LIGHT SHOW: Fireball Could Have Been Space Debris

Debate surrounds whether Thursday night’s light show seen over much of the Midwest was a meteor or space debris.

Hundreds of viewers reported seeing the event at around 5:40 p.m.  with descriptions of a bright, colorful light moving either east to west or south to north.

An amateur meteor spotter in Williamson caught the fireball on camera.  It shows what appears to be a meteor crossing the north sky.  Experts say meteors aren’t uncommon. On a clear night you can usually see several.  But to see one this large and bright is unusual.

richard miles“If it was a meteor it was probably a pretty good sized one to be as bright as it was,” the Science Center of Iowa’s astronomy expert Richard Miles said.

“It could also be some space debris.  Anything that goes through our atmosphere from outer space is going to be going at pretty intense speeds and that’s going to cause a lot of friction, cause a lot of heat, and that’s what causes the glowing that you see as a meteorite or debris burning up in the atmosphere.”

Miles says there is always a chance parts of the meteor made it all the way to the earth.

“This particular one sounds like it was big enough to where there could be something left behind that impacted somewhere,” Miles said. “With the video that was taken sometimes they can actually see based on the direction it was in and the angle it was moving they can actually trace where that may have impacted.”

The chances are very slim that anyone would be hurt by a meteorite hitting them. You’re more likely to win the lottery jackpot twice in a row.



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