A huge fireball streaked across the sky over states extending from Maine to Pennsylvania, according to the American Meteor Society, and many people caught the spectacular sight on camera.
“No, never seen nothing like that before, no,” said Manhattan resident Syd Thompson, who witnessed the impressive sight. “I saw everything started to get bright, and all of a sudden we saw this big ball come right in front of us. Then the whole sky got brighter and brighter and brighter. As it went away, it got all these colors, like a rainbow color. It was absolutely gorgeous.”
Mike Hankey of the American Meteor Society says, based on the video, the asteroid was about the size of a car.
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About 100 tons of dust and debris enter the Earth’s atmosphere every day, but such sightings are quite rare, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. NASA estimates that meteors of such a size chance upon our atmosphere at least once a year, producing huge fireballs, which burn up before reaching the ground.
There were also more than 30 reports of people hearing a booming noise over the Maine/New Hampshire border. The AMS believes the sonic boom means the meteor penetrated deep into the Earth’s atmosphere and probably rained tiny meteorites down on us.
The Maine Mineral and Gem Museum is offering a prize of $20,000 for a kilogram of the meteor, though it is not yet known whether the asteroid pieces made it to the ground.