Giant 'Fireball' Meteor Terrifies Detroit

Science News
Wednesday, 17 January 2018 - 10:11AM

Meteors fall to Earth every so often but seldom do they enter our atmosphere with a flash of light and a massive seismic interruption. That's just what happened last night across metro Detroit, though.


At around 8:15 p.m., residents from all over the city began to feel their homes shaking, and soon saw the sky aglow with a fiery flash of light in the northwestern sky. The shaking wasn't exaggerated, either—the U.S. Geological Service registered a 2.0 magnitude earthquake in that area last night.

It's curious that the report attributes the incident to a meteor, though. "It looks like from videos and reports we've gotten (that it's a) meteor," Jordan Dale, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in White Lake, told USA Today. "However, we cannot confirm it's a meteor. At this point, we're just sticking to what we know — and it was not thunder or lightning or weather-related." 

What does the U.S. Geological Service know that a meteorologist in White Lake doesn't? It could be an instance where they had a larger batch of past cases to cross-reference, but it could also be an example of a larger Federal organization shaping an unexplained event with a context that best suits their narrative.

The best explanation for the massive fireball is that, when a meteorite enters our atmosphere it compresses the atmospheric gasses in front of it. The heat of gas vaporizes the meteorite, turning it into what we commonly call a meteor. What we're still lacking though, is any evidence of impact that would warrant such a home-shaking, seismic event.


Meanwhile, Twitter has flooded with local resident's best alien memes and amateur images of the object in the sky.


They seem to be in good spirits about the event, too—one resident jokingly expressed their hope that the purported meteor doesn't cause any more potholes, while another suggested that this event will bring Detroit more excitement than any Michigan sports team is capable of delivering in 2018. Another attempted to draw a conspiratory connection between Kim and Kanye's third child being born within hours of the sighting.

Other notable recent meteor sightings include a giant green fireball that stunned the UK on New Year's Eve, when it was visible from as far north as Port Elphinstone, Scotland, and as far south as Isle of Wight. Days earlier, a "golf ball-sized" meteor flew across the New Egland sky.