People were treated to the magnificent view of an extremely bright fireball over SouthEast Alabama nighttime sky on Aug. 16 at 1:19 a.m. EDT.
The fireball was also detected by all six NASA meteor cameras. The NASA Meteor Watch described the fireball to be at least 40 times as bright as the full moon. The agency said a small asteroid of about 6 feet in diameter caused the fireball.
An update from Dr. Bill Cooke from NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center states that the meteor was first spotted at an altitude of 58 miles above Turkeytown, Alabama, northeast of Gadsden. It was moving west of north at 53,700 miles per hour, exploding into fragments at about 18 miles above the small town of Grove Oak.
"We are still assessing the probability of the fireball producing meteorites on the ground - whether it did or not, it was an extremely bright event, seen through partly cloudy skies and triggering every camera and sensor operated by the Meteoroid Environment Office in the region," NASA Meteor Watch wrote on Facebook.
Eyewitnesses Saw Fireball Over Alabama
The American Meteorological Society has received numerous reports about the fireball from many eyewitnesses who saw it burning across the sky. Its official website has a list of dozens of pending fireball reports coming from witnesses in Georgia, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
Separate videos from Dan Kent, taken with his ring doorbell camera, and from Barry Pender showed a circular glimmering fire streaking across the sky.
What Is A Fireball
The American Meteor Society explained that a fireball is a term used to describe an extremely luminous meteor. The latter is an asteroid that burns and vaporizes when it enters the Earth's atmosphere.
Meteors are commonly referred to as shooting stars. Interestingly, Perseid meteor shower happened over the weekend. It peaked on the nights of Aug. 11 to 12 and Aug. 12 to 13.
Fireballs are generally brighter than the planet Venus when the planet is seen in the morning or the evening sky. A fireball, which leaves a bright terminal flash at its end after exploding, is called the bolide. This type of fireballs has often visible fragmentation.
If a meteor, on the other hand, survives and able to pierce through the atmosphere unscathed, landing on the ground, it is called a meteorite.
The American Meteorological Society encourages individual reports about fireballs. All accounts submitted to the website are saved for statistical study purposes.