Brilliant fireball captured breaking up over several U.S. states
More than 200 reports were made to American Meteor Society
People from across 12 states witnessed an incredible fireball streaking across the sky early Monday morning.
The reports started flowing in to the American Meteor Society (AMS) — an organization that collects sightings of meteors — almost immediately, around 2:30 a.m ET.
"I was in a brightly lit room. I noticed the fireball through the blinds in the window in front of me," Allan F reported to the AMS." At first, I thought it was a very low plane heading towards MKE [General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee, Wisconsin], but when I looked directly at it, I recognized that it was a fireball."
While many didn't report a sound, some did.
"The sound was extremely loud — I was somewhat surprised there were no car alarms going off or lights turning on in the neighborhood. My dog is still a little skiddish [sic] and it is several hours later," Tami B, who lives in Wisconsin, reported to the AMS.
The reports came mainly from Wisconsin and Illinois. However, others came in from as far south as southern Indiana and Kentucky. There was also one report from Ontario.
Most meteors burn up as they enter the atmosphere, but some that are big enough can make it to the ground. And some, if they are particularly large, can cause an air burst which is heard as a loud boom.
On February 15, 2013, a large meteor broke up over Chelyabinsk, Russia, and the resulting air burst blew out windows, injuring about 1,000 people.
So far there haven't been any reports of Monday's meteor hitting the ground. The AMS estimates that the meteor was travelling from the southwest to north east and may have ended up in Lake Michigan.
While spotting a meteor as bright as this one is rare, it's estimated that anywhere between 37,000 and 78,000 tons of meteorite debris falls to Earth each year, mostly in the form of dust-sized particles.