Bright fireball lights up sky from New Hampshire to North Carolina

Meteor image captured by NASA on March 21, 2021

Did you see it? NASA Meteor Watch says a very bright fireball was spotted across the East Coast around 12:26 a.m. Sunday morning.

The meteor was also detected by three meteor cameras belonging to the NASA Fireball Network and two cameras of the Southern Ontario Meteor Network, NASA said.

“A quick analysis of the best set of video data from these systems shows that the object first became visible 55 miles (88 kilometers) above the town of Greenstone, near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border,” NASA noted. “Moving northwest at 51,000 miles per hour (23 kilometers per second), the fireball traversed 38 miles (61 kilometers) through the atmosphere before fragmenting 28 miles (45 kilometers) above the Pennsylvania town of Newburg.”

The American Meteor Society recorded more than 75 sightings of the meteor early Sunday. Observers described the fireball as white or light blue with a bright tail.

“It was fast and the tail was short,” one Virginia resident wrote. “Maybe a second of white light then it was gone.”

According to the society, fireballs are very bright meteors, about as bright as Venus in the morning and evening skies.

About 10 to 15 meteorites fall to Earth each day, but sightings are rare since streaking fireballs often fall over the ocean, or during daylight hours when they can’t be seen.

NASA says the orbit and brightness of the meteor (roughly that of the gibbous moon) indicate that the fireball was caused by an asteroidal fragment weighing 7 pounds (3 kilograms) and about 5 inches (13 centimeters) in diameter.

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Kari Pugh is digital director for OBXToday.com, Beach 104, 99.1 The Sound, 94.5 WCMS and News Talk 92.3 WZPR. Reach her at kpugh@jammediallc.com