Mysterious object in Mono County sky may be meteor
October 2, 2013
A mysterious object spotted in the sky near Matterhorn Peak above Twin Lakes Mono Village on Monday resulted in a search for a downed aircraft.
Campers in the area reported seeing the object trailing three plumes of smoke, flying overhead at a high rate of speed, and then fall quickly.
According to the Mono County Sheriff’s Office, the witnesses said they did not hear any engine noise, but reported hearing a boom, which they at first thought was a car door slamming.
The witnesses said they saw intermittent plumes of white smoke that appeared to be rising from Matterhorn Peak, which they reported to the staff of Mono Village.
The staff called the sheriff’s office, spokeswoman Jennifer Hansen said.
A member of the sheriff’s search & rescue was dispatched to the scene with an emergency locator transmitter receiver, to find out if there was an emergency beacon, but no signal was detected, Hansen said.
A deputy was dispatched with an infra-red heat detecting device but the results were inconclusive.
On Tuesday, three search & rescue teams were sent into the field with ELT receivers to look for signals from various locations, including Tuolumne Meadows.
California Highway Patrol helicopter H20 did an extensive air search of the area with no findings.
Since no aircraft have been reported missing, or overdue, the search has been suspended.
It is speculated that the objects seen may have been meteor fragments or space debris, and the plumes of smoke could have been steam generated from these objects hitting the glaciers or snowfields in the area.
There was no report of a major meteor or fireball filed with the American Meteor Society, but meteor activity in general increases in October when compared to September.
The Orionids is active most of the month, reaching maximum activity on Oct. 22, along with many minor showers.
Both branches of the Taurids become more active as the month progresses, providing slow, graceful meteors to the nighttime scene.
For more about meteors and showers, visit http://www.amsmeteors.org.