An eyewitness was able to capture on film the moment when a small asteroid entered Earth's atmosphere and turned into a bright fireball. According to reports, the fireball exploded mid-air over several states across the United States.
The latest fireball incident in the U.S. was reported by the American Meteor Society (AMS). According to the organization, they received a total of 55 reports from different eyewitnesses.
Latest Fireball Event
Based on AMS' reports, the fireball event happened on May 14 at 12:40 a.m. EDT. It was spotted by multiple eyewitnesses from Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Georgia. Most eyewitnesses indicated that the fireball appeared in the sky for an average of 3.5 seconds. Others, however, noted that the fiery object remained in the air for up to 7.5 seconds.
According to the reports, the fireball's magnitude or overall brightness ranged from -5 to -25. This means that for most of the eyewitnesses, the object appeared brighter than the planet Venus.
Fireball's Explosion and Fragmentation
An eyewitness named Joseph G. from Lakeland, Florida, was able to capture the moment when the fireball appeared in the sky. In a video he submitted to the AMS, the fireball can be seen as it produced a bright flash.
Several eyewitnesses noted that they saw the fireball explode and break apart in the sky. One of them noted that the object fragmented into two visible pieces, while others stated that they heard a loud booming sound after the fireball produced a bright flash.
Classifying a Bolide
Based on the video and the reports by eyewitnesses, the small asteroid that hit Earth and turned into a meteor fireball was most likely a bolide. According to the organization, a bolide is a type of fireball that produces fragments after a mid-air explosion.
"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 AMS explained in a statement. "A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation."