Meteor Lights Up Eastern US Skies Friday Night
March 23, 2013

Over 300 Witness East Coast Fireball Friday Night

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

Hundreds of people, from both the Eastern US and Canada, have reported witnessing a flashing light that streaked across the skies early Friday night, with many of them sharing their experiences — and their photos and videos of the event — online through social media.

According to Associated Press (AP) and NBC News reports, at least 300 to 350 people reported witnessing the object at or around 8:00pm Eastern time.

Media reports state those sightings originated from as far south as Florida and as far north as Ontario and Quebec, with reports also coming from New England, New York, North Carolina and Washington DC.

The object was said to be a meteor bright enough to be classified as a fireball, meaning it was at least as bright as the planet Venus, Robert Lunsford from the American Meteor Society (AMS) told Reuters reporter Daniel Trotta.

He added the fireball had been spotted over “a good portion” of the eastern US, and that “a lot of people were out to see it” because of how early it occurred. Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environmental Office (MEO) told the AP it appeared to be “a single meteor event” and “a fireball that moved roughly toward the southeast, going on visual reports.”

“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,” Cooke explained, with Lunsford adding that the object “basically looked like a super bright shooting star.”

The Washington Post reported several eyewitnesses in the DC area expressed amazement over the size and nearness of the object, with multiple Maryland residents reporting it was the largest and closest meteor they had ever seen. In addition, words such as “amazing” and “unparalleled” were used to describe the fireball.

Along those same lines, NBC News Science Editor Alan Boyle said hundreds of observers turned to Twitter to record their observations. Some of those individuals, according to Boyle, recalled hearing a kind of hissing noise as it passed overhead, and others noted seeing flashes of green, red, and blue as it flew through the sky.

“It's not an incredibly rare event, but it is very unusual to have that many people observe it, and also it was unusually bright,” Ron Dantowitz, director of the Clay Center Observatory, told NBC Boston-area television station, according to Boyle. “These types of meteors happen once or twice a year. The unusual thing is that it was so well observed not so long after sunset.”