Technology & Science

Asteroid explosion lights up early-morning sky over Arizona

An overnight asteroid explosion over Arizona lit up the sky so brightly that it appeared as if it were daylight for several seconds.

Fireball was 10 times brighter than the full moon

An overnight asteroid explosion over Arizona lit up the sky so brightly that it appeared as if it were daylight for a short time.

Videos show the sky temporarily illuminated by a blast of light just before 4 a.m. MT Thursday. The light from the explosion was 10 times the brighter than a full moon, according to SpaceWeatherNews.

NASA cameras are finding it difficult to collect data because their cameras were "almost completely saturated by the bright event," according to Bill Cooke from NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.

The asteroid also left smoke trails in the sky.

Nope, that's not daytime: the asteroid exploded just before 4 a.m. MT Thursday, illuminating the skies. (Joe Wright/Youtube)
This is what the street looked like right before the asteroid exploded over Arizona. (Joe Wright/Youtube)

Rock was travelling 64,700 km/h

The small asteroid, which was about one to two metres in diameter, burst into the Earth's atmosphere at about 64,700 kilometres an hour, according to NASA.

The space agency says it exploded at an altitude of about 90 kilometres over the Tonto National Forest, east of the town of Payson, Ariz.

Phoenix resident Mike Lerch snapped this photo outside his home of the smoke trails from the explosion. (Mike Lerch/Spaceweather.com)

"There are no reports of any damage or injuries — just a lot of light and few sonic booms," said Cooke.

He added there are probably pieces of the asteroid left over.

"If Doppler radar is any indication, there are almost certainly meteorites scattered on the ground north of Tucson."