The Slowest Meteor Ever? Nope! Satellite!

A bright fireball appeared in the sky over Hawaii a couple of days ago.  It appeared to break into several pieces and burn up in the atmosphere.  Naturally one would expect it to be a meteor, but if you take a look at the video below, it sticks around a little bit too long for that.

Aside from the over-the-top reaction of those watching, it’s not as exciting and quick as a meteor.  In fact, most meteors can move through the sky at up to 70 km/s, enough to burn up quickly and leave a bright flash in their wake.

This fireball was the slower burn up of a Russian satellite moving around 5-8 km/s across the sky.  Kosmos 1315 is a satellite left over from the Soviet cold war era…well… not anymore I suppose.

Satellites in orbit slowly lose momentum.  This is because the satellites are orbiting in an imperfect vacuum.  Even though they are in space where the air is too thin to breathe, the little air that is present is enough to gradually fight against the forward momentum of the craft.  Year to year, this isn’t a huge deal, especially for any craft that has a booster rocket to maintain its orbit.  But for ancient satellites without this technology, having been in space for 50 years, the orbit has degraded enough to bring it back to Earth in the form of a fireball.

Would have been a nice sight to see while drinking and swimming…., Cosmos, 1315, Kosmos 1315, Cosmos 1315, Satellite,

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