On October 28, residents of Michigan, Wisconsin and Illinois were treated to a “spectacular” fireball as the Sun was rising. So powerful was the fireball that people were able to see it, despite daylight beginning to take place.
Tens of people reported the phenomenon to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO), describing their experience of the small space rock hitting Earth’s atmosphere.
Many described the trail of the fireball taking on a blue colour, likely because of certain gasses packed into the atmosphere.
Jean said: “Saw it just after sunrise as the sky was brightening up. It was very bright and spectacular.”
David simply told the IMO: “It was outstanding.”
Amber stated: “It was very bright green! It was so bright out, sun was almost up! I couldn’t believe it. I’ve never seen one during the day.”
Amanda said: “It was brief, but certainly caught my eye. It was light blue fading into a darker blue then orange then dark yellow then light yellow and a trail of white behind it. It disappeared mid-air.”
Jenn told the IMO: “It looked like a giant shooting star in the eastern sky starting from south and falling to the north.”
Fireballs are caused when small asteroids or meteors hit the Earth’s atmosphere.
It will be the first time these rocks have ever encountered air resistance, and as pockets of air seep into the pores of the rock, it gets pushed apart, causing it to explode.
The IMO said: “Fireballs are meteors that appear brighter than normal.
“Due to the velocity at which they strike the Earth’s atmosphere, fragments larger than one millimetre have the capability to produce a bright flash as they streak through the heavens above.
“These bright meteors are what we call fireballs and they often strike fear and awe for those who witness them.”
While this meteor was small, the bright flash reiterates the need for eyes on the skies to watch out for potential asteroid collisions.
While the chances of a major asteroid hitting Earth are small – NASA believes there is a one in 300,000 chance every year that a space rock which could cause regional damage will hit – the devastating prospect is not impossible.
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