Over 500 people reported a beautiful green fireball meteor over the eastern United States that zipped by around 8 PM EDT on Friday night. The American Meteor Society’s (AMS) Mike Hankey got enough data to provide a heat map that tracked the path of fast-moving space rock. Eyewitnesses as far north as Montreal, Canada and as far south as North Carolina were treated to the display.
A Massachusetts report to AMS said that it was visible for several seconds as it moved from west to east: “It started out white the glowed green with pieces falling off that appeared white or golden. I haven’t seen a fireball like this in decades.”
NBC confirmed that they had multiple witnesses from multiple locations of the dramatic green fireball streaking over Washington, D.C. and the surrounding region.
And NASA’s meteor expert Bill Cooke agreed that a single meteor about the size of a boulder a yard across flashed through the atmosphere about that time.
So, yeah, that meteor you heard about definitely happened. However, most of the photographs and videos? Not so much.
Ever try to photograph a meteor? Folks, by the time you find your cell phone and fumble around, it’s gone. At most, this fireball was visible for 10 seconds.
It generally requires a lot of advanced planning to have your camera set up to track the stars in the sky without blurring them while you hold the aperture open and wait for a meteor to fly across your field of view. For your best chance of success, you generally set up in a dark, rural location, with special equipment, during a predicted meteor storm.
So, no, most people weren’t standing around on a Friday night in Montreal, New York, or Washington D.C. hoping to get lucky with a good guy meteor. Instead, many people shared photos and videos of a 2010 eastern USA fireball meteor.
And while apparently in Russia it’s the in thing to drive around with a dash cam to record all your fireball spotting adventures, most Americans aren’t really in the habit unless they’re law enforcement officers.
Or as one wry Twitter user commented:
— Alice Lynch (@Darediva) March 23, 2013
Fox News received a Thurmont, MD security video with a time stamp at about the right time, which may show the alleged meteor:
This video may be for real, but I’ve seen so many fakes that I’m a skeptic on the topic of the eastern USA fireball meteor. What do you think?
[perseid meteor photo courtesy Brocken Inaglory and Wikipedia Commons]