In a dazzling display that captivated sky gazers across the Northeastern United States, a brilliant fireball streaked across the Ohio skies last night at around 8 PM EST.
The celestial spectacle, witnessed by thousands, has sparked intrigue and excitement, with over 50 reports flooding the American Meteor Society’s Fireball Reports page from various states and provinces, including Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Ontario, and Pennsylvania.
While not officially confirmed, there is speculation that the vibrant fireball may have been a celestial participant in the annual Leonid Meteor Shower. This meteor shower occurs each November as Earth traverses the debris field left behind by the comet 55P/Tempel-Tuttle.
About the Leonid Meteor Shower
Measuring roughly 2.24 miles across, about the size of Manhattan, the comet orbits the sun every 33 years, leaving a trail of dust and rocks in its cosmic wake. As our planet intersects this debris trail during its orbit, the particles enter Earth’s atmosphere, creating breathtaking streaks of light commonly referred to as “shooting stars.”
While this weekend’s meteor shower is a more typical event, it’s worth noting that approximately every 33 years, the Leonids escalate into a “meteor storm,” with at least 1,000 meteors per hour gracing the night sky.
The last notable Leonid meteor storm occurred in 2002, and the next surge in activity is expected around 2035. However, the most prolific Leonid storm may not grace our skies until 2099, according to the American Meteor Society.
Witnesses from different locations provided vivid descriptions of the fireball:
Danny from Jefferson, OH, exclaimed, “It was super bright and caught my vision right away. I observed it flying diagonally downward, breaking into pieces, and then it was gone in a matter of seconds.”
Heather from Groton, NY, marveled, “The front was like a blue-green star, and the tail was orange. I’ve never seen anything like it!”
Wes from Westerville, OH, shared his awe, stating, “Never seen anything like it, just fall that bright and at that angle.”
The American Meteor Society will review all of the reports submitted regarding the event and announce more specific information about whether or not the fireball was in fact a meteor. For more info, or to submit a report if you also witnessed the fireball, please visit amsmeteors.org.
Featured image from 2009 Leonid Meteor shower, photo by Ed Sweeney (CC-BY-2.0).