VIDEO COURTESY: ELI SHANK
(WOWK) — Hundreds of people saw a meteor streak across the skies of our region on Thursday, Dec. 1. NASA has crunched the numbers and issued a report from their Meteor Watch page telling us how fast, how high, how big and what happened to that glowing ball of flame.
The bright green streak across the sky was seen for as much as ten seconds which is a rarity for most meteors. According to NASA the meteor was likely only 5 inches in diameter, which is approximately right between the diameter of a volleyball and softball. NASA calculates the space rock weighed about 3 pounds before it disintegrated.
The reason for the bright flare is that this piece of space rock was crashing into our atmosphere at about 34,500 miles per hour! According to a NASA blog, “That bright streak is not actually the rock, but rather the glowing hot air as the hot rock zips through the atmosphere.”
NASA has a network of cameras pointed at the sky to monitor meteors across America. Three cameras in our region captured the streaking fireball, and along with other videos and reports, scientists can piece together the precise movement of the meteor.
As for location, NASA says the meteor was first seen over the town of Morganville, Ohio and was about 52 miles above the ground. The fireball then soared east before disintegrating into little bits that would have been consumed by the fire about 19 miles high above the town of Ringgold, West Virginia.
If you’re wondering if anything hit the ground, NASA says it is likely that all of the meteor was consumed in the atmosphere. Meteor remnants that hit the ground are called meteorites. NASA does use Doppler weather radar products to look for signatures of falling meteoric dust or debris and says they found no such signature.
This meteor is not believed to have been a part of the Geminid meteor showers which pick up in intensity and number later in the month.
This was one of the most reported sightings of a meteor this year according to the American Meteor Society. More than 1100 sightings were logged on their website and 13 News received dozens of comments on our Facebook page from other people who witnessed the event. Even though the location was immediately over Ohio and West Virginia, the meteor was seen by our viewers in Kentucky and by people in several other states from central Michigan to South Carolina and from Indiana to eastern Virginia.