A meteorite streaked across the US East Coast on Friday, dazzling observers and causing a major hubbub on social media networks as the sighting was reported.
The American Meteorite Society scrambled to keep up with the volume of reports as US observers wrote in to report the fireball that soared over their homes on March 22, allowing them to generate a “heat map” of sightings that stretches all the way from Maine to North Carolina.
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The AMS received well over 500 reports of an East coast “fireball march,” which noted that while fireballs (larger than most meteorites) “occur every day over all parts of the Earth… It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it.”
NASA’s Bill Cooke told the Associated Press that the fireball appeared to be a “single meteor event,” while adding that “Judging from the brightness, we’re dealing with something as bright as the full moon.”
“The thing is probably a yard across. We basically have (had) a boulder enter the atmosphere over the northeast,” added Cooke.
“People saw this for about three to five seconds, 10 seconds max,” said Clay Center astronomer Kelly Beatty to the Boston Globe, assuaging fears that the fireball was as dangerous as the recent Russian explosion. “It’s deceptive. It looks so close, but this is not something that happens close to the ground. About 50 to 60 miles up is typical for this, depending on the angle.”