Great Boston balls of fire! Reports that a meteor lit up Hub skies
Boston-area residents reported seeing a "fireball," also known as a meteor, over the Hub and surrounding communities last night.
Was the Boston sky ablaze with a fireball Monday night?
According to skygazers in Boston, Weymouth and Quincy, for a few seconds, it was.
Lunar Meteorite Hunters, a blog that allows people across the globe to report meteor sightings, got four local reports of a colorful fireball around 9 p.m. Monday.
David Kelley from Quincy reported seeing it at 9:05 p.m., and said it sparked the sky for up to five seconds.
Kelley described the ball as "lime green," "fairly bright, very noticeable," and "looked like a fireball."
"Falling at an angle at a rapid speed. Lost track of it through the trees," Kelley said.
A Boston woman named Cathy reported seeing it at 9:11 p.m., saying it lasted "probably two seconds, then I couldn't see it because of trees."
She said it appeared to be heading west to east, as she was looking north.
The ball had a "yellow and orangish, white tail, then it glowed suddenly very bright."
"Never have seen anything like it," she wrote.
While no local experts were able to confirm that a meteorite indeed passed over Boston skies, one did weigh in on the unique experience, saying sightings are rare.
"I've seen two in the past 20 years, but I just happened to be looking in the right place at the right time (and it was a very dark sky in both cases)," Tereasa Brainerd Department Chair of Astronomy at Boston University.
Maxx, from Brighton, said "It was very long with a solid tip."
A Weymouth man and a Lowell woman also reported the meteorite a little after 9 p.m., however those two said it lasted longer - up to seven seconds.
"Bright Green rectangle with a slanted pointed end," wrote Lisa Foster of Lowell. "(It was as) bright as the moon."
Boston University Astronomy professor Meers Oppenheim said that while
the large meteors are less commonly spotted, small ones likely pass over
the Hub all the time.
"If you lay on your back at night on any random night you will see a
little meteor - a shooting star - about every 10 minutes on average, if
the skies are dark and clear," he said.
However those common ones only spark the sky for a second or two, he said.
The blog also showed reports of sightings over Maine and New Hampshire around the same time Monday night.
Media outlets in the United Kingdom reported that a loud late-night bang and "flash of light" alarmed people across parts of south Wales and western England Monday night.
The BBC News reported that some residents there heard a large airborne "explosion" that shook their homes.
The cause of that incident remains unclear, according to the report, but there was speculation on social media that it could have been a meteor burning up.