Last night around 8:10 Eastern time, a giant fireball lit up the sky over Michigan, and was seen as far away as Pennsylvania and Missouri. The American Meteor Society received over 355 reports of the event from seven states. For a meteor, the rock was moving rather slow, clocking in right around 28,000 miles per hour, or about 7.7 miles per second. For reference, it would take you just five and a half minutes to go from Maine to California moving at this speed. The fastest meteors cam move up to 26 miles per second (or around 93,000 miles per hour).
Because it moved so slowly, and because it was so bright, NASA believes the rock was able to penetrate deeper into Earth’s atmosphere before breaking up. Because of this, the American Meteor Society believes that there may be meteorites on the ground!
Although I live in Indianapolis, I didn’t see or hear the event… And besides, it was about 3 degrees last night anyway!
Thankfully, there were many people who did see it, and managed to capture the explosion on video.
Another person found caught the rock on their home security camera and shared it to Instagram:
Even a traffic-monitoring camera caught the event:
— Storm Center 7 (@StormCenter7) January 17, 2018
And here’s a video with the Kalamazoo (Michigan) Astronomical Society President talking about the event:
Meteors like this may seem rare, but it’s important to remember that the Earth is pounded by space debris on a regular basis. Over 60 tons of space dust falls on Earth every single day. That’s the max load of one and a half semis falling from space on us every single day, so it makes sense that some bigger rocks would be thrown in the mix. Of these, it’s estimated that ten actually impact the Earth in any given year.
There are no reports of this meteor causing damage, unlike the Chelyabinsk meteor in Russia back in 2013, which was a 20 meter-wide rock that burned so hot that witnesses reported feeling intense heat from the fireball as its light was momentarily brighter than the sun.
#JustRussiaThings, I guess.
Did you see the meteor last night? Tell us about it in the comments!