Did you see them? Trio of fireballs streak across mid-Atlantic skies

Posted November 24, 2021

A trio fireballs streaked through the skies above Virginia, Pennsylvania and off the coast of New England states in three separate events Tuesday night.

Judging from descriptions and videos in initial reports, each was likely a meteor. A bit of debris broken off from a passing asteroid.

The US Combined Force Space Component Command at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California is monitoring the decaying orbits of four Starlink communications satellites launched early last year, though these are not expected to reenter the atmosphere for several days.

Above Richmond, VA

Seen around 10:30 p.m. by observers from South Carolina to New York City area, this fireball flew south over the Richmond area. Witnesses traveling south on I-95 described traffic slowing as the meteor brightened 50 miles above central Virginia.

Fireball near of Richmond, VA, recorded by a dashboard camera on I-81 north near Kingsport, TN (video courtesy AMS/Scannerfood)

The meteor disintegrated in a flash a few seconds later about 20 miles above the area between Petersburg and Richmond. Based on initial trajectories calculated from reports to the American Meteor Society, any parts of the meteor that survived to the ground, then called a meteorite, would end up in Dinwiddie County.

However, meteors usually vaporize as they race through the atmosphere. Finding the rare piece that makes it to the ground is very rare.

West of Scranton, PA

Shortly after 8 p.m., a fireball traveling northward was seen from Virginia to upstate New York and as far west as Ohio.

Witnesses described a bright trail that changed colors, and fragmented as it fell from about 50 miles above the Pocono Mountains.

Fireball near of Scranton, PA, recorded by a security camera 100 miles to the west (video courtesy AMS/Jeffrey Borck)

Off the New England coast

Around 6:30 p.m., about 2 hours after sunset, observers clustered around Boston reported seeing a fireball off the Atlantic coast moving west toward the Maine-New Hampshire border.

The meteor was described as being a very bright white color, very fast, and leaving no trail. Unlike other events later in the evening, this meteor likely broken up

Did you see it?

The American Meteor Society, a non-profit which monitors meteor activity world wide, gathers reports from eyewitnesses of all experience levels, website takes you step-by-step through reporting what you saw.