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NASA says meteor fireball likely responsible for last night's east coast light show

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meteor (wikimedia) 2
meteor (wikimedia) 2

NASA has announced this week that a bright flash observed over the East Coast of the US Friday night was likely a meteor. According to USA Today, the American Meteor Society received more than 350 reports of a possible meteor last night, with sightings ranging from Florida to New England. The nature of the flash remained unclear until later Friday, when Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environmental Office confirmed that it appeared to be a "single meteor event."

"we're dealing with something as bright as the full moon."

As the Associated Press reports, experts believe the flash was bright enough to be classified as a fireball. "Judging from the brightness, we're dealing with something as bright as the full moon," Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office said. "We basically have (had) a boulder enter the atmosphere over the northeast." Robert Lunsford, a fireball coordinator at the American Meteor Society, told USA Today that the event "looked like a super bright shooting star," and that his organization received reports describing "every color of the rainbow."

Derrick Pitts, an astronomer at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, added that the meteor was likely the size of a volleyball, telling the AP that it likely fell relatively far into the Earth's atmosphere. Pitts added that there's no way to be absolutely certain that it was a meteor "unless it actually fell to the ground and we could actually track the trajectory," though he said reports are "absolutely consistent" with a meteor's behavior.