The American Meteor Society is reporting that 190 witnesses in 10 different states viewed a “fireball” meteor that appears to have flown by the St. Louis region and broken up over northeastern Missouri late Monday morning.
Video taken by Tom Stolze, of ofallonweather.org, shows a white streak breaking apart over a residential neighborhood in O’Fallon, Mo. AMS defines a fireball as a meteor with a level of brightness similar to the planet Venus. Several reports from Monday’s fireball describe its color as orange, white and blue.
“At first I thought it might be a small plane but it was smaller than that,” one witness from Belleville wrote on AMS’s website. She saw the fireball for approximately 1.5 seconds.
“I was riding my bike when I saw this streaming light,” an Edwardsville witness wrote, “and it was remarkable how my peripheral vision picked it up and I automatically turned to it without thinking. However, since I was riding a road bike and my head was facing the road, I think I saw mainly the end of the trail, because I wasn’t looking skyward.”
“It looked like a commercial firework, one the professionals use,” the Edwardsville witness wrote about the final flash, “as if it had been set off in the sky, and then flashed just above the ground.”
The American Meteor Society supports amateur and professional astronomers with an interest in meteoric astronomy. According to the organization, several thousand fireballs fall to earth daily, but because most occur in uninhabited regions, only a small fraction are seen.