A fireball has been reported streaking across the sky above New York, Philadelphia and New Jersey, with some sightings reported all the way down in South Carolina.
The meteor was reported to the American Meteor Society (AMS) by more than 450 people, at time of writing. The event took place at approximately 6.30 a.m. ET, with the meteor traveling north east to south west.
Images and video posted to the AMS show a bright object moving across the sky before disappearing into the horizon. Jeremy Settle, assistant news director at the News 12 New Jersey network, posted a video of the event to Twitter. “The light ball in the sky from a few minutes ago as seen by my West New York, NJ cam… meteor?” he wrote.
A report from the AMS, a non-profit organization that monitors meteor sightings, said: “[We have] received over 450 reports so far about of a bright fireball seen above the East Coast area on January 9th, 2019 around 6:34am EST (11:34 Universal Time.) The event was seen from Connecticut to South Carolina.
“The preliminary 3D trajectory computed based on all the reports submitted to the AMS shows that the fireball was traveling from North-East to South-West and ended its flight somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean North East of Norfolk, VA.”
It said “fireball” is just another term for a very bright meteor—normally classified as being brighter than the planet Venus. Every day, the Earth is bombarded by several thousand meteors, however most of these take place over the ocean and thus go unnoticed. “Those that occur at night also stand little chance of being detected due to the relatively low numbers of persons out to notice them … So, if you saw this one: congrats, it’s a nice way start the year!” it said.
Prior to the meteor above the U.S. East Coast, another fireball appeared over the U.K. on Tuesday. The meteor was reported by 75 people across England and Scotland, with further reports from the Netherlands. Footage from the event can be seen below.
The biggest meteors are known as “boldies.” They are of a magnitude far higher than a fireball and appear to be about as bright as the Moon. The next step up is a superboldie, an example of which includes the Chelyabinsk event in Russia in February 2013. The light from this meteor was brighter than the Sun and was visible over 60 miles away. The 20-meter-wide asteroid was traveling at around 42,000 miles per hour and produced a huge shock wave that caused windows to smash and collapsed the roof of a factor.
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