Did you see it? Fireball lights up Carolina skies
As many stepped outside Wednesday night to catch a glimpse of four astronauts heading to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket, they got another surprise: a football-sized space rock disintegrating into a fireball over Edgecombe County, visible along the East Coast.Posted — Updated
Based on those reports, especially the brightness of the object, it was estimated to be about the size of a football and weigh about 40 to 45 pounds before it disintegrated about 28 miles above a point southeast of Rocky Mount.
"If you've never seen that before, it's really an event, and you're wondering, 'What in the world was that?'" WRAL meteorologist Elizabeth Gardner said.
In videos, the object brightens significantly, appearing to break up near the horizon. Scientists refer to objects this bright, using the planet Venus as a comparison, as bolides or fireballs. If the space rock survived the fall, which is very unlikely, the pieces that made it to the ground are known as meteorites.
"Thousands of fireballs cross the sky every day, but they're over the ocean or they happen during the day or people just aren't out watching them," Gardner said. "So, it was just an unusual occurrence that people were out to see the rocket launch and they happened to see the fireball."
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