COLORADO, USA — Many Colorado residents reported seeing a bright light in the sky early Sunday morning.
Several viewers shared videos from their home security cameras and weather stations of a bright light streaking across the sky around 3:33 a.m.
The American Meteor Society (AMS) has more than 80 pending fireball reports listed on their website. The pending reports are from Wyoming to New Mexico. Many were made in Colorado.
“The interesting thing and the excitement for this one was that it was observed by so many people," said Margaret Landis, a research scientist with the University of Colorado. "So, it was not a particularly small one.”
She said most of the shooting stars we see in a normal meteor shower are about the size of a grain of sand, up to the size of a pebble, but a fireball can commonly be 3 feet in diameter or larger.
Landis studies meteor impact craters at CU Boulder and has been to some of the biggest on Earth. She said Sunday morning's fireball may have been just big enough to reach the ground, but she's not forming a search party.
“I wouldn’t take my metal detector out trying to look for something," she said. "It might be fun to try for 20 minutes, but I don’t think there’s going to be a large steam field, which is the technical term for the stuff that comes out of one of these explosions.”
She said there’s a good chance this fireball was a piece of the comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, which is what causes the Perseid meteor shower. That shower happens every August and usually peaks mid-month.
NASA said the Perseid is known to produce more fireball meteors than any other shower, but they don’t necessarily happen during the peak period. The Perseids typically end on Sep. 1.
Landis also said it is very possible the fireball came from something else, like an asteroid, a moon or even another planet.
"The best way to figure out a meteor's origin, is to recover a piece that makes it to Earth," she said. "But other types of analysis can also tell you that information. If you can figure out the meteor's velocity, that would give you a clue to the angle it entered the atmosphere, and then you could trace it back to its origin."
She said that type of measurement is not always done, and she was not aware if that would happen in the case of this particular fireball.
Loveland resident Kris Webber sent 9NEWS this video captured on a Nest camera:
Northglenn resident Katrina Jimenez sent 9NEWS this video from her weather station:
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