Residents in Michigan saw a fireball shooting star on Tuesday night, January 16, a meteor that deposited fragments in the state, The Detroit News reports.
Some of the fragments that hit the ground, known as meteorites, were found by amateur observers and meteorite hunters. They’re being sent to centers like Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, which can analyze them and confirm that they’re actually space rocks.
But the fireball was definitely a meteor coming to Earth, the Washington Post noted. NASA had actually confirmed the validity of the reports.
“It was definitely a meteor,” the paper quoted Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, as saying.
The fireball, he said, was caused by a small asteroid about one to two yards in diameter, that entered the Earth’s atmosphere near New Haven, Michigan. It was said to be moving at about 28,000 mph, and heated up when it entered the atmosphere. That friction caused it to begin to melt away and produced the bright light.
A report in the Detroit Free Press said the meteor’s entry also caused houses to shake at several locations in Michigan, but the National Weather Service, tweeting right after initial reports came in, held off on any final determination or judgment:
After reviewing several observational datasets, the NWS can confirm the flash and boom was NOT thunder or lightning, but instead a likely meteor. We continue to monitor feeds from astronomical agencies for official confirmation of a meteor. #miwx
— NWS Detroit (@NWSDetroit) January 17, 2018
A few definitions from NASA:
- Meteoroid: the object as it travels through space
- Meteor: the object that creates the glow for a few seconds in the atmosphere
- Meteorite: the fragments of the object that fall to Earth’s surface