An astrological mystery event that lit up the daytime sky Wednesday over parts of the upper and midwest and southern Canada may have been solved.
Scientists say the fireball was likely a rock that had escaped an asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter a million or more years ago. They think the chunk of rock has been swirling near earth for awhile.
“It’s probably been crossing the Earth’s path countless times, until its time was up in 2020,” Robert Lunsford, fireball report coordinator for the American Meteor Society, told Syracuse.com. “The chance of a collision is infinitesimal, but if you do it several million times, it finally happens.”
Apparently the time to finally happen was around noon on Wednesday, December 2. Thousands of people reported seeing a bright streak of light lasting a few seconds, and thousands more heard the deafening boom.
Reports came in from several states, including Ohio, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania,Virginia, as well as parts of Toronto, Ontario and southeast Canada, according to the American Meteor Society.
It’s not unusual for meteors to enter Earth’s atmosphere or make it to the ground, however this one was rare because it happened in a very populated area.
NASA’s analysis of the event shows the meteoroid entered Earth’s atmosphere over upper New York, roughly between Rochester and Syracuse traveling roughly 56,000 mph. Which is slow by meteor standards.
It then broke into pieces roughly 22 miles in the air, which produced the bright flash of light and loud sonic boom.
NASA estimates the meteor was roughly three feet across and weighed about 1,800 pounds when it entered the atmosphere.
NASA reportedly has three meteor-tracking cameras in Ohio and western Pennsylvania that could have precisely tracked this event, but they were off at the time because of the time of day.
“Meteor cameras don’t turn on until night because they’re too sensitive to the sun,” explained Bill Cooke, who tracks meteors for NASA.