A brilliant fireball lit up the skies over the midwestern United States, treating bystanders on the ground to an amazing light show last Friday (Sept. 27).
The cosmic display came courtesy of a meteoroid traveling at about 114,000 miles per hour (51 km/s) that crashed into Earth's atmosphere high above Columbus, Ohio. The light show could be seen in 14 states.
A NASA all-sky camera in Hiram Ohio captured the fireball as it streaked through the sky at 11:33 p.m. EDT (0333 Sept. 28 GMT). You can see video of the remarkable fireball here.
"This was a very bright event," Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office told Spaceweather.com. "Flares saturated our meteor cameras, and made determination of the end point (the terminus of the fireball's flight through the atmosphere) virtually impossible. Judging from the brightness, we are dealing with a meter class object."
The bright event amazed people who happened to be watching from the ground. As of Sept. 28, the American Meteor Society received more than 450 reports of the fireball sighting with more than 400 still yet to be reviewed.
"It was the most brilliant fireball that I have ever seen," Angela McClain told Spaceweather.com. "The entire landscape lit up. I spun around and there it was, a huge, bright green light, streaking across the sky. Even when it was gone, there was still a bright line in the sky about 20 seconds later. We were all stunned."
Friday's fireball may not have been the only major meteoroid event witnessed in the Midwest last week. On Sept. 26, the AMS got more than 730 reports of a separate fireball sighting in Ohio, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Indiana and Wisconsin.
Editor's note: If you snapped an amazing photo of the fireball or any other night sky view that you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please send images and comments, including equipment used, to managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.