KEY POINTS

  • A video captured a fireball streaking across the sky over Collinsville, Illinois on Saturday
  • The fireball did not produce a bright flash or show clear signs of fragmentation
  • The object could be a piece of space debris that fell to Earth

An eyewitness in Illinois captured a video of a fireball flying across the sky. It is not yet clear if the fiery object was caused by a falling meteor that hit Earth or a piece of space debris that entered the atmosphere.

According to the American Meteor Society (AMS), the fireball event happened on Saturday evening. It was spotted over Collinsville, Illinois.

The eyewitness who submitted the report to the AMS provided video footage taken by his home’s doorbell security camera. The short clip showed a bright object streaking across the sky. According to the eyewitness, a loud sound similar to a jet flying can be heard as the fireball flew overhead.

The eyewitness, named Michael K., noted that the fireball appeared in the sky for about 20 seconds. It had a light yellowish color and a magnitude of -13, making it brighter than the planet Venus when viewed from Earth.

Unlike other fireball events, the object that appeared over Illinois did not produce a bright terminal flash. It also did not show clear signs of fragmentation. According to the AMS, fireballs that are caused by falling meteors usually turn into bolides as they explode in the sky.

“A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky,” the AMS explained in a statement. “A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation.”

Based on the appearance of the object, it is possible that the fireball was produced by a piece of space debris falling back to Earth. On Saturday, different eyewitnesses in the U.S. caught a glimpse of fiery space junk streaking across the sky.

Satellite tracker Marco Langbroek of the Netherlands confirmed that the fireballs came from the debris of a Soyuz rocket stage that was launched by Russia in November last year.

“More, impressive footage of the reentry of a Russian rocket stage (space debris) over southwest U.S. and Mexico last night,” Langbroek stated.

Meteor Shower Pictured: In this multiple exposure image, Perseid Meteor Shower is observed on August 13, 2018 in Bungoono, Oita, Japan. Photo: Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images