UFO In Flight? A Fireball With a Weird Trajectory Lit Up The Sky Over The Midwest Yesterday
For midwesterners, fireworks weren't the only things worth staring up at the sky for during this long holiday weekend. Hundreds of people in Iowa, Michigan, Indiana, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois reported seeing a ball of light streak across the sky between 8:30 and 9:00 pm CDT yesterday. The streak – which in at least one video seemed to be traveling along a curiously horizontal trajectory – was actually a fireball blazing a path over Illinois and Iowa, according to the American Meteor Society, and luckily a few cameras were rolling and pointed in the right direction to capture the event.
One such skywatcher was photographer and missouriskies.org owner Dan Bush, who happened to have not one, but two unmanned video cameras aimed at the horizon. Bush, who submitted the videos to the AMS described the fireball on his YouTube channel: "It was really hauling the mail as it moved from due North to almost due East in about 13 seconds."
A request for comment from Bush went unanswered as of press time today.
For those unfamiliar with meteor terminology, the term "fireball" is used to describe an ultra bright meteor. The American Meteor Society says that fireballs are typically brighter than a magnitude -4, which is the equivalent of Venus's visibility. If the fireball had crashed into the atmosphere, it would have been even brighter and the light would have been classified as a bolide. That said, the AMS reported that "many witnesses reported a fragmentation," which means that it may well have entered the Earth's atmosphere. Some evidence of that fragmentation can be seen in the video below. Speculation aside, fireballs are very common (with an estimated thousands grazing our atmosphere each day), but most are over oceans where only birds and fish would notice them, and others happen during the day so they go unseen by security and smartphone cameras.
So far this year, we've seen fireballs the size of minivans pass over Washington State, a giant streak in Peru that prompted rumors of aliens and UFOs, a streak that experts say was nothing more than space junk, and a ball of light that somehow went undetected by NASA until it exploded with a bang over Russia. There is never a dull moment in Earth's atmosphere, and it is pretty cool when there's a free light show just above our heads, but if aliens do exist and if they ever do visit our planet, will we be able to tell the difference between a ship and a bright meteor before it's too late? It's not a bad time to start practicing, so keep your eyes peeled.