By Miriam Raftery
May 1, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – At 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, April 29, East Count y Magazine columnist Dennis Richardson of Lakeside reports spotting a large, white object “burning across the skies” from south to north in the western sky. “It started falling apart towards the end of my field of vision,” he said, adding that smaller pieces “flew away in a cone-shaped tail as they burned up more quickly and disappeared.”
A larger piece traveled on and disappeared behind clouds, said Richardson, who believed the object could be space debris, a meteorite, or shooting star.
ECM asked astronomy writer Dennis Mammana (www.dennismamammana.com; www.facebook.com/DennisMammana), author of the syndicated “Stargazer” column, if he was aware of any meteor showers or other celestial phenomenon that evening.
“This sounds like a meteor, albeit a very bright one,” he replied. “It might have been a piece of natural material or a piece of manmade space debris. From the description of its long tail and the early hour, it sounds like an “earthgrazer” which falls tangentially through the Earth’s atmosphere and burns for a long time.”
Such occurrences happen more frequently than most people are aware,” Mammana added.
Coincidentally, the Space Station passed over our region and was reportedly visible here one night later.
If you spotted either of these unusual occurrences in the night skies over East County, please post your comments below.