LOCKHART, Texas (KXAN) — A bright fireball streaking across the Sunday night sky dazzled Central Texas residents whose home security cameras captured the rare sighting.
The American Meteor Society (AMS), a nonprofit that tracks meteor astronomy, received at least 219 reports of people seeing the fireball Sunday mostly in Texas, but some even spotted it in states like Oklahoma and Louisiana.
A post online from the organization stated, “The initial computer generated trajectory shows that this fireball entered the atmosphere over Cistern, Texas and its flight ended Just a few miles west of Austin. Several witnesses near the flight path reported hearing a delayed sonic boom, indicating that meteorites from this fireball may have survived down to the ground. Any meteorites found are probably just small fragments of the original fireball.”
John Roescher passed along a video taken outside his home in Lockhart. His surveillance camera pointing eastward showed a dot appear in the sky at about 10:23 p.m. Sunday and then grow much brighter when it passed overhead, illuminating the trees.
Eric Lunsford’s doorbell camera at his south Austin home showed the fireball illuminated in a blue light when it streaked across the sky Sunday at about 10:22 p.m.
The AMS characterized what a fireball is as a meteor that is larger and brighter than normal, which usually is only the size of a small rock.
“This particular fireball was probably the size of a small car prior to entering the atmosphere,” the AMS stated. “The reason for the brightness is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than any round fired from a firearm.”
Robert Lunsford with the AMS said it’s rare for a fireball to create such a bright streaking light for several seconds rather than simply a quick flash in the sky.
“The fact that this is traveling in the neighborhood of about 40 miles per second, that’s very impressive this one lasted so long,” Lunsford said. “We’re talking about a sizable object and the fact that several of our reports indicate hearing a sonic boom after this object disappeared. That indicates that fragments of this fireball may have survived all the way to the ground and landed just west of Austin.”
The AMS is asking anyone else who may have witnessed the fireball in the Austin area to report it by filling out a form on its website.
Keep your eyes to the Texas sky for the next meteor shower coming up in three weeks. The Perseid meteor shower is expected to reach maximum activity on August 12 and 13.