Fireball lights up night sky

Patrick Hammer explains the "fireball" you may have seen in the sky last night

BUFFALO - BUFFALO, NY--  Shortly after 10:30pm Tuesday night, night stargazers were given a very special treat.

A fireball streaked through the sky appearing about as bright as the moon. This fireball is essentially a meteor that is large enough to create quite a large and bright streak across the sky.

Many people from Ontario and New York state, down through Pennsylvania saw a flash of light moving from the south to the north, and then disappearing quickly.

This is actually a fairly common occurrence, it's just not always so visible to such a populated area.

Meteors streak across the sky burning up in our atmosphere constantly. Normally we see them in the form of so-called shooting stars which are meteors about the size of a grain of sand or a pebble.  However the meteor that streaked across the sky Tuesday evening was larger; possibly the size of a baseball or even a basketball as it burned up in the atmosphere.

Every now and again these type of meteors can actually explode right before making impact with the Earth. That is something called a boloid and can cause damage even if there is not a direct impact with Earth. Such an event occurred early in the 19th century in Siberia, Russia where a boloid exploded shortly before impact wiping out millions of acres of forest.

Luckily, this occurrence was just a streak across the sky with no damage reported. Count yourself luck that you were able to see it. These fireballs can be bright enough to be seen even in broad daylight.

© 2017 WGRZ-TV


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