Fascinating Meteor over Utah
Meteor turns night into day in Utah
A fast-moving meteor lit up the night skies over most of Utah just after midnight Wednesday. Scientists are calling it a "remarkable midnight fireball." The source of all the excitement was basically a rock, falling from space.
"I'm currently driving, but I just saw a giant blue flash in the sky, and it came down into the city," a caller from Ogden said. A caller in Bountiful told dispatchers, "It flashed from the west, and it lit up the whole freakin' neighborhood." "I mean this thing lit up the sky, literally. It was like daylight." said Patrick Wiggins, NASA Solar Ambassador. Many security cameras filmed the event. You can see for yourself in the video compilation embedded above.
Professor David Kieda is chair of the University of Utah's astronomy department. He said the energy of the meteor coming into Earth's atmosphere was so powerful it has to be measured in Terawatts. "It's almost like the consumption of the United States all at once. It was a fraction of a second," Kieda said.
When a meteor enters the atmosphere, it gives off a lot of heat and light. Folks at the Clark Planetarium say this rock was big - between the size of a microwave and washer-dryer unit.
At exactly 12:07, people from all over the western United States watched as the bolide meteor crashed into Earth's atmosphere. In some areas, the flash of light was so bright it caused light-sensor street lamps to shut off. Clark Planetarium Director Seth Jarvis said the stony meteorite was probably traveling 80,000 miles an hour when it hit our atmosphere. He said it happened 100 miles up in the air; so despite the brightness, Utah was never in any danger.
"These collisions can do damage, but they are extremely rare; and literally once in a century do you observe something that's actually doing damage," he said.
You can find more information on shooting stars and meteors here.