1% of the total, but I don't think that's equivalent to 1% of the ones observed. Space junk is slower and often more spectacular, which makes it more noticeable. Of the spectacular fireballs I've seen a significantly higher percentage than 1% could be traced to space junk. I mean, I've seen 2 or 3 reentries, but I can't say I've seen 200-300 fireballs...

Greg Crinklaw
Astronomical Software Developer
Cloudcroft, New Mexico, USA (33N, 106W, 2700m)


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