[meteorite-list] Meteor Shower Lights Northeast Sky
From: Ron Baalke <baalke_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Thu Apr 22 09:43:34 2004
Meteor Shower Lights Northeast Sky
By Martha Raffaele
July 24, 2001
POTTSVILLE, Pa. -- James Mennig's story of what he saw in the sky was so
incredible his own mother didn't believe him.
To him, the bright lights looked like a plane engulfed in flames. But
authorities said it was likely a meteor shower or a different type of
natural phenomenon known as a fireball or "bolide."
"It was about the size of that Jeep Cherokee," the 22-year-old Pottsville
resident said Monday evening, pointing to a parked vehicle.
Similar sightings were reported throughout the Northeast, with people from
Virginia to New York saying they saw lights in the sky and heard loud
"This is a natural event, which is called a bolide or a fireball. It is
similar to the shooting stars you see sporadically at night in its
appearance, but as far as the physical nature of this object is concerned
it's quite different from the periodic meteor showers we get," U.S. Naval
Observatory spokesman Geoff Chester said.
"This is a random piece of rock that happened to have the misfortune of
being in the same part of space occupied by the Earth at the same time," he
said. "In this particular case, the Earth won."
In Buffalo, N.Y., National Weather Service observers received reports of a
bright meteor in western and southern New York state.
"We got our first call at about 6:25," meteorologist Dave Sage said. "Then
the calls just started coming in."
In Wellsboro, a town in the northern Pennsylvania mountains, Patrick Kane
was on a porch with friends about 6:30 p.m. when they saw a bright yellow
streak move rapidly across the sky. It was trailed by a long plume of white
Less than a minute after the fireball was gone, a loud boom shook the
windows, Kane said.
"It almost sounded like when you're at the fireworks and they send out the
one to just kind of make noise," he said.
At McGuire Air Force Base in Wrightstown, N.J., Airman Sharon Carpenter was
on break around 6 p.m. in the air traffic control tower when she looked up
and saw an orange streak north of the base. In less than a second, the
westbound streak was gone, seen by no other air traffic or radar controllers
in the tower.
"I spent the rest of the night trying to prove to them that I wasn't going
crazy," Carpenter said.
Alexander Wolszczan, an astronomy professor at Pennsylvania State
University, said that the shaking that people felt could have resulted from
a sound wave produced by a meteor breaking apart in the atmosphere.
Normally, a meteor shower is a silent event, he said, but large meteors can
create concussive sound waves or even hit the earth. Often, meteors are
hundreds of feet in diameter before the rock burns up in the atmosphere, he
Received on Tue 24 Jul 2001 12:03:37 PM PDT