Reports Report 387ab (Event 387-2022)

This report has been linked to the following event: Event 387-2022
NameBruce F
Experience Level3/5
RemarksI have observed perhaps five-to-fifteen meteor showers in my life. The weather and cold and affects on my sleep tend to be annoying, then the bad luck I've always had with the weather and bright skies has been another deterrent. I am a physicist with a few experimental hours on a 26-inch scope (33 yrs ago). I am also a trained weather forecaster/USAF weather officer familiar with clouds and optical phenomena of the skies. I don't think my sighting was anything of the meteorological type, nor was it a satellite (*unless the trail was just a glare). I try to be rigorously skeptical like a good scientist would be. I tried to verify if others saw what I saw. I was at a red traffic light (stop signal) almost seconds after my sighting. I unabashedly rolled down my passenger side window and got the attention of an adjacent bus' driver. I asked the politely responding man if he had just witnessed some kind of fireball on the horizon ahead. He said no. I suspect he is normal and won't go poking around any dash cam video to check for evidence, but I was not going to ask him. He was already polite enough to talk to the crazy man talking to other drivers on a Friday night! Probably thought I had been drinking until he realized I was a sky nerd. Anyhow, I have looked up online for reports of aircraft accidents in the area or meteor sightings, but neither have been reported so far, six hours later on this Friday night. This is a bit surprising. I was rather certain I saw something that would show up in the local news. Though, perhaps the local news is not updated for such things until tomorrow. Hmm, maybe I should have tried Facebook. Then again, no. That is overkill on the skepticism and verification pursuit. I quit FB a year ago and I don't need to get sucked back in. If you think I can fall into a rabbit hole on this sight, just imagine the "Meta".My thought was this was a meteor bright enough to stir up a small news story, perhaps with security camera or dashcam videos posted online. I was so concerned it might be an aircraft, I immediately opened my car's sunroof and checked that the sky was clear. Fortunately, it was, otherwise that would have meant this could not have been a meteor observation and thus was more likely a fatal aircraft accident. I also had no sense this was an optical phenomena due to some kind of glare on either my car windshield, my contact lenses, my corneas, or within my eyes (or even my optic lobe! :-D).Honestly, I am puzzled. This was bright enough to get me excited and as well a few edgy nervous folks who call 911 if they see a meteor. On the other hand, most folks are not looking skyward at 8:25 PM on a freezing-cold Friday night. I live in NJ, not Alaska. Add in COVID and the lower temps we've had, it's likely only a driver or a person walking their dog would have seen this.
AddressLivingston, NJ
Latitude40° 47' 49.2'' N (40.8°)
Longitude 74° 21' 1.61'' W (-74.35°)
Time and Duration
Local Date & Time2022-01-14 20:25 EST
UT Date & Time2022-01-15 01:25 UT
Moving directionFrom up right to down left
Descent Angle252°
Facing azimuth89.52°
First azimuth96.77°
First elevation20°
Last azimuth90.2°
Last elevation-
Brightness and color
Stellar Magnitude-23
Concurrent Sound
Delayed Sound
Persistent train
RemarksThe object and trail both brightened rapidly, with the trail dissipating a few degrees behind the leading edge/bright spot. The brightening trail grew in length until the noticeable dissipation of the tail of the trail set in and the length then remained constant. (It was rather rapid, though.) The trail ever-so-briefly was of constant length and then the object disappeared below the tree line. It IS possible the trail seemed to disappear with the object (indicating it was glare, not a meteor), but that was not my initial impression, just self-critical conjecture six hours later. The object and trail were ever-so-slightly hazy (dry contact lenses [strongly possible]? haze on car windshield [reasonably possible in the sub-freezing air with human breath in the car]?). The trail looked neither speckled nor disintegrative, nor did it look like wavering flames behind a rapidly-descending aircraft. Then again, at the object's distance, I don't know if flickering flame edges could have been distinguished from a smeared streak. The trail (and even the object) might have been a glare spot either on the windshield or my contact lenses. However, the human brain is adept at detecting subtle things, and the velocity (angle + speed) of the image seemed constant despite slight movement of the pitch and yaw of my car relative to the image AND despite movement of head angle and even position. With near 100% confidence, I say it was not my contact lenses since the image did not change velocity despite the changing velocity of my head and both eyes. I do admit to glancing down at my dashboard as the image appeared, so I had trouble getting a good mental focus and visual focus on the object (sometimes my contacts are dry and thus the haziness is there until I blink a few times, by which time the object was gone).
Terminal flash