Home security cameras across the Denver area have captured the moment a fireball meteor blazed across the early morning sky on Sunday.
The American Meteor Society received more than 40 reports of the meteor, which could be seen by those awake at around 4:30am.
Doug Robinson, of Boulder, said: ‘Everything was pitch dark, and all of a sudden it lit up’.
Robinson told KCNC-TV that he initially thought that the fireball was a flash of lightning.
More than 40 people reported sightings of a fireball to the American Meteor Society early on Sunday morning as it was seen jetting across the Colorado sky
This rare sighting, which was determined to be a superbolide, occurs only every few years as it reaches a magnitude 100 times brighter than a full moon
‘We weren’t sure if it was something else, could it be space junk?’, he added.
Sightings of the fireball were also seen across Wyoming and New Mexico with 12 other videos being recorded in these regions.
Six of these reports told the organization that they also heard a boom.
Chris Peterson, of the Cloudbait Observatory, told KCNC said that sound meant that the meteor was unusually close to the ground.
‘It’s unusual for such a large object and I’m guessing that it was something on the order of a ton of rock,’ told the network.
Peterson also added that most of the debris from the fireball would have turned to dust but some tiny fragments may have fallen to the ground.
‘Whether anything gets found or not remains to be seen,’ he said.
Witnesses reported the sighting not only in Colorado, but in parts of Wyoming and New Mexico as well
This rare sighting, which only occurs every few years, was determined to be a superbolide by Peterson which is said to reach a magnitude 100 times brighter than a full moon, according to The Coloradoan.
‘So it is that kind of event of a lifetime. Something, an amazing little piece of nature that you should relish having seen,’ he added.
The American Meteor Society fireball report coordinator Robert Lunsford said that the fireball was possibly a part of the South Taurids meteor shower.
The South Taurids meteor shower is most prominent during the fall season between September and November which is the time of year that the planet is plowing through the meteor stream, according to Earth Sky.
Doug Robinson, of Boulder, and his wife Kate captured the moment on their home security camera
FIREBALL METEORS: FRAGMENTS OF AN ASTEROID
Sometimes known as a shooting star, a fireball meteor is a rapidly moving space rock inside Earth’s atmosphere.
According to NASA if a meteor is able to survive this burning trip and hit the ground, the rock on Earth becomes known as a meteorite.
The pieces of rock often come from asteroids that broke up due to a collision or other event.
Some have been pieces of other planets or even the Moon.
A piece of Mars rock that fell to Earth as a meteorite is on the Perseverance rover to help calibrate its equipment.
By studying different types of meteorites, scientists can learn more about asteroids, planets and other parts of our solar system.
The annual Gemunid meteor shower is expected to peak in Colorado between December 13-14 for those who missed the fireball.
‘If folks want to bundle up, they will have another opportunity to make another wish,’ Lunsford said.
The scientific organization also said that several thousands of undetected fireballs go through Earth’s atmosphere each day and travel at speeds between 25,000 to 160,000 miles per hour.
These sightings go undetected as they occur in daylight and across vast oceans and uninhabited areas as well as at night when nobody is out to see them.
A large number of fireballs, however, disintegrate before reaching the ground to cause any significant damage.
Another fireball event was reported a week before along the North Carolina coast traveling at a speed of 32,000 miles per hour with 148 reports to the American Meteor Society from a handful of East Coast states such as Maryland, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.
A recent map from the The Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory compiled data from 1988 through 2021 of fireballs that were detected by government sensors.
The world map shows dots, ranging in four different sizes and colors, that are proportional to the impact (kinetic) energy of each fireball, the total energy the meteoroid brought into the atmosphere due to its velocity.
Scientists use the kinetic energy given off by the fireball, sound waves and energy at other wavelengths to determine the size even before it enters Earth’s atmosphere.
Using such calculations helped scientists determine the fireball meteor that fell over Chelyabinsk, Russia on February 15, 2013 measured 65 feet across, which is the largest shown on the map.
The world map shows dots, ranging in four different sizes and colors, that are proportional to the impact (kinetic) energy of each fireball, the total energy the meteoroid brought into the atmosphere due to its velocity
This fireball exploded over the Ural Mountains, causing a shock wave that smashed windows, damaged buildings and injured 1,600 people.
The meteorite broke up into multiple pieces as it entered the atmosphere, scattering debris and creating a shock wave estimated to be as strong as 20 Hiroshima atomic bombs.
The second largest group of fireballs shown on the map primarily fell around the Pacific Ocean and bordering countries, such as Fiji and other islands surrounding Asia.
The US has been hit with smaller-sized meteorites, though not as many as other parts of the world.
Explained: The difference between an asteroid, meteorite and other space rocks
An asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the Main Belt.
A comet is a rock covered in ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.
A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.
This debris itself is known as a meteoroid. Most are so small they are vapourised in the atmosphere.
If any of this meteoroid makes it to Earth, it is called a meteorite.
Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally originate from asteroids and comets.
For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris burns up in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.