Last night (10/28/08) around 8:00PM, I was westbound on Hwy. 70 in Johnston County when I saw what appeared to be a meteorite cross overhead and in front of me. It appeared to be very close within miles and descended at a rapid rate to the ground off in the distance. Are these spotted by radar and were there any reports of this?

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julio fuentes

MIKE MOSS SAYS:       Julio,       I found a number of reports from North Carolina of a fireball (an especially bright meteor, additionally called a bolide if it flashes or explodes at some point along its path) sighting a little after 8 pm that night, which may have been the same meteor you witnessed. The color was described as white, and the brightness was variously described as between that of the planet Venus and of the full moon. You can check for recent sightings at the address below, part of the American Meteor Society web site.

As for your second question, meteors are not generally detected by weather radar, but there are special radars that can be tuned and operated in such as way as to detect meteors and especially the plasma trails they leave behind at high altitudes. These have been used since the 1950s to study meteors, upper atmospheric physics and high altitude weather.



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