Here's something that doesn't happen too often: just in the span of three days, the American Meteor Society has received reports of three massive fireballs streaking across the sky in the Eastern United States, and it's possible that a fourth one was spotted late Saturday night as well.
Only five days after an RCMP dashboard camera recorded an incredibly bright fireball over northern Alberta, reports came in on Thursday, Sept. 26, of a large fireball lighting up the morning sky over central Indiana, passing almost directly over Indianapolis. The American Meteor Society (AMS) says it received over 700 accounts, ranging from Ohio to Iowa and from Tennessee into Michigan and Wisconsin.
The very next day, just to the east, another fireball streaked through the sky over Columbus, Ohio, at around 11:30 p.m. ET, and was reported by over 1,000 people, quickly becoming one of the top reported events in AMS history. Currently, the record for reports is apparently held by the bright green fireball that was spotted by witnesses all along the U.S. East Coast back in late March, but this meteor from Thursday night may take the second spot on the list.
This one was actually caught on video by two different cameras, showing how the fireball flared to incredible intensity while breaking up:
Then, on Saturday around 7:30 p.m., the trio was rounded out by another fireball that burned up in the sky over northern Alabama and Georgia, as witnesses all across the southeast U.S. and even as far east as Maryland reported seeing it track west to east from Huntsville to Atlanta before winking out.
The AMS hasn't mentioned anything as of yet, but both its site and the Lunar Meteorite Hunters blog have reports that another bright meteor was spotted by witnesses across the Northeast U.S. and southern Quebec, at around 9:45 p.m. Saturday night.
The AMS is saying that the past month has been a busy one for fireballs over the United States, with Saturday evening's fireball being the 15th significant event they've recorded so far. A significant event is one with 25 or more reports, so if the 9:45 p.m. fireball receives more, it may be come number 16 for the month.
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Does this mean that we're being bombarded? Should we worry? No, probably not.
It's true that's a fair number of fireballs, but the reason that we're seeing more of them probably has more to do with luck and more people looking up. According to the AMS, several thousand fireballs burn up in our atmosphere every day. Also, the number of bits of rock that slam into our atmosphere is just a tiny amount compared to what's floating around in our local space, so the real surprise is that we don't see more of these fireballs than we already do. The actual size of space is on our side for that, though.
If you spotted any of these fireballs or any others, for that matter, feel free to comment below or message me on Twitter. You can also report a meteor or fireball sighting to the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada by clicking this link. The American Meteor Society takes reports from both Canada and the United States (click here).
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