There are so far over 400 reports regarding a fireball that streaked through the East Coast last Tuesday night. The light illuminated the night sky from South Carolina to Vermont.
In the late hours of April 16, hundreds of people witnessed a massive fireball that lit up the sky in 12 states. According to the American Meteor Society, most of the reports they received came from Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland, but they also received reports from as far as South Carolina and Vermont. In fact, the fireball was so bright that the lightning detector on NASA and NOAA’s weather satellite was triggered.
Evidently, the fireball traveled from north to south, and ended its trajectory in the Atlantic ocean. Fortunately, because of its brightness, many people were able to capture images and videos of the moment that it lit up the sky in their respective areas.
Many of the reports described the fireball to be green, and according to AMS, meteors glow different colors depending on its chemical composition. For instance, a meteor that has nitrogen and oxygen will burn red, while a meteor with calcium will burn purple, and a meteor with magnesium will burn blue-white. In the case of the green fireball, it is typically nickel that burns green.
Similarly, the color of a fireball may also vary depending on its velocity, with slower meteors burning red or orange, and faster meteors burning blue. That said, determining a fireball based on the color it emits is rather complex.
According to AMS, fireballs are meteors that appear brighter than the planet Venus. Thousands of fireball level meteors enter the Earth’s atmosphere every day, but many of them go unnoticed because of the brightness of the day, or because they occur in areas where there are not a lot of people.
The only fireballs that are observed by day are those that burn with a magnitude brighter than -6, and are in a part of the sky that is away from the sun.