A few people in the US witnessed a bright fireball created by a meteor that streaked across the sky recently. The eyewitnesses said the space rock exploded mid-air and broke apart into tiny fragments.
The American Meteor Society reported that the fireball event happened on April 20 at around 10:30 pm MDT, or April 21 at 12:30 am EDT. Although most of the eyewitness reports regarding the fireball event came from the stated of Idaho, the incident was also spotted by individuals from Washington and Oregon.
Witnessing A Fireball Event
Based on the eyewitness reports, the brightness or magnitude of the fireball varied. While some eyewitnesses stated that the fireball had a magnitude of -20 to -14, others stated that it ranged from -7 to -5. The difference in magnitude may have been caused by the sky conditions in the area where they spotted the meteor. The presence of clouds or haze in the region might have affected the brightness of the fireball.
The Meteor's Explosion And Fragmentation
As the meteor was streaking across the sky, some eyewitnesses noted that it produced a bright glow that lasted for a couple of seconds. According to some eyewitnesses, the object had a minor explosion before breaking off into several fragments. "It popped, giving off a bit of a bright light and some little fragmentation before it was all gone," an eyewitness named Kisa J. from Coeur d' Alene, Idaho, stated in her report.
Classifying A Bolide
Based on the descriptions submitted by the eyewitnesses, it is possible that the fireball event was caused by a bolide. Unlike ordinary fireball events, bolides are caused by meteors that are large enough to cause an explosion in the sky shortly after entering the Earth's atmosphere. The explosion is usually followed by fragmentation. In some cases, pieces of the meteor reach the ground instead of disintegrating mid-air.
"A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus as seen in the morning or evening sky," the American Meteor Society explained. "A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation."