Monday, April 17, 2017

This happened to me

There's an article here (link below) that purports to explain how people can see a large/bright meteor and hear its passage at virtually the same time. And that should be impossible, because the meteor is a few miles up in the atmosphere, and as we all know, light travels faster than sound.

If you haven't had this happen to you, you might say, "Pish-tosh, that can't happen. Simple physics. Laws of nature and all that."

Well, I have to give credit to the article, because it happened to me. And though I never thought at the time about how what I saw and heard should have been simple-physically impossible, I realized when reading the article that of course, it really should have been impossible.

What happened was, there were reports a few years ago that the August Perseid shower, always a reliable performer, might spawn a meteor storm. This is something that I've never seen, but in fact, I did see the tail-end (Year 3) of the heightened Leonids. Not quite a true storm, though. So I went out to watch the Perseids, and there was no storm. There were, however, Perseids, and one of them was actually large enough that it had both a visible trail of ionized gas, and as it destroyed itself in atmospheric immolation, it exploded. Now, a sand grain exploding isn't a really big explosion, but it did crackle and pop and send off a few glowing fragments at its fiery demise.

And I heard the pop the same time I saw the little explosion.

So yes, it happens. I can vouch for it. And now maybe, I know how.

Article:  Why can we see and hear meteors at the same time?

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