Hexbyte – News – Science/Nature |
The fireworks are over, but nature put on a show Sunday night with a fireball visible over a very large part of the Midwest.
The American Meteor Society said it has received more than 240 reports from nine states about the event. The reports allowed the society to estimate the track of the meteor from north of Des Moines running southeast just across the river into Illinois.
The society’s website, amsmeteors.org, said the trajectory was shallow enough the meteor could have simply grazed the upper atmosphere. But multiple witness reports suggest it did more than that. They saw the meteor break into pieces, which would indicate flight deeper into the atmosphere.
This one qualified as a fireball, which the AMS defined on its website as a “very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4,” or about the same as when Venus appears as the morning or evening star.
Reports about the fireball came in from eastern Nebraska all the way to central Michigan, with one possible report as far away as Cleveland. The range north to south was from Minneapolis to St. Louis.
According to the website, observers in the following Chicago-area towns reported seeing the fireball: Des Plaines, Vernon Hills, Naperville, Elgin, Schaumburg, Chicago, Hoffman Estates, Orland Park, Mount Prospect, Palatine, North Aurora, Woodstock and Joliet.
Bill Cox said on the Courier’s Facebook page the fireball lasted five to 10 seconds and was headed southeast, which matches up with the track the AMS estimated. Other area residents in Albia and Eddyville also reported spotting the fireball.
While seeing a fireball over any given area is rare, the events themselves are comparatively common. The AMS said one takes place roughly every 20 hours. But, since most of the planet is either uninhabited or ocean, most are never seen.
You can see an interactive map of the reports from Sunday’s event here.