SAN DIEGO – San Diegans spotted a bright and colorful fireball moving rapidly across the night sky on Saturday evening.
The trail of light, spotted just after 8:45 p.m., was widely reported in Southern California, with locals seeing the fireball in all of San Diego, Orange and Los Angeles counties. Some sightings have come as far east as Las Vegas.
According to Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society, fireballs – which are larger and brighter than normal meteors – are very common, with hundreds of sightings around the world every day. But clear skies, warm temperatures, densely populated areas, and the timing of a weekend evening likely all contributed to why the streak was seen so well over large areas.
At 10:30 a.m. Sunday, AMS, which is collecting reports from volunteer contributors around the world to compile information on the meteors, 87 people had officially reported the streak. Dozens, if not hundreds, of others have said on social media that they have spotted the fireball.
It occurs during a period of October and November that will have its fair share of meteor showers, Lunsford said. “Meteor showers producing fireballs such as Taurids are active,” he explained via email.
So what are the chances of Saturday’s meteor hitting the Earth’s surface?
“Looking at the computer-generated trajectory from there, it’s possible that this fireball is a member of the Taurid shower,” he continued. “If so, there is almost a zero percent chance that this object will reach the ground because the comet-based material that makes up taurid meteors is just too brittle to survive their plunge into the atmosphere. “
If a meteor hits Earth, it becomes a meteorite – but as Lunsford said, that would be unlikely if Saturday’s footage came from a Taurid.
Many people who responded online said they saw brilliant colors, including green and red when they saw the fireball cross the sky. Lunsford said there is a simple explanation: “These are caused by the elemental content of the meteor such as sodium, calcium, magnesium and iron.”
You can view a map of the areas where residents reported seeing the fireball and find out more about the American Meteor Society on their website.
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