The spectacular annual Geminid meteor shower is set to kick off this weekend, but Tucson residents were treated to an unpredicted light show of their own Tuesday night.
“There was a low rumbling noise over northwest to northeast Tucson. It was basically a fireball that entered the atmosphere at approximately 45,00 miles an hour,” Dr. Vishnu Reddy of the Planetary Science Institute tells FoxNews.com.
The shooting star shocked residents early Tuesday evening, leaving many perplexed about what exactly they’d seen and heard.
"We heard it right here, because the original fall site is only 4 or 5 miles from where we're standing now. So we did hear a low rumble. And a lot of people have reported hearing some sizzling noises," Reddy said.
The meteor was small and quick. With a width of about half a meter, its size pales in comparison to the 20-meter meteor that landed in Russia earlier this year. But meteorite hunters are still scrambling to southern Arizona, trying to find surviving pieces of Tuesday’s fireball.
"We suspect that there's actually a fragment on the West side of Tucson," Reddy said.
Originally spectators believed the flash of light was a part of the Geminid, but that was later disproved.
The upcoming Geminid meteor is exponentially slower and larger than Tuesday’s meteor, and will display longer lasting light shows. If you’re in the mood to stargaze, the best time to catch it is 4 a.m, GMT.
Aalia Shaheed is part of the Junior Reporter program at Fox News. Get more information on the program here and follow them on Twitter: @FNCJrReporters