Fireball photobombs SpaceX launch Wednesday night

Astrophotographer Jason Rinehart captured not only the Falcon 9 rocket launch but at the same...
Astrophotographer Jason Rinehart captured not only the Falcon 9 rocket launch but at the same time, a bright fireball shooting across the night sky. He was positioned along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.(Jason Rinehart)
Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 10:45 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 11, 2021 at 10:49 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Astrophotographers had their cameras pointed to the horizon. Skies were clear, wind was light. It was the perfect weather to hopefully catch a glimpse of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Florida Wednesday evening. The launch was sending four astronauts to the International Space Station.

Jason Rinehart was positioned at the Pine Tree Overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Botetourt County. He had the perfect vantage point to see the launch.

His 1 minute long exposure captured the trail of the rocket, the fainter red line going horizontally across the image below. But what took center stage was the bright green fireball that photobombed the whole image.

So I set out tonight to capture the Space X, Falcon 9 rocket, carrying four new crew members to The International...

Posted by Jason Rinehart on Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Peter Forister was also watching the launch from Gordonsville, Virginia and captured the massive fireball appearing under the SpaceX Crew 3 launch.

NASA looked into the specifics. While fireballs are nothing new, this one seemed to have perfect timing for astrophotographers to capture on camera.

  • Moving northwest at 33,000 miles per hour
  • It survived only 3.5 seconds before disintegrating 28 miles above Macclesfield, North Carolina
  • At its brightest, the fireball rivaled the Full Moon
  • Likely caused by an object roughly 45 pounds in weight and 10 inches in diameter.
  • The low speed implies an asteroidal origin.

Bright fireball seen over North Carolina Wednesday night (November 10) at just past 9 PM Eastern. OK, now that I have...

Posted by NASA Meteor Watch on Wednesday, November 10, 2021

The fireball was also captured on car dash-cams and doorbell cameras throughout the east coast as it was burning up.

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