Around 6:30pm Monday evening, Twitter came alive with reports of a bright meteor over the Northeastern United States. Soon, the American Meteor Society’s fireball reporting web page began to fill up with reports of the meteor. I saw reports from Cape Cod to Pennsylvania, including some from here in Rhode Island.
This is a report from Sue F. who saw the fireball appearing to break up over Smithfield, RI:
“Was amazing!!! Way brighter and much, much bigger and lower than any shooting star I’ve ever seen….It had colors (blues, yellow, orange?) and flashes… It was sort of visually crackling – different parts of the trail got brighter then dimmer, then broke apart – like bits were breaking off the meteor, flaring, then dying”. — from American Meteor Society’s web page.
Dashcam video was captured by Peter Czech in New Jersey. You can see the fireball in the upper-right corner of the image below.
In Woonsocket, Greg C. wrote on the AMS website that the meteor “Flashed gold as it broke up. Not quite a flash but a fast increase in intensity….Fragments were two different colors gold and blue as it went out.” –from American Meteor Society’s web page
Seeing meteors or shooting stars is not uncommon, but this was a rare sight. This meteor was very bright and long. It is unknown if the source of the meteor was natural (space rock) or man-made (space junk). It is unlikely this is part of the Quadrantid meteor shower, which is now beginning to pick up. Those meteors are typically not visible until after midnight.
There were no reports of the meteor hitting the ground this evening.
-Meteorologist T.J. Del Santo
on Twitter: @tjdelsanto
12AM UPDATE: Here’s an additional video of the fireball from Lancaster, PA.