Fireball seen Tuesday night streaking across Arizona sky

WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:

  • Phoenix, Arizona witnessed a streak of light in the sky Tuesday night.
  • The Phoenix city hall even captured the illuminating ball on one of its observation cameras and shared the video to Twitter.
  • Astronomers believe that the bright streak of light seen across the night sky was “almost certainly” a meteor.

In the video posted by the city of Phoenix on Twitter, a large, glowing ball appears in the top-right frame and then fades out in about three seconds. The fireball’s appearance happened around 8:30 p.m. MT.

There’s also a smaller, steady light that can be seen in the lower portion of the frame.

On Tuesday, a total of 110 fireball reports were received by the American Meteor Society from Arizona, Nevada, California, Utah and New Mexico.

“Given the speed and everything, this was almost certainly a meteor rather than a piece of space junk,” said Laurence Garvie, curator of Arizona State University’s Center for Meteorite Studies.

Specifically, according to the American Meteor Society, the meteor was a “bolide”. A bolide is a type of fireball that explodes in a bright final flash.

“This thing wasn’t huge. I’m going to guess about 5 feet across. It broke up quite quickly,” Garvie said.

Nick Moskovitz, an astronomer at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, concurred that even though the final glow of the fireball was immense, the meteor was somewhat small.

Moskovitz described the meteor as “probably larger than a marble and smaller than a human, around a football size.”

He also added that the meteor could have left debris between Flagstaff and Phoenix east of Interstate 17.

Garvie said that there’s no relation between the meteor and the Leonids meteor shower. The Leonids meteor shower happens every year, which peaks on Friday night.

“It’s just coincidental,” Garvie said. Meteors seen during showers are tiny, the size of a grain of sand.

The Leonids meteor shower on Friday is best to view on a moonless sky. However, it’s not an abundant shower. NASA forecasts around 10 meteors an hour and some of them will be faint, which will not be visible.

Astronomers at ASU and the University of Arizona made a list of viewing tips for this Friday’s meteor shower:

  • Meteors occur throughout the sky so you don’t have to focus on one specific area.
  • Shower activity is at its peak after midnight.
  • It is best to see the shower in the darkest spot in your yard away from the glare of street- and house lights.
  • Don’t use binoculars or a telescope as these devices can only limit your view.
  • If you want to spot meteor, be patient. Plan to spend at least an hour outside.

Source: USA Today

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