NBC News reported that hundreds of people observed a brilliant flash of light that lit up the nighttime skies down the East coast on Friday night, March 22.
The American Meteor Society logged more than 300 reports from a region ranging from North Carolina to Washington to New York to New England to Canada. In addition hundreds of others relied on social media, such as Twitter, to register their observations.
One observer noted an “almost hissing noise as it flew brightly overhead.” Some witnesses reported seeing “flashes of green, red and blue as the object streaked past,” according to NBC News.
The reports generally describe some kind of fireball, but one that was considerably smaller than the one that flashed over Russia this past February.
Ron Dantowitz, director of the Clay Center Observatory, told NBC station WDHD-TV in Boston, reported, “It’s not an incredibly rare event, but it is very unusual to have that many people observe it, and also it was unusually bright,” These types of meteors happen once or twice a year. The unusual thing is that it was so well observed not so long after sunset.”
Scientists say that meteors and astral activity are commonplace and occur more frequently than most people realize. After the series of fireball sightings in Florida and elsewhere last month, Susan Barnett at Miami’s Buehler Planetarium stated to Newsmax that, “Earth is in the middle of a cosmic shooting gallery. We’re getting hit with stuff from space every single day. As a matter of fact, we figure 100 tons of material hits the top of the Earth’s atmosphere. Most of it burns up.”
Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environmental Office told The Associated Press that the flash appeared to be “a fireball that moved roughly toward the southeast, going on visual reports.”
“Judging from the brightness, we’re dealing with something as bright as the full moon,” Cooke said. “The thing is probably a yard across. We basically have (had) a boulder enter the atmosphere over the Northeast.”
Increasing meteor sightings:
Although June 30 is designated as Meteor Watch Day, a time during which individuals scan the nighttime skies for meteor showers, it seems as though thousands of people across the country and around the world as seeing more and more meteors. Called “shooting stars” or “falling stars,” these celestial fragments streak across the night sky.
Actually meteors are space dust and ice that enter the earth’s atmosphere. They range in size from small specks of dust to the size of boulder or an object weighing thousands of pounds. As they enter the atmosphere at high speeds, they burn up, producing light, while streaking across the night sky. Sometimes, you see them streak across the sky and disappear at the horizon. Other times, they end suddenly, burning out right before your eyes.
Although you may be able to see a meteor on just about any night of the year, the best time to see such a display is during a meteor shower, which occurs a number of times each year.
Earth’s Sky describes meteor showers in this way: “Meteor showers occur over a range of dates, as Earth moves through space, crossing ‘meteor streams,’ icy particles in space that come from comets moving in orbit around the sun. Comets are fragile icy bodies that litter their orbits with debris. When this cometary debris enters our atmosphere, it vaporizes due to friction with the air. If moonlight or city lights don’t obscure the view, we on Earth see the falling, vaporizing particles as meteors.”
Earth’s Sky offers a Meteor Shower Guide for 2013.
The accompanying video shows the meteor over Manhattan, and the slide show display photos and illustrations of some of the meteor showers that occur throughout the year.
The increasing celestial activity, such as meteors, meteorites and asteroids continue to generate discussion among those who see such phenomena as “signs in the heavens above” that are said to increase as the return of Christ nears.
Take a look at some related articles on this subject:
Two asteroids pass near earth Saturday: More signs some say
Meteors sighted over Russia and San Francisco: Some say signs of the end times
Observing the leonids annual meteor shower