Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Meteor Explodes over Michigan

Meteor seen over Michigan on January 16. Credit: Mike Austin/Youtube

A meteor entering the Earth’s atmosphere exploded in Michigan’s sky on Tuesday night in a spectacle that briefly illuminated the city of Detroit. The US Geological Survey confirmed the meteor had entered the atmosphere about 5 miles from New Haven, Michigan (about 36 miles north of The Motor City), and registered a force equivalent to a magnitude 2.0 earthquake.

NASA officials confirmed its meteor camera spotted the event at about 8:08 p.m. at Oberlin College in Ohio. The image shows a tiny white ball traversing the screen until a bright flash is seen when it appears to make impact.

The nighttime spectacle was a “huge event” astronomically speaking, and rare sight for Michigan, said Bill Cooke with NASA’s meteoroid environment office in Alabama. “It is definitely a meteoroid.”

The nighttime display quickly set social media aflutter with posts about UFOs and explosions as locals and experts alike marveled over the cinematic scope.

Videos posted across social media networks showed a bright spot streaking across the sky before exploding, flooding the darkness with light. Social media users who witnessed the event said the flash of light was followed by loud booms several minutes later.

The American Meteor Society (AMS) has received over 355 reports so far about a fireball event seen above Michigan on January 16 around. The fireball was seen primarily from Michigan but was also seen from Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Missouri and Ontario (Canada).

According to AMS, this was a very slow moving meteor – speed of about 28,000 miles per hour (45,000 km/h). This fact, combined with the brightness of the meteor (which suggests a fairly big space rock), shows that the object penetrated deep into the atmosphere before it broke apart (which produced the sounds heard by at least 77 observers). It is likely that there are meteorites on the ground near this region.

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