(meteorobs) Why do some meteors appear to zig-zag?

Marco Langbroek marco.langbroek at wanadoo.nl
Wed Jul 7 17:05:03 EDT 2004

I do not believe in zig-zagging meteors at all. I do not know of ANY fireball photographed by the professional meteor surveys, that zig-zags on the image.

By contrast, persistent trains and dusttrails in the wake of a bolide start to show zig-zag or corkscrew patterns sometimes within seconds of trail formation. This is due to high altitude winds. I think that many reports on 'zig-zag' meteos are influenced by (inexperienced) observers noting the corkscrew persistent train/dust trail, and then thinking the meteor itself must have zig-zagged to form the trail.

The often quoted evidence of of the Pasamonte fireball is inconsequential, as many feel this photograph is:
1) motion blurred (it was taken out of the hand with a long exposure, not from a tripod)
2) shows the persistent train, not the fireball as often claimed.
I recently summed it up for A/CC ( http://www.hohmanntransfer.com/mn/0405/27.htm#snmet)

- Marco

Dr Marco Langbroek
Dutch Meteor Society (DMS)
Leiden, the Netherlands
52.15896 N, 4.48884 E (WGS 84)

e-mail: meteorites at dmsweb.org
DMS website: http://www.dmsweb.org
priv. website: http://home.wanadoo.nl/marco.langbroek
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