Rockingham, Western Australia
January 28th 2000
Yet Another Western Australian Fireball
On Friday 28-01-2000 at approximately 9.35pm a Rockingham WA resident (25km South of Fremantle and very near the RAN Garden Island Naval Base) saw yet another very large bright blue-white "fireball" coming in at a steep 45 degree angle from space which got larger and larger as it apparently aimed right at Rockingham. It descended over a some 30 second sighting from an initial orbital altitude running North to South well East of Rockingham. It then when slightly NorthEast of Rockingham swung round and down from high orbital ?altitude descending towards Rockingham from the East. It descended at some 45 degree angle to an arms length elevation angle of about 30 degrees altitude from the initial arms length elevation of some 80 degees. At this point it was huge and very bright and appeared to be some 2000 times as large as a big blue-white parachute flare. Everything around was briefly siluhetted by this blue-white light. It was definitely NOT a helicopter or aircraft landing light as there was no light beam visibly piercing the atmosphere. The observer had seen many previous examples of police helicopters and aircraft landing lights in his nightly search for satellites from his garden. The Fireball appeared to actually get quite close to the ground. It had no tail nor did it produce any noise. It then stopped dead in the sky and IMMEDIATELY went back up - following back along EXACTLY the same path as it had adopted whilst descending towards Rockingham. It accelerated up into space at very high increasing velocity such that it dwindled to a small dot and disappeared in about 2 seconds..................
Interestingly I personally saw a very similar thing two years ago one night in Toodjay (70km NE of Perth). A blue-white light came from the North at an apparently very high orbital altitude (say 80 degrees arm angle) looking like a bright slow satellite, then it descended rapidly towards the ground (flaring brightly as it did so) at a nearly vertical angle to our west (over Perth) then flew at lower level (say 30 degrees arm angle) parallel to the Earth, then rapidly flashed larger and more brilliantly, and ascended back up at 45degrees high speed to gain it's original high altitude orbit before slowing down to keep on going to the South in orbit.
The Rockingham observer claims to have seen a fireball climb up to space along almost exactly the same angular path to the East of Rockingham last year. His neighbours commonly see lights in the sky flying over Rockingham - and we commonly get many reports of fireballs flying over Rockingham or nearby out to sea.
Also preliminary eye-witness accounts now in for the recent 27-02-2000 Fireball Event (In over a point between Albany-Esperance thence via Kalgoorlie East to Kununura in the states NE). These speak of one leading very bright white light followed by 5 smaller bright white lights that changed position interleaving and overtaking one another and then finally peeling off together from the main light - as if in controlled flight before extinguishing and/or disappearing.
At Halls Creek (Kimberleys in NE WA)) 5 police saw the main fireball and were alarmed enough to think they were looking at an aircraft on fire.
I expect to get much more on this one !!!
As usual for WA and as noted for the recent Canadian Yukon fireball - the actual eye-witness accounts differ from immediate official astronomical observatory press releases.......................and as usual we are seeing some very odd flight characteristics .................
Report taken from the Skywatch International mailing list and used with permission