FIREBALL ALERT: On Sunday morning, Jan. 15th, between 1:56 and 1:59 a.m. PST (0956 - 0959 UT), a brilliant fireball will streak over northern California and Nevada. It's NASA's Stardust capsule, returning to Earth with samples of dust from Comet Wild 2. The best observing sites: near Carlin and Elko, Nevada, (see map below) where the man-made meteor is expected to shine as much as 60 times brighter than Venus.
If you're too far away to see the fireball, you might be able to hear it--on the radio. The technique is called "meteor scatter." Tune an FM radio to a silent spot between local stations and point the radio's antenna in the general direction of northern Nevada. When the Stardust capsule rips through the atmosphere, it will create an electrically ionized wake that reflects radio waves. You could suddenly pick up stations hundreds to thousands of miles away reflected in your direction from the fireball's tail.