Bright fireball meteor burns up over central Alabama

Astrophotographer Cody Limber sent in a photo of some early Perseid meteors that he caught from his deck on Orcas Island in Washington. The shot combines images taken over the course of four days in August 2013. (Cody Limber)

Monday night, residents of central Alabama were witness to something that may have brought back thoughts of what happened in Chelyabinsk, Russia from mid-February, as an incredibly bright meteor burned up in the skies over their heads.

Reports came in to the American Meteor Society, and piecing all the accounts together, they found that the fireball streaked across the sky, headed northeast to southwest across Birmingham, Alabama, traveling at roughly 120,000 km/h.

Bill Cook, who works at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, in Huntsville, AB, caught the meteor on one of the cameras there (at the end of the 5 seconds, towards the bottom left):

If you've seen this video going around the web...

... apparently, that's not from last night, but is instead from Argentina, back in April, when concert-goes caught a bolide burning up in the sky behind the stage (Thanks to Brandon Sullivan for pointing this out). It's possible that it's actually legitimate, but you can see the same speaker-towers, the same colour glow of the stage monitors, and both videos even show the exact same pattern of the meteor flaring exceptionally bright, then flaring twice more before it completely burns out.

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There's plenty of videos of meteors, fireballs and bolides on the web, and sometimes it's not too easy to tell them apart. However, matching up a specific meteor sighting with any true videos of the event is fairly important. By examining these kinds of videos, meteor experts can tell what type of rock it was, what kind of minerals it might have contained, and this all gives scientists more clues about the early days of our solar system.

If anyone besides the NASA black and white cameras did capture footage of this Alabama fireball, it would be great to see what it actually looked like.

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