By Brian Lada, AccuWeather meteorologist and staff writer
April 18, 2019, 5:18:26 AM EDT
A fireball blazed over the mid-Atlantic on Tuesday night with hundreds of people witnessing the meteor as it lit up the night sky.
A fireball is an incredibly bright meteor that illuminates the entire sky as it burns up in Earth’s atmosphere. Tuesday night’s fireball lasted much longer than a typical shooting star, being visible for nearly 10 seconds, according to videos showing the phenomenon.
A fireball over College Park, Maryland, on the night of Tuesday, April 16, 2019. (Image/Mike Hankey)
Despite burning up near the coast of southern New Jersey, the fireball was visible from hundreds of miles away. Many of the reports on the American Meteor Society’s (AMS) fireball event page came out of the Washington, D.C. area, but some said they spotted it as far south as South Carolina and as far north as Vermont.
The light from the meteor was so intense that the lightning detector on the GOES-16 weather satellite detected the fireball.
Don’t worry, if you live along the East Coast and saw a bright blue/green light streaking across the sky last night; you’re not crazy. #GOESEast‘s Geostationary Lightning Mapper saw the #meteor too! More imagery: https://t.co/1vd48CRq4K pic.twitter.com/Ry0Ntpz2EE
— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) April 17, 2019
People reported that the fireball glowed blue and green in color, with one person even observing that an explosion could be heard as it blazed overhead.
The color a meteor glows as it burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere is related to its chemical composition. Different chemicals and elements will emit different colors.
Fireballs like the one spotted on Tuesday night occur on a nightly basis in different parts of the world, but many go unreported.
“Several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day. Most of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight,” the AMS explained on its page.
If you witness a fireball, you can submit a report on the AMS fireball report page.