HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) People looking for evidence of a meteoric fireball that lit up the evening sky across the Northeast may be able to find souvenirs of burnt rock, experts said Tuesday.
The bright lights and loud noises were reported from Virginia to New York Monday evening. Experts said the cause was likely a bolide, a brilliant, exploding meteor.
It may have broken up into a number of small pieces as it entered the earths atmosphere, said Charles Liu, an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Most of the pieces would be smaller grains of sand, just ash, but there may be some larger nuggets the size of … golf balls.
Most of the fireballs fragments probably descended near the New York-Pennsylvania border; several witnesses there reported hearing noises like sonic booms.
Sonic booms mean that its really close. The thing to look for is dark rocks, said Ron Baalke, a software engineer at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.
Often, meteors are hundreds of feet in diameter before the rock burns up in the atmosphere, said Alexander Wolszczan, an astronomy professor at Pennsylvania State University. But large meteors can hit the earth.
The object appeared to be so close in Berkeley County, W.Va., that a deputy went into a field Monday to make sure it did not start a fire, said Kenny Lemaster, of the county Sheriffs Department.
It just looked like a bright flare, he said.
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