A so-called “fireball” (the space community’s word for a meteor that is brighter than the planet Venus) streaked across parts of central and southeastern Iowa, and western Illinois, Sunday night, and the scientific agency that tracks these things says they received reports of the event from all over the Midwest.
As The Des Moines Register reports, the space rock began tearing across central and southeastern Iowa at about 8:40 p.m. Central Time (9:40 p.m. Eastern Time), just as dusk was settling in. The American Meteor Society, which tracks and records these events, received 270 reports of the meteor from Iowa alone. Other witnesses saw the event in Minnesota, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin. According to Tech Times, other reports came in from as far away as Cleveland and St. Louis.
Naming the event “#2307-2018,” the American Meteor Society used reports to calculate the meteor’s entry point, trajectory, and possible exit point. The group determined that it must have entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a shallow angle and then skipped off the atmosphere, in much the same way that a stone skips across the surface of a lake or river.
However, according to KCRG-TV (Cedar Rapids), University of Iowa astronomy Steven Spangler disputes that. He says that the meteor, which he reckons was about the size of a baseball, likely broke up. Pieces of it may have even hit the ground. He also says that luck was on the side of the people of Iowa that night.
“By pure coincidence, it’s just, they’re random shooters and they’re just gonna hit here sooner or later. I think these meteors are moving all over the Earth, I mean the Earth’s a big target, they hit all over the place, it was just our number was up.”
Missouri resident Daniel Bush captured the object on several cameras on his property.
Similarly, Facebook user Brandi House captured video of the object streaking across the sky.
“I don’t know what this was but it shot across the sky all colorful like then hung out in the sky for a bit….I’m not saying UFO but who knows right?”
Catching such a brightly-colored meteor is a rare treat. Specks of space dust and space rocks bombard the Earth’s atmosphere tens of thousands of times per day, but most go unseen due to occurring during the day, or occurring over oceans or unpopulated areas.
And by the way, an annual meteor shower, the Perseids, will occur on August 12.