16.06.2018 – Fireball / Bolide lighten up the sky

In the late evening of the 16th June 2018 at exactly 11.11 pm a bolide / fireball lightened up the sky above Bergheim. Bolides / Fireballs are very bright meteors (falling stars) which should be at least more bright than the brightest planet (Venus, -4 magnitudes). I guess some more people saw it because at that time there was a music festival at Bergheim in the city center.


The observation of the fireball or bolide happend of course as always randomly. I was already since 11 pm at the edge of the fieldand I was searching for noctulicent clouds in western and northeastern direction because during the daytime the OSWIN-Radar was able to record two stronger signals. While I was waiting for the clouds to appear I also used the waiting time to have a look at the nice encounter of the crescent moon (13%) and the planet Venus. Suddenly at 11.11 pm behind me over my left shoulder I was able to see a brightening. As I turned my head to the left side reflexively to see what is going on there I was able to see the bolide / fireball. The sky distinctly lightened up in its area and I think I maybe even was abvle to see som shadows of some trees on the ground while it was moving (but I am not totally sure about that). It was visible in south –> southwest direction (azimuth about 196°) between Jupiter and the star Spica (Alpha Vir).




Visually it was very impressive: When I turned my head to the left after I noticed the brightening I first of all just saw kind of a bright line but luckily I still looked fast enough there to see more details then. At the beginning of my observation it was mostly kind of yellow colour which changed distinctly then fast into greenish colour. The bolide splitted then in about 3-4 parts and what me really fascinated was, that I was able to see kind of sparks when it brokes apart. This kind of details I observed the first time in my life. I have already seen some bolides during my last 15 years of astronomy but I was never able to observe the fragmentaion visually with such impressive details. Awesome! WHile his fragmentation the colours changed from yellow to greenish the bolide started to burn out fast. It remanded a very good visible smoking trail which disappeared after about 2 seconds. 

The estimation of the brightness was of course often not that easy, so also in that case. If the objects are not that bright there are often reference objects in the sky to compare the brightness. For such bright objects there were in that case just Jupiter (-2.4 mag), Venus (-4.0 mag) and also lucky me the moon with a lunar phase of 13 % which made about -7.8 mag. THe moon at the end was the absolutely best reference object to estimate the brightness of the bolide. The bolide reached its maximum brightness while the fragmentation started because here the forces of its entrance into earth’s atmosphere got too powerful. The two mentioned planet had absolutely no chance with their brightness and the bolide was much brighter. But compared to the crescent moon, yes that was comparable. My impression was that the bolide was even a little bit brighter so that I decided at the end to name the brightness with about -7 to -10 magnitude. I guess that covered well the real brightness of the bolide. 


Summary of my observation:

  • Date / Time:   16th June 2018 ; 11.11 pm
  • Duration of the observation:   ~ 3 seconds
  • Maximum brightness:   ~ 7-10 magnitude
  • Appeared:   Azimuth ~ 196°, height ~ 30-40°
  • Disappeared:   Azimuth ~ 206°, height ~ 12-14°
  • Fragmentation:   broke apart into 3-4 fragments, short time some sparks were visible
  • Colours:   First of all more kind of yellow, with the fragmentation changing into greenish colour
  • Smoking trail:   After the burn out about 2 seconds visible, no additional brightening
  • Sounds:   While the observation and afterwards no sounds was audible


More observations of the bolide / fireball (source: akm.imo.net):

  • Latest there are already 214 reports of the bolide
  • Northernmost observation:   Zuidhorn, Groningen (NL)
  • Easternmost observation:   M?šice, St?edo?eský kraj (CZ)
  • Southernmost observation:  Feyzin, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (FR)
  • Westernmost observation:   Saint-Martin-du-Fouilloux, Pays de la Loire (FR)
  • Estimated trajectory:   eastern Belgium, maybe between St.Vith –> Liege
  • Link to the report on METEOROS –> 2065-2018




Hermann Koberger from Upper Austria kindly allowed me to show his photos here. If you are interested in many more beautiful pictures please visit his Homepage.



Uwe Reichert from Baden-Wuerttemberg at Germany kindly allowed me to show his photo here. Sometimes you need really a lot of luck – as seen here while he obsvered the moon and Venus.




Last update of the data:   15th August 2018, 10.33 pm

Author:   Frank Rinas