Did you see the big meteor last night?
Many people reported a bright green object quickly soaring across the night sky around 9:30 p.m. Saturday night. Based on reports, it lasted quite long for a typical meteor, at least 5 seconds by some accounts. People reported seeing it from Salem, Oregon to southern British Columbia, from Tri Cities to Astoria.
So what was it? Well, a good guess is that it was a larger meteor that burned up in out atmosphere. Right now, there are two annual meteor showers that are ongoing: the Delta Aquarids meteor shower, and the more popular and spectacular Perseid meteor shower. The Delta Aquarids are currently peaking with roughly 20 meteors per hour. The Perseids won’t peak until August 11-12, but you are likely to see meteors from that several weeks before and after those dates.
Let’s focus on Saturday night. Most meteors that fall towards earth are tiny - like the size of grains of sand. That’s why they’re so quick; they burn up in our atmosphere within a second or two.
What happened Saturday night was more likely a fireball. A fireball is a somewhat larger meteor, which is why it lasts so long. While it is unknown exactly how big this one was, it probably ranged in size from a baseball to a volleyball. Because there was no explosion or reports of any sound, it probably wasn’t much bigger than that.
According to NASA, thousands of fireballs occur around the world each day. Many of these we don’t see because they either happen during the daytime or they happen over open ocean or extremely rural areas where people just don’t get to see them.
Those who did see last night’s fireball certainly got a treat! You might have even captured video without even knowing it! If you have outdoor home security footage, give it a check, and see if you captured this rare sight!