A baseball sized comet lit up the Southeastern part of the US on Monday night. Observers in Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Kentucky all claimed to see the flash of light from the comet.
Music fans at a Mumford & Sons concert in Pelham, Ala., Monday night also reported seeing a flash of light.
The fireball was 15 times brighter than the planet Venus, and the flash of light rivaled the waxing crescent moon, NASA officials said.
According to NASA officials who tracked the comet, the small fragment of a comet disintegrated 3 seconds after hitting Earth’s atmosphere when it was about 25 miles (40 kilometers) above Woodstock, Alabama.
The meteor was speeding through the air at 76,000 mph (122,310 km/h) when it entered the atmosphere. Watchers heard sonic booms because the cometary debris deeply penetrated the atmosphere, Bill Cooke, head of the Meteoroid Environments Office at Marshall wrote in a blog post.
“It was a meteor, a fireball, and a very bright one,” Cooke. The meteor appeared at 8:18 p.m. local time. “We tracked it down to the altitude of 25 miles, which is very low for a meteor,” he said
Cooke said that the size of the object was somewhere between that of a baseball or bowling ball. In order to make a final determination as to the size, he said further detailed analysis will be necessary.
According to Cooke, the term “fireball” is the correct one to describe this object.
“Fireballs like this occur all the time over the planet,” Cooke told SPACE.com via email. “However, our cameras in the Southeast pick up a bright fireball like this every month or so. We detected an even brighter event over Tennessee two weeks back.”
Comet over Southeastern Sky
Monday night, at 8:18 PM Central Time, a baseball size fragment of a comet entered Earth’s atmosphere above Alabama, moving southwest at a speed of 76,000 miles per hour.