A number of residents in Texas reported a fireball streaking across the sky Saturday night, alleging that it burned brighter than the full moon, and now scientists are investigating.
According to the Daily Mail, the American Meteor Society received more than 200 reports about the fireball over San Antonio. Witnesses claimed that its brightness rivaled that of the sun, and the Maverick County Sheriff’s Department reported calls from residents who said their houses shook as the fireball passed.
— Amy Rovin (@MomRovin) November 9, 2014
Dr. Bill Cooke, of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, confirmed that a fireball did indeed streak across the Texas sky, CNN reports. He added that scientists are still investigating details of the phenomenon.
This was definitely what we call a fireball, which by definition is a meteor brighter than the planet Venus. This event was so bright that it was picked up on a NASA meteor camera in the mountains of New Mexico over 500 miles away, which makes it extremely unusual.
“This was a very bright event.”
— AMSMETEORS (@amsmeteors) November 9, 2014
Based on available data from NASA’s cameras, Cooke stated that the meteor was at least four feet wide, weighing about 4,000 pounds. He noted that it was possible that meteorites from the fireball could have struck the ground, as pressure from entering Earth’s atmosphere could have caused the fireball to break apart in an explosion.
The North Taurid meteor shower is currently happening, and could be the source of the Texas meteor, as the event is known for producing bright fireballs. Though scientists must wait for more data, they assert that the fireball also could have originated from the Comet Encke or the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Last month, a mysterious fireball was spotted in the skies over Alabama. As the Inquisitr noted, the incident coincided with the annual Orionid meteor shower’s peak, leading many to conclude that the two phenomenon were connected.
Cooke noted that fireballs aren’t uncommon, though they are often masked by daylight or occur over uninhabited areas. Thousands of fireballs enter the Earth’s atmosphere each day, though many go unreported. Cooke also pointed out that the Texas fireball occurred at 8:40 pm, asserting that there would be fewer reports had it fallen to Earth in the early hours of the morning.
[Image: Shadeth/YouTube via the Daily Mail]