Pittsburgh: Meteor lights up night sky in Pennsylvania
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The suspected meteor or bolide passed over the US east coast on Sunday morning where it erupted into a spectacular fireball. Hundreds of eyewitnesses flooded social media with reports of a green or blue flash just after midnight. KDKA reporter Jessica Guay, who saw the fireball over Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, initially mistook it for lightning.
She tweeted: “I saw the sky light up right before 12.30am and I assumed it was lightning!
“It was so bright. I had no idea it was a meteor.”
In another tweet, she said the fireball’s flash hit around 12.26am local time and was bright blue.
The American Meteor Society has so far received more than 260 reports of the fireball from along the East Coast and further inland.
The meteor was seen as far west as Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, as well as in Montreal and Toronto in Canada.
When small meteors crash into the atmosphere, the force of entry heats the objects to scorching temperatures.
Most of these objects are no bigger than grains of sand and constantly barrage our atmosphere.
Bigger meteors will sometimes explode into bright fireballs when the pressure of air in front of them seeps into their cracks and pores.
Jay Melosh, a professor of planetary sciences at Purdue University, explained: “There’s a big gradient between high-pressure air in front of the meteor and the vacuum of air behind it.
“If the air can move through the passages in the meteorite, it can easily get inside and blow off pieces.”
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One such fireball exploded over the Caribbean last week, startling people in Cuba, Jamaica and Florida.
Another fireball passed over the UK on the weekend when a space rock entered the skies above the Bristol Channel.
Scientists have urged people in the West Country to be on the lookout for possible meteorite fragments.
Sunday’s meteor was caught on video thanks to the increasingly popular doorbell camera.
One video shared by a man named Jeffrey shows the meteor streaking across the sky before flashing multiple times and fading out of sight.
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Jeffrey tweeted: “Just a meteor exploding over Pittsburgh tonight. No big deal.”
One person responded to the video saying they saw it west of Washington DC in the state of Virginia.
They likened the phenomenon to an “arcing transformer, just more focused to a point”.
Another person said: “I saw a green light exactly like this between 12:23-12:26am in central NJ area near Princeton!!! I guess I saw my first meteor!”
And a third person said: “This was so bright near Harrisburg PA I thought someone was shining a flashlight in my window.
“Reports of a large boom right after as well here in south central PA but I didn’t hear that.”
According to the US space agency NASA, more than 100 tonnes of space dust and debris pelts our planet on a daily basis.
All of this debris burns up before reaching the ground.
NASA said: “Space rocks smaller than about 25m (about 82ft) will most likely burn up as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere and cause little or no damage.”
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