Watch: Meteor fireball lights up night skies over Colorado

Coloradans were treated to a rare and beautiful celestial spectacle in the early hours of Sunday, August 27, 2023, when a fireball streaked across the night sky. This spectacular meteor shower drew observers, sparked conversations, and left an indelible effect on those lucky enough to witness it.

Several viewers posted videos of the bright light streaking across the sky around 3:33 a.m. from their home security cameras and weather stations.

The American Meteor Society (AMS) lists more than 80 pending fireball reports on its website. Reports are pending from Wyoming to New Mexico. Many were from Colorado.

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Celestial Surprise: Meteor Fireball Lights Up Colorado Skies

Several people shared videos of a #meteorite that crossed the night sky #Colorado Around 3 a.m., the meteor was captured on video from various areas along the Front Range. One bystander said the fireball lit up the entire neighborhood.

-RRN (@RRNmedia) August 28, 2023

“What was interesting and exciting about this was that so many people watched it,” said University of Colorado research scientist Margaret Landis.

“So it wasn’t exactly small.” She claims that most shooting stars in a meteor shower are the size of a grain of sand, down to the size of a pebble, but a fireball can be 3 feet in diameter or more.

Landis researches meteorite impact craters at CU Boulder and has visited several of the largest in the world. She says the fireball on Sunday morning may have been big enough to reach Earth, but she’s not organizing a search team.

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The Colorado sky was illuminated by a fireballCredit: NRN News

“I wouldn’t go out with my metal detector looking for something,” he explained. “It might be fun to try for 20 minutes, but I don’t think there’s going to be a big steam field, which is the technical term for what comes out of one of these explosions.”

She believes the fireball was a fragment of comet 109P/Swift-Tuttle, responsible for the Perseid meteor shower. That rain occurs every August and usually peaks in the middle of the month.

Perseid meteor shower producing more fireballs

According to NASA, the Perseid meteor shower produces more fireballs than any other shower. However, they only sometimes occur during the peak period. Perseids usually expire on September 1.

The Colorado sky was illuminated by a fireballCredit: NRN News

Landis also claimed that the fireball could have come from something else, such as an asteroid, a moon, or even another planet. “The best way to determine the origin of a meteor is to recover a fragment that hits Earth,” he said.

The Colorado sky was illuminated by a fireballCredit: NRN News

“However, other types of analyzes can provide that information as well. If you can determine the speed of the meteor, you can determine the angle at which it entered the atmosphere and then track it back to its source.”

He said this type of measurement is not done often and he was still determining whether it would be done in the case of this particular fireball.

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