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Sightings of a huge fireball were reported in the US

Published Jun 29th, 2020 4:11PM EDT
fireball video
Image: Reid Wiseman/NASA

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  • A massive fireball appeared in the skies over several southern US states in the early morning hours of June 19th.
  • Eyewitnesses report seeing a huge streak following by a bright flash and then a boom.
  • It’s unclear if any pieces of the space rock made it to Earth.

If you’re a resident of Kansas, Missouri, Texas, Arkansas, or Oklahoma and happened to be hanging around outside in the early morning hours of June 19th, you may have been treated to a truly breathtaking skywatching event. A large fireball appeared in the skies and was visible across several states. Scientists have been pulling together reports from across the region and now we have some stunning video of the vent to feast our eyes on.

The American Meteorological Society, which tracks sightings of objects in the skies all across the country, has compiled nearly two dozen reports from this one event. As we can see from the video, if you were outside at the time it would have been very hard to miss.

The fireball exploded in the sky, which is not uncommon for space rocks as they enter our atmosphere. The intense pressure, friction, and heat generated as the object nears Earth is often enough to cause the rocks to quite literally explode.

In this case, we can see the fireball streaking across the sky before it abruptly flashes. That’s the big boom, and the space rock likely broke into many smaller pieces. Some of those chunks may have even survived the trip and impacted the Earth, though there have not been any reports of damage or injuries caused by the event.

Eyewitnesses reported hearing things associated with the fireball, including a boom like a “cannon,” which is a fair description of a fireball detonating in the skies above.

One witness reported what he saw to the AMS:

I went out to see the lighting of storms coming into wichita from the north west. After a flash of lighting the sky turn a greenish blue color and lite up the sky. I saw the fireball come over my house from the south heading north. it burned up half in the sky after passing over my home. I never seen a meteor light up the sky before. Reminded me of when a transformer blew but lighting up the whole sky. lite the outside up some as well. It look like it was on a even path also not real high up.

Meteorite hunters are surely excited by the event, as finding chunks of space rock that make it to Earth’s surface can mean big bucks. Still, there’s no guarantee that any pieces of the rock survived entry into the atmosphere, so searching for the possible remnants can be a serious challenge.