A bigger-than-normal meteor that flew over caught our attention early Thursday morning. Experts have categorized it as a fireball because the flash was so bright.
Atlas Project Scientist Larry Denneau tells us the bigger the meteor the rarer it is to see. The meteor was so bright it lit up the night sky as it cascaded down. It didn’t last long but it was noticeable.
“It came in the atmosphere probably going thousands of miles per hour and made a really big flash brighter than the full moon for about one second,” said Denneau.
The Institute for Astronomy also got an image of it from a weather-monitoring camera on Mauna Loa.
“This one is called a fireball because it makes a pretty good flash and there’s a lot of energy associated with it,” he said. “This camera that we use to monitor the weather is on for about 40 seconds and off for about 10 seconds, so we got a 75 percent of catching these.”
A typical meteor is usually the size of a BB or pea but Denneau says the one that flashed the sky early Thursday morning may be the size of a softball or volleyball.
“The bigger they are the rarer they are. Something the size of a pea or peanut you might see a dozen of those a night,” said Denneau, “but we think every few months something the size of a softball or volleyball will be visible to us somewhere on the globe.”
Atlas Project Scientist Larry Denneau tells us this fireball burned up before it reached the earth’s surface so it posed no threat.
“You got to be pretty big as the size of a car for even small pieces to make it to the ground.”
But it sure did make for an unexpected spectacle.