A fireball was visible in the sky from at least four local states yesterday — Valentine’s Day, no less — the American Meteor Society confirms today. The meteor was likely the size of a “small car” before it hit the upper atmosphere and deteriorated, saving us all sans Bruce Willis. “With it terminating over the Atlantic Ocean, there is no hope for recovering any possible debris,” said the AMS operations manager. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t startle some witnesses, like the Twitter user who wrote, “Just saw a weird comet-like thingy go over Roosevelt Island. Any ideas as to what it is (or am I going crazy)?” Not crazy, after all!
Philly.com has more details:
It might have been 5 feet in diameter with a weight of more 5 metric tons, judging from reports that it blazed as bright as a full moon, said NASA scientist Bill Cooke of the Marshall Space Flight Center.
He based his estimate on “a reasonable speed” of 33,500 mph.
“My crude estimate of the energy of this fireball is about 100 tons of TNT, which means it was capable of producing a crater 125 feet in diameter and about 15 feet deep, assuming an impact into sandstone,” Cooke said.
In addition to Pennsylvania, sightings were also reported in Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York.
NBC New York quotes Professor Jon Friedrich, who says that meteors approach Earth daily. Still, he notes, “It is unusual to see one so bright in the middle of the day.”
Meanwhile, for Mike of Mike’s Astro Photos, presumably a niche site if there ever was one, this is his Watergate.