Streaking at a speed of about 40,200 mph, an asteroid zipped across the Arizona sky on Thursday morning, lighting up the night with a fireball, triggering sonic booms, and spurring calls to the police.
NASA says that the object was probably about five feet across, weighed a few tons, and was so bright that the cameras trained to the sky were whited out by the event.
The meteor’s last known location was about 22 miles over the Tonto National Forest, and likely left behind meteorites on the ground. When the sky lightened in the morning, a twisted smoke trail was visible.
“There are no reports of any damage or injuries—just a lot of light and few sonic booms,” Bill Cooke, of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama, said in a statement. “If Doppler radar is any indication, there are almost certainly meteorites scattered on the ground north of Tucson.”
The American Meteor Society said that it had received more than 340 reports of the fireball— an event defined as a “very bright meteor”-- which occurred just before 4 a.m. mountain time, including reports from Texas, California, and New Mexico.
CNN reported that a spokesman for the Phoenix Police Department told them they had received over 60 calls after the event.
NASA said that while this meteor was just about five feet across, the 2013 object that dramatically streaked across the city of Chelyabinsk in Russia was probably about 65 feet across and produced more than 800 times the amount of energy as this one.