KEY POINTS

  • A fireball event was spotted in Arizona
  • Eyewitnesses from different states saw the meteor
  • The fireball was caused by an asteroid hitting Earth

Residents of Arizona were surprised to see a bright missile-like fireball streaking across the sky over the state. Based on eyewitness reports, it seems an asteroid collided with Earth and created a bright explosion in the sky.

According to eyewitnesses, the incident happed on Feb. 26 at around 5:30 am. Aside from Arizona, the fireball event was also spotted from neighboring states, including California, New Mexico and Utah.

As noted by the International Meteor Organization (IMO), it received a total of 69 eyewitness reports regarding the fireball. Most of the individuals who filed reports were from various cities in Arizona.

One of the eyewitnesses said the fireball looked like a missile streaking across the dark sky. Another eyewitness, Hugh Z. from Scottsdale, said the object was so bright he thought a car with its headlights on was directly behind him. He also said the fireball produced a long tail.

“This was actually behind me and lit up the area like a car turning on its bright lights,” he stated on his eyewitness report. “I turned around to see it pass by me. It was like a bright white glowing ball with a long trailing burning tail. (A very low big shooting star) It passed by very quickly.”

A video of the fireball was captured by an eyewitness’ dashcam. As indicated in the video, the eyewitness was driving in Tucson, Arizona when the bright fireball suddenly appeared in the sky. The object first appeared like a tiny spark in the air before turning into a glowing sphere.

Before the fireball disappeared behind the houses in the video, it seemed to have started flickering. This could be an indication that the object that created the fireball has started to explode. It is not yet clear if fragments from the object reached the ground.

As noted by the American Meteor Society (AMS), fireball events are mainly caused by small-sized asteroids hitting Earth. As they enter the atmosphere, they become meteors that burn up due to the intense friction and pressure. The AMS said that on a daily basis, thousands of meteors cause fireball events on Earth.

“Several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day,” the organization stated. “The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight.”

Meteor
Pictured: This image taken with a meteorite tracking device developed by George Varros, shows a meteorite as it enters Earth's atmosphere during the Leonid meteor shower November 19, 2002. Getty Images/George Varros and Dr. Peter Jenniskens/NASA
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