Fireball causes boom, unnerving upstate New York: ‘It looked like a gold metallic flash’

The disturbance resulted in at least 150 reports

A fireball that rattled windows and was felt from southern Ontario to Virginia midday Wednesday is widely thought to be an asteroid, experts believe.

According to the American Meteor Society (AMS) in Geneseo, N.Y., the disturbance resulted in at least 150 reports, seen in wide swaths of the eastern part of North America, including Maryland, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Virginia.

On the society’s website, an observer in western New York reported the fireball was bright white with shades of yellow. An observer in Hagerstown, Md., reported a fireball with red and orange sparks, smoke and a persistent train. A report from Welland, Ontario, described a long, bright green train.

There were also multiple 911 calls in central New York after the boom shook windows, though clouds prevented sightings of the fireball. 

The AMS also received a video of the fireball, courtesy of someone named “Stephen P.”

“Sunny day so it looked like a gold metallic flash against the blue sky,” said a report from Winchester, Va.

EarthCam tweeted footage of the fireball from a camera in Toronto.

Another observer from Port Dover, Ontario said they “still get goosebumps talking about it,” adding the train “was flaming white, wide and long, no smoke.”

A small chunk of an asteroid or comet is known as a meteoroid. When it enters Earth’s atmosphere, it becomes a meteor, fireball or shooting star. The pieces of rock that hit the ground, valuable to collectors, are called meteorites.

In October, researchers discovered that a fireball that entered Earth’s atmosphere in January 2018 over Michigan contained “extraterrestrial organic compounds.” 

In 2019, a separate group of researchers suggested meteorites actually made life possible on Earth. They identified isotopes of selenium in rocks in Earth’s mantle and found identical isotope signatures inside certain meteorites, notably those from the outer solar system.