Skywatchers across Western Australia caught sight of an incredible fireball on Tuesday night (Aug. 28), and many were lucky enough to capture the spectacle on film.
The fireball was a meteor about 1.6 feet (50 centimeters) across entering Earth's atmosphere at about 7:40 p.m. local time (7:40 a.m. EDT and 1140 GMT), a spokesperson from nearby Perth Observatory wrote in an email to Space.com.
The spokesperson wrote that the observatory received "dozens of calls from frantic people" who saw the meteor's entry.
Because so many people captured videos of the fireball, scientists may be able to use the film to piece together its trajectory through the sky.
Scientists from Curtin University's Fireballs in the Sky team are following up on the fireball observations that local residents have made, in the hope of tracking down remnants of the meteor. According to the Perth Observatory, the scientists are focusing their search on the town of York, 60 miles (100 kilometers) east of Perth, the capital of the state of Western Australia.
Meteorites can be tricky to differentiate from terrestrial rocks, but they tend to have a black coating and to feel a little heavier than normal rocks.
Studying meteorites can help scientists better understand the asteroids those rocks fall from, which in turn can help them evaluate the risks posed by larger meteors ― the kind that don't just light up the sky.
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Meghan is a senior writer at Space.com and has more than five years' experience as a science journalist based in New York City. She joined Space.com in July 2018, with previous writing published in outlets including Newsweek and Audubon. Meghan earned an MA in science journalism from New York University and a BA in classics from Georgetown University, and in her free time she enjoys reading and visiting museums. Follow her on Twitter at @meghanbartels.