Three Fireballs Light Up Skies Over Eastern U.S.

This heat map shows the locations of people who reported seeing a fireball above the eastern United States on Nov. 3, 2014. (PHOTO CREDIT: American Meteor Society)
This heat map shows the locations of people who reported seeing a fireball above the eastern United States on Nov. 3, 2014. (PHOTO CREDIT: American Meteor Society)

Three brilliant fireballs – two from space and one apparently made by humans – lit up skies over the U.S. on Monday, prompting hundreds of reports by surprised skywatchers.

The first fireball – the general name given to objects that shine brighter than the planet Venus as they streak through the sky – appeared over Arkansas at 9:30 a.m. CST; the second was spotted over Chicago at about 6:30 p.m. CST; the third appeared over West Virginia at about 6:22 p.m. EST. The objects over Arkansas and West Virginia appear to be meteors, but the object over Chicago now seems to be man-made.

Spectator Steve Sobel captured the last few seconds of what initially appeared to be a meteor moving through the eastern sky of Chicago. Another video posted on Tuesday, however, revealed that the event was a marketing stunt by Red Bull.

The Red Bull video is dark, but appears to show at least one person jump out of a plane in a wingsuit over Chicago’s Lake Michigan shoreline. One of the flyers releases a bright stream of sparks behind him. According to the video description, the flyers landed safely.

Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteorite Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center, initially said that the Chicago meteor was “a bit of a puzzle.” Cooke explained that in the video by Steve Sobel, the object was moving “much slower than a normal meteor.” Normally that might mean the object was man-made space junk, falling through the atmosphere. But Cooke also said there were no reported re-entries over the US that night.

Two more fireballs
The most visible of the three Monday fireballs was spotted over West Virginia, but sightings were reported as far north as Pennsylvania and as far south at Georgia. More than 500 people have made reports on the American Meteor Society website.

Cooke told Space.com that the object was roughly as bright as a quarter moon, was definitely a space rock, and was “probably the size of a softball or baseball.”

Because the fireball traveled west to east, it was not a Taurid meteor, Cooke added. From September to November, the northern and southern Taurid meteor showers pepper Earth with meteorites that appear to originate in the constellation Taurus. This year, the first meteors in the northern Taurid shower were seen on Oct. 31, and Cooke said skywatchers should expect to continue to see them through the weekend.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Fox News
Space.com
Calla Cofield

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