All eyes were on the evening sky Sunday as residents across nine Midwest states reported seeing a fireball, or a bright meteor, fly by.
The American Meteor Society (AMS) confirmed Monday that it received 270 reports about the fireball event throughout Minnesota, Indiana, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.
“The estimated 3D trajectory computed from the witness reports shows an shallow entry angle, one that could be associated with an Earth-grazing fireball,” the AMS explained in a post online. “But many witnesses reported a fragmentation – it could mean the meteoroid actually went through the Earth atmosphere.”
Several people took to social media Sunday to confirm the impressive sighting.
“Airline crew here, we saw it pass from right to left (north to south) over Moline, IL. It left a brilliant green light and shed lots of debris as it entered the atmosphere, exploding at the end,” one Twitter user explained.
“Anyone just see the Big Green fireball fly thru the sky!?????? Just flew over me as I was passing Mahoney St Park. THAT THING WAS BOOKING IT!!!!!” another exclaimed.
“I also saw the green shooting star/fireball in Saint Paul. Definitely a meteorite,” one user added.
A meteor forms when a meteoroid, a type of space rock that breaks off from an asteroid — a rocky body orbiting the sun — enters Earth’s atmosphere. As soon as the space debris crosses over, it breaks down into what scientists call a “meteor,” which then vaporizes and, as a result of friction, appears as a bright streak of light in the sky.
“Because of their appearance, these streaks of light some people call meteors ‘shooting stars,’” NASA explains in a blog post online. “But scientists know that meteors are not stars at all — they are just bits of rock!”