Fireball lights up night sky over eastern U.S

Reuters News
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Posted: Sep 15, 2014 1:16 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A blazing meteor lit up the night sky like fireworks across a dozen eastern U.S. states and prompted almost 160 sighting reports, the American Meteor Society said on Monday.

The meteor entered the Earth's atmosphere over central Pennsylvania late on Sunday and wowed observers from Virginia to Massachusetts in a "random fireball event," society spokesman Mike Hankey said.

Most of those who reported the fireball on the American Meteor Society website said it began as a brilliant white color and then turned yellow, green and orange.

A witness in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, said the meteor "traveled like a bottle rocket from the clouds to the ground. The eastern sky it lit up and it went off like a firework and was gone."

Other observers said the fireball looked like a plane plummeting to the ground or that it pulsed and appeared out of nowhere.

A fireball is a meteor that is brighter than the planet Venus, and several thousand of them take place daily. The great majority take place over oceans or uninhabited areas, and many are masked by daylight, according to the society website.

The meteor over the U.S. East Coast came a day after a fireball over the Pacific Northwest drew almost 200 comments on the website.

(Reporting by John Clarke; Editing by Doina Chiacu)