A fireball flew over portions of Ohio and Pittsburgh early Wednesday morning. Hundreds of people saw the streak of light followed by a bright flash across the sky at around 4:20 am in Ohio.
The American Meteor Society said that the phenomenon was likely a random meteor and not part of a known meteor shower, called Orionids, that is set to happen from October 2 to November 7. Robert Lunsford said that they have been receiving reports of the fireball moving through the air caught by the Ohio Department of Transportation's 800 traffic cameras.
Fireball in early Wednesday morning
Several social media users reported that they saw a streak of light and a bright flash in the sky early Wednesday morning in Pittsburgh, and in Ohio, that happened just before 6:30 am in Pittsburgh.
The fireball was recorded by the dashcam of a truck driving along I-76 in Pennsylvania. Also, the American Meteor Society said that they received over 200 reports of the fireball over Western Ohio.
According to Robert Lunsford, it only takes an object as big as a softball to create a flash as bright as the full moon. In the case of the fireball on Wednesday, Lunsford said it is a bit bigger, but more analysis is needed to confirm its size.
Moreover, science writer Ralph Crewe explained that a fireball was most likely a meteor that fell on Earth. Although falling meteors often happen, a fireball this bright does not usually happen. Indeed, the fireball on Wednesday morning was exceptional.
He also said that the speed of the meteor is causing it to heat quickly, and a fireball as big as this one is rare to see. If ever they do, it is not usually in over-populated areas as it is usually observed in the ocean. Crewe still considers that people who saw the fireball are lucky to witness a rare astronomical event.
The preliminary reports from the American Meteor Society revealed that the fireball traveled from southeast to northwest and ended in North Benton, Ohio, which is 77 miles from Pittsburgh.
How often does fireball happen?
According to the calculations of Bill Cooke, fireballs as bright as Venus happen more than 100 times a day. Meanwhile, fireballs as a quarter Moon happen every ten days, and fireballs that are as bright as a Full Moon occurs once every five months. Cooke is an astronomer from the Marshall Space Flight Center.
He used a computer model of the meteoroid environment of Earth and plotted the occurrence of fireballs on Earth, showing the global number it occurs per day versus the brightness of the fireball.
However, these fireballs are mostly not notices, especially in crowded places. An estimated 70% of fireballs happen over the uninhabited ocean, half of it happens during the day and invisible to the sunny skies. Many fireballs are missed simply because no one bothers to look up the sky.
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