Fireball reported, ISON and Orionid updates

Widespread reports of a fireball, seen streaking through the sky last night around 830pm, continue to funnel in this afternoon. The American Meteor Society says they have recieved 71 official sighting reports of the meteor. Based on those details, they have concluded that the meteor entered the skies over New Jersey at 8:25pm, moving north-northwestward and eventually landing somewhere in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The data remains preliminary and the investigation into the event continues. The heat map, pictured below, shows the frequency of reported meteor sightings throughout the Northeast US.

Heat map of reported meteor sightings from October 14, 2013. Courtesy American Meteor Society.

Heat map of reported meteor sightings from October 14, 2013. Courtesy American Meteor Society.

Plenty of users have reported sightings on Twitter as well. One, for example, reported the meteor streaking through the sky around 8:30 in Springfield, NJ while driving on Route 22.

As we await more details and official confirmation on the meteor, we will continue to keep you updated on any new information.

ISON Brightening, Secular Light Curve Adjusted: A few weeks after one scientists report suggested that Comet ISON was near disintegration, the comet has brightened admirably over the last week or so. New research suggests that the comet is on a mono polar trajectory — meaning only one side of the comet is encountering solar winds.

If this is the case, ISON may have a few tricks up it’s sleeve yet. Once the comet reaches a certain distance from the sun, the icy side which is yet to be exposed will feel the heat and solar wind — and the ice, particles and minerals on it may put on quite a show.

All of that said, the comet is still running well behind initial magnitude forecasts on it’s secular curve. The forecasts for ISON to be a bright object of the 0 to -5 magnitude in the night sky appear to be off the table. Still, with a little luck the comet may be naked-eye visible either in late November, or after perihelion in December.

Orionids will battle bright moon: The annual Orionid meteor shower is upcoming this weekend, peaking on the morning of October 21st. This year, however, a bright moon may cut down on visibility.

Clear conditions are forecast this weekend behind a cold front, so most who attempt to view the meteor shower in the suburbs should still be able to see a moderately impressive show. But the usual hourly rates of the Orionids will certainly be cut down by the moons brightness.

Stay tuned later this week for an updated viewing forecast and viewing tips.