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FIREBALL PARALLAX: Strange but true: The three fireballs in the image below are all the same meteor. During last month's Lyrid meteor shower, an unusually big piece of Comet Thatcher disintegrated in Earth's atmosphere over Slovakia. Three photographers located in three different towns photographed the fireball, and one of them, Tomas Slovinsky, combined the three photos into a single image:
"This composite image beautifully illustrates the effect of parallax on the apparent position of the meteor," says Slovinsky. "The three fireballs were photographed from Zilina (shortest one), Zbojska, and Kosice (longer one) - all with different paths and lengths on the sky."
Using the three images, the team of photographers was able to reconstruct the physical path of the meteor through the atmosphere, and they found a surprise. "While ordinary meteors disintegrate 60-90km above the ground, this one started to burn much higher: 121km above the ground," says Slovinsky. "We believe this is due to the meteor's high speed, which we measured to be 27km/s (60,000 mph)."
Thanks to Tomas Slovinsky, Robert Barsa, and Pavol