Rotating Question Curious About Astronomy? Ask an Astronomer

Did I really hear a meteor?

Upon watching the sky and on several occasions, I have noticed a sound such as hissing that seems to have come from all around me, and occurs when I see meteors. My last observation with this kind of phenomena was in November 2002 I was looking straight up and the split-second before a meteorite came into view. The sound was all around me (hissing) and lasted until the meteor burned out. This is a strange phenomenon that I have witnessed on several occasions. Is there really a sound associated with meteors?

You are not alone in "hearing" a meteor! Although it stumped scientists for many years, many now believe that radio waves emitted by the meteorite at the same time that the visible light is emitted can travel to Earth and cause nearby objects to vibrate and cause a hissing kind of sound. This phenomenon has been called the "electrophonic effect", and is though to explain the many reports of hissing sounds simultaneously accompanying observed meteors.

Look here for more details on the electrophonic effect.

January 2003, Kristine Spekkens (more by Kristine Spekkens) (Like this Answer)

Still Curious?

Get More 'Curious?' with Our New PODCAST:

More questions about Comets, Meteors and Asteroids: Previous | Next

How to ask a question:

If you have a follow-up question concerning the above subject, submit it here. If you have a question about another area of astronomy, find the topic you're interested in from the archive on our site menu, or go here for help.

Table 'curious.Referrers' doesn't existTable 'curious.Referrers' doesn't exist

URL: http://curious.astro.cornell.edu/question.php?number=458
This page has been accessed 23436 times since February 2, 2003.
Last modified: February 2, 2003 9:15:14 PM

Legal questions? See our copyright, disclaimer and privacy policy.
Ask an Astronomer is hosted by the Astronomy Department at Cornell University and is produced with PHP and MySQL.

Warning: Your browser is misbehaving! This page might look ugly. (Details)