Meteors, Red Bull Responsible For Recent Reports Of Fireballs In The Eastern US

Chuck Bednar for – Your Universe Online
Hundreds of people in the eastern US recently reported seeing what is being described as three unique fireball events on Monday evening, including one which was apparently man-made.
According to Robert Lundsford of the American Meteor Society, the organization had received more than 700 reports of witnesses seeing a bright fireball from Georgia and South Carolina and as far north as Ohio and Michigan. This event took place around 6:23pm EST on Monday, November 3, 2014, and many of those reporting the fireball told the society that it was vivid green in color.
That fireball was preceded earlier in the day by one that appeared over Arkansas at 9:30am CST and followed by one spotted over Chicago at about 6:30 p.m. CST,’s Calla Cofield reported on Wednesday. The Arkansas fireball was believed to be genuine, and was also spotted over Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama, according to Lundsford, but the Chicago one was a different story – it was apparently a promotional stunt by the Red Bull energy drink company.

As Chicago Tribune reporter Quinn Ford wrote on Tuesday, the so-called “bright white-yellowish object with a tail” that was reported by at least nine people was actually three skydiving members of the Red Bull Air Force that had flares shooting from their shoes as they “drifted toward North Avenue Beach.” The company said the event was staged to promote the “Red Bull Art of Can” exhibit in Millennium Park.
Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society, told Ford that the organization initially thought the Chicago object was a meteor or a piece of “space junk” burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere, but eventually he and his colleagues realized that there would have been more eyewitnesses to such an event. The other two events, however, were definitely fireballs and not marketing stunts, Hankey told the Chicago Tribune.
As Josh Barrett of and WAAY-TV in Huntsville explained, the Earth is currently traveling through a field of debris left over from the comet Encke, which causes the Taurid meteor shower. The Taurids, he said, are characteristically made up of larger comet pieces, meaning they burn larger and brighter as they travel throughout the sky at speeds of up to 70,000 miles an hour.
“Last night was a very busy evening as far as fireballs are concerned,” Bill Cooke, the head of the Marshall Space Flight Center’s Meteoroid Environments Office, told Cooke told Barrett that this was “normal activity” and that “nothing unusual” was going on. The first meteors in the northern Taurid shower were witnessed on October 31, Cooke told, and are expected to last through the weekend.
Cooke also told Cofield that since the Arkansas fireball traveled from east to west, it was most likely part of the Taurids. The 6:22pm EST fireball, on the other hand, would not have been part of the meteor shower because it was traveling from west to east. The latter meteor was approximately as bright as a quarter moon and was most likely as big as a baseball or softball, while the other was about as bright as a crescent or quarter moon, he added.
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