A very huge fireball in the Iowa skies awed and amazed several witnesses in Des Moines and across the U.S. Midwest. There were hundreds of reports received by the American Meteor Society (AMS), of a bright ball of fire streaking across the night sky. Experts agree that is very likely a meteor entering and burning up in our atmosphere.
The AMS is a non-profit organization that collects information and reports on any possible meteor sightings. A total of 460 people filed reports with the AMS on the Iowa incident, mostly coming from the area around the Minnesota and Iowa border.
The massive fireball caught the attention of many Iowa residents and the event was even captured on a street camera in the City of North Liberty. According to the AMS, a very bright meteor is actually called a “fireball.” The AMS defines a fireball as an object with about the same brightness as the planet Venus in the evening or early morning sky.
As soon as people witness the huge fireball, posts began appearing in social media feeds. People in Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana and Illinois also reported seeing the fireball in the sky. None of the witnesses reported hearing any sound neither before, during, nor after they saw the fireball streaking across the sky.
The National Weather Service’s, Kurt Kotenberg, said they are poring over all the reports of the fireball appearing around 5:40 p.m. Thursday. Kotenberg finds it interesting that Venus was visible in the night sky right after sunset when the reports started coming in.
Not all people think that the huge fireball over Iowa was a meteor. Skeptics questioned witnesses if the sighting could have been a falling satellite or some sort of space junk. Most of the witnesses stood firm saying that what they saw was a meteor or a meteorite. The fireball went from a bright light to suddenly disappearing in the sky, a characteristic of meteors entering and burning up in our atmosphere.
According to experts there are thousands of these types of fireballs seen all day and night. Although the fireball did not appear to be a meteor shower, it could have possibly been what is considered a “shooting star.”
While the National Weather Service is still investigating what the fireball actually was, they do think that it will be extremely hard to come to any concrete conclusion due to the lack of detailed information contained in the reports. However, the weather service did catch security camera footage of the event occurring, from cameras installed on the weather service facilities.
The Science Center of Iowa’s, Richard Miles, said that it could have been a good sized bright fireball meteor, but something such as this could also be caused by falling space debris as well.
Professor of Astronomy and Physics at the University of Iowa, Steven Spangler, said that humans have been launching a lot of stuff into space for the last 56 years. When this space junk falls back to earth, it can sometimes resemble a meteor streaking a trail of fire across the sky.
So far it’s impossible to get a definitive answer from experts as to whether the huge fireball over Iowa was likely a meteor or not.
By Brent Matsalla