Meteor turns midnight into daylight sky - Video
A streaking fireball briefly illuminated parts of the Utah sky to daylight-level conditions, surveillance footage shows.
The video from outside security cameras at the University of Utah's Milford observatory shows a blinding flash of light around 12:07 am yesterday, followed by clear images of the object streaking away.
"It looks like a shooting star on steroids," said Seth Jarvis, director of the Clark Planetarium in Salt Lake City.
Although it's too early to say definitively how large the object was and how fast it was going, Jarvis estimated that it was about the size of an oven and was traveling at about 80,000 mph. It broke through the Earth's atmosphere and was probably around 100 miles above the ground when it became visible, he said.
It almost certainly broke up before it reached the ground, he said.
Patrick Wiggins, a volunteer with NASA's ambassador program, was sitting in his home observatory near Tooele when he saw the bright flash through his closed curtains. Several minutes later, he said he heard a sonic boom.
"It was like a low rumble, like thunder," he said.
Utah scientists on Wednesday said it's likely a meteor associated with the annual Leonid meteor shower.
Dave Kieda, chairman of the school's department of physics and astronomy, said meteor sightings aren't uncommon, but to see one this large — and to get much of it on tape — is unusual.
"These things are relics of the formation of the solar system. The more we find, see and study, the more we can say about that," Scotti said.
The near-ubiquity of security cameras and video cameras increases the odds that they'll be caught on tape. Using triangulation from different camera angles can help scientists map the trajectory path of these objects and increase the likelihood that bits of the space rocks can be recovered and analyzed, he said.
Scientists with expertise in meteors will use the university's footage to help estimate its size and trajectory.
"We just got lucky and had a surveillance camera pointed in the right direction," said Wayne Springer, an associate professor of physics and astronomy. Springer has been working at the university's new observatory, which is perched on Frisco Peak, about 175 miles south of Salt Lake City.
After hearing news reports about the meteor Wednesday morning, Springer cued up the surveillance tape.
"And lo and behold there it was, this big flash of light," he said.
- 1 Heading for America? Prepare for the longest US immigration queues ever
- 2 Notes from a small island: Is Sealand an independent 'micronation' or an illegal fortress?
- 3 You thought Ryanair's attendants had it bad? Wait 'til you hear about their pilots
- 4 'Swivel-gate': David Cameron goes to war with the press over 'swivel-eyed loons' slur
- 5 It’s official: thanks to Stephen Hawking's Israel boycott, anti-Semitism is no more
BMF is the UK’s biggest and best loved outdoor fitness classes
Find out what The Independent's resident travel expert has to say about one of the most beautiful small cities in the world
Win anything from gadgets to five-star holidays on our competitions and offers page.
Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: This is a senior appointment with huge potent...
£28000 - £31500 per annum + benefits: Randstad Education Newcastle: Permanent ...
£50000 - £58000 per annum + Benefits and Bonus: Progressive Recruitment: SAP F...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + BENS: Progressive Recruitment: Drupal Developer A ...