A meteor entering the Earth’s atmosphere exploded in Michigan’s sky overnight in a spectacle that briefly illuminated the city of Detroit. The US Geological Survey confirmed the meteor had entered the atmosphere about 5 miles from New Haven, Michigan (about 36 miles north of The Motor City), and registered a force equivalent to a magnitude 2.0 earthquake. Videos posted across social media networks showed a bright spot streaking across the sky before exploding, flooding the darkness with light. Social media users who witnessed the event said the flash of light was followed by loud booms several minutes later.
NASA officials confirmed to The Detroit News that its meteor camera caught the event at 8:08pm at Oberlin College in Ohio (see below). NASA is currently analyzing the meteor’s data, and said the explosion was a “huge event” and rare for Michigan. Bill Cooke from NASA’s meteoroid environment office in Alabama told The Detroit News he estimates the meteor was about one or two yards across, weighed more than one metric ton and traveled between 40,000 to 50,000 miles to get to Earth.
NASA defines meteors (or shooting stars) as rocks or debris in space that fall through a planet’s atmosphere. The bright trail of light emitted is caused by friction with the atmosphere. Meteorites are the surviving pieces that make it to the ground. NASA says it’s tracking the trajectory of the meteor to see if any meteorites landed on Earth.
Update January 17th, 10:44am ET: Removed a tweet showing an older meteor.