Slow-Moving Houston Fireball Frightens Locals, UFO Conspiracy Theorists Raise Questions

Bradley Ryder

The recent sighting of a fireball over Houston skies had locals frightened out of their wits. While experts in space and the solar system say the Texas fireball was a meteor, UFO conspiracy theorists are skeptic, and claim the slow-moving object was not a space rock but a visit from aliens and extraterrestrial life.

Houston-area residents were going about their lazy day for the holiday weekend, but on Sunday evening, the daytime sky lit up even brighter, citing a USA Today video news report on the unidentified flying object. Locals observed what looked like a comet or fireball. However, this particular object, according to some who've seen similar objects in the nighttime sky, moved too slow, almost as if it were gliding instead of streaking.

— KHOU 11 News Houston (@KHOU) January 21, 2015

"I'm always looking in the sky to try to catch something out of the ordinary. I look up in the sky and just right there in the sky is a huge fireball with a giant fire tail on it just streaking across the sky!"

— UFO Sightings (@spacebuggz) January 20, 2015

"At first I thought it was a meteor but it was moving way too slow. Meteors usually go a lot faster," the Texas man added.

A reporter from KHOU 11 followed up on reports of the fireball. Based on the fact that many sites reported the fireball moved uncharacteristically slow, it piqued their interest. Patricia Reiff, astronomy and physics professor at Rice University, offered her take on the Houston UFO. Oddly enough, she said the slow movement is not all that uncommon.

"What we are seeing is a fireball or a bolide [a form of meteor]. Usually they don't linger quite so long, so this is exceptional because of how long it stayed in the air!"

She contrasted the fireball in Texas with the one in Chelyabinsk, Russia two years ago. The Russian meteor, thought to be 55-feet in diameter, caused an enormous shock wave, which damaged buildings and caused a number of injuries. The Texas fireball, no bigger than a microwave oven, was benign by comparison. Its entry did not result in any reported structural damage or injuries. Beforehand, residents like Sterling, at the time, thought it was the big one.

"I was freaking out!" said Sterling. "Definitely I didn't know what it could've been. I thought it was going to crash somewhere and cause some serious damage! Never seen anything like that before. Ever."
"A really dangerous meteor happens very seldom. Even the one in Russia last year nobody was hurt by the meteor, what hurt people was the breaking glass caused by the sonic boom," Reiff added.

Did you see the Houston fireball streaking across the sky. Share your thoughts or experience below.

[Image via: Wikimedia Commons]