Fireball lights up East Coast skies

A Twitter post by the American Meteor Society shows a heat map indicating the locations and frequency of sightings Thursday.

Story highlights

  • A fireball was seen in at least 10 states a little after 7 p.m. Thursday
  • "It was a huge yellow burning tail," one viewer wrote to a meteor tracking group
  • Others said it was green, white or blue
  • Such events are common, but often go unseen, American Meteor Society says
A dazzling meteor lit up skies Thursday night in at least 10 states, from Ohio to Maryland and all the way down to South Carolina.
"It was a huge yellow burning tail streaking what seemed right over the city," one poster on the American Meteor Society's reporting page wrote from Virginia Beach, Virginia. "It was angled in a way that it looked like it was going to crash into the city."
Others on Twitter described the meteor, which appeared a little after 7 p.m., as white, blue or green.
In Silver Spring, Maryland, another poster to the Meteor Society page wrote that it "looked like a plane on fire close by."
It wasn't, of course. It was almost certainly an unusually bright meteor classified by the American Meteor Society as a fireball -- a bit of rock, metal or ice from space that shines brighter than Venus as it burns up in Earth's atmosphere.
The object had generated at least 155 reports to the meteor tracking group as of Friday morning.
A similar event happened late Monday, viewed by at least 100 people from Maryland north to Connecticut. The organization says "several thousand" meteors that could be classified as fireballs enter the atmosphere every day, but most go unseen because they burn up over oceans or uninhabited areas.