Hundreds of Texas residents have reported seeing a meteor streaking across Saturday night sky. NASA has also confirmed the incident and is investigating the details.
Dr. Bill Cooke, lead for NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office told reporters in a conference call Sunday, “This was definitely what we call a fireball, which by definition is a meteor brighter than the planet Venus. This event was so bright that it was picked up on a NASA meteor camera in the mountains of New Mexico over 500 miles away, which makes it extremely unusual. This was a very bright event.”
Cooke further added that based on data from NASA’s camera the meteor could be at least four feet wide, weighed 4000 pounds and appeared five times brighter than the full moon.
The American Meteor Society reported that it has received more than 200 reports from residents of different parts of Lone Star State at almost the same time-9:45 p.m. ET.
News about the flash fleeting across the sky rapidly went viral on the social media sites. One You Tube user has captured the scene with his camera and has posted it online also. It is unclear if any pieces of the suspected meteor made its way to the Earth.
Cooke said that investigators are looking at things like weather radar data to confirm if it indeed was a meteor.
According to a report by the Maverick County Sheriff’s Department, the ground shook when the meteor hit the ground.
When a piece of comet or asteroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere, friction causes it to burn and if the piece is big, often break apart violently in an explosion.
The fireball which lit up the Saturday night could have been from the North Taurid meteor shower and has been known to produce bright fireball.
“We’re going to have to wait until we get more data to discriminate between the two of them,” Cooke said.
A NASA camera located near Mayhill, New Mexico captured an image of a brief, bright flash around 8:40 p.m. Central Time. Another camera located in Las Cruces, New Mexico detected a change in the sky’s brightness though it did not capture the event.