22
Mar
2013

Eastern USA Fireball March 22, 2013

The American Meteor Society has received over 1200 reports of a bright meteor that occurred at 19:54 (7:54pm EDT) on Friday evening March 22, 2013. The witnesses range from along the Atlantic coast ranging from Maine to North Carolina. This object was also seen as far inland as Ohio and Michigan. Individual reports may be viewed in the 2013 AMS Fireball Table. Refer to event #667 for 2013.

For those not familiar with meteors and fireballs, a fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of small pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth. It is rare though for an individual to see more than one or two per lifetime as they also occur during the day, on a cloudy night, or over a remote area where no one sees it. Observing during one of the major annual meteor showers can increase your chance of seeing another one of these bright meteors.

Meteors often appear much closer than they really are. There is often a common misconception that the object appeared nearby when in fact the actual flight path was several hundred miles away and was witnessed over several states. It is your perspective that makes meteors appear to strike the horizon when in fact they are still high in the atmosphere. This is much like a jetliner seen low in your sky. It appears low to you but for someone located many miles away in that direction, the jetliner is passing high overhead. Meteors become visible at approximately 50 miles above the Earth’s surface. Friction slows these objects down until they fall below the velocity necessary to produce light. At this point they still lie at least 5 miles high in the sky. They are invisible below this altitude and cannot be seen as they basically free falling to the ground at 200mph. Very few meteors actually reach the ground as 99.99% completely disintegrate while still 10-20 miles up in the atmosphere.

Robert Lunsford
American Meteor Society

About Robert Lunsford

Bob has been interested in the stars as far back as he can recall His first experience with meteors was a biggie, the 1966 Leonid shower. In 1980, a major awaking occurred. He received a sample copy of Meteor News. He was amazed to learn there was a group actually devoted strictly to meteor observing! He joined the group also started to view some of the minor showers list among the pages of Meteor News. Lastly, he was contracted by Springer Publishing in 2007 to write a book on observing meteors. The book is now available and hopefully will be a useful guide to all interested in the enjoyable field of meteor observing. More info about Robert Lunsford →
85 Responses
  1. Article states that “meteor that occurred near 2200 (8:00pm EDT) on Friday evening…”
    2200 is 10 p.m.. I’m not out to correct anyone. just curious as to the time of the sightings. Were the reports close to 8 p.m. or closer to 10 p.m. Thanks guys


    • Ellen,

      Thanks for bringing this to our attention! It has been corrected in our article.

      Robert Lunsford
      American Meteor Society


    • We were heading for pizza in Trenton, going from car to restaurant, it was an amazing sight! Serendipity at its finest!


    • charles horton says: May 27, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      Closer to 11 pm..i seen it..and it was absolutely enormous..it was blueish green in color with what looked like fire and sparks trailing it


  2. kenneth oakes says: March 22, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    i live in niantic ct and I saw this meteor race horizontally accross the night sky around 8pm. it appeared very bright and was a greenish and blue color and broke apart as i was watching it.


    • elaine bucci says: March 23, 2013 at 6:42 am

      i saw it around 8 pm in hope, ri! it was so colorful i thought it was fireworks =)


    • Bill Davidson says: March 23, 2013 at 7:09 am

      I wish driving north on Route 29 near Remington, Virginia and my daughte r, my wife and I saw the exact same thing as Kenneth Oates did near 8 pm.


    • would this meteor have a loud bang that I could have heard in Jacksonville, FL. ? I thought I heard a really loud firework go off around that time last night.


  3. Tom Hanaway jr. says: March 23, 2013 at 12:31 am

    Mr. Lunsford, Very interesting information. thanks., Tom


  4. Rob lindvig says: March 23, 2013 at 1:09 am

    We seen this event as we were leaving my sons baseball practice in inwood wv. Was very bright ball of light shooting across sky. Also had like a green color to it as it passed. Looked like a flare being shot but there was no way it could have been flare because of angle in sky. Was a beautiful sight.


  5. Brian McGuinness says: March 23, 2013 at 1:17 am

    I was at Sperry Observatory in Cranford, NJ at the time. Just by pure chance I happened to be looking west toward Jupiter when I spotted what at first looked like a 4th of July rocket, starting perhaps 40 degrees up, rising almost vertically. It was very bright and green in color, with a long tail. It appeared to pulsate slowly several times, getting brighter and dimmer. It passed to the north of Jupiter, rose high overhead, somewhat to the south, passed to the north of the Moon, and finally expired as an orangey cinder to the southeast. A friend of mine saw his shadow clearly cast on the concrete underfoot and guessed that the meteor must have been at least magnitude -12. It was the most amazing meteor I’ve ever seen.


    • I saw this too– It was very very overwhelming compaired to the meteor that I witnessed tonite at 9:14 pm over Hunterdon County, NJ. The meteor you saw, I saw, and it shot straight over me!!! (March 22, 2013- approx. 8 pm). I saw its flames and silouette of an asteroid around 3-4 feet across and 4 feet wide?? I knew it was approx. that size and I told my uncle who also saw it in a different location. He said it was probably only the size of a softball. I later found out I was right. It also appeared to be about 3 1/2 telephone poles up high in height. Maybe 5 at most as it was at the lowest point – I saw it decending from way way way way up high – Higher than you can imagine – then it descended very rapidly as I was talking to a friend who told me to videotape it. I said “no” and couldn’t think straighter……Stupid me now. I think I was one of the closest ones to it as I only saw orange flames shooting out from behind this large rock as I saw it up very close– It was overwhelming and I didn;t know the speed then but I got in my car as it came closer – and as I rolled my window down to look up (which felt like an eternity in comparison) IT WAS GONE!!! COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED. The house I used to live in (where I was) is located 25 or 30 miles from the Jersey Shore- It was headed straight for the shore and was probably there 3 seconds later. If you saw colors or it was disintegrating…….it was out over our NJ Sea!!! It was purely an amazing experience….but as I say – overwhelming as my senses couldn’t take “the speed of it” in.


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  10. Allison M Hattan says: March 23, 2013 at 4:49 am

    I saw the meteor, fireball at approximately 8 pm burning out moving Northwest to East in NYC. It appeared very close to earth as compared to the moon. It appeared broken into many pieces.


  11. I saw it appear over my head at approx. 7:50 PM in Bayonne New Jersey. It appeared identical in manner as described by kenneth oakes – green fireball with a blue exterior surrounded by a white halo. It appeared to slow down to a consistent speed during the last seconds before it burnt out and broke apart into several dark pieces scattered before it like a shotgun shot immediately in front of its flight path.


    • I am in South Jersey and saw it too! Exactly 7:53 pm. I couldn’t believe my eyes!!! Most beautiful thing ever!


  12. I saw this a 8pm last night 3/22 in Monkton md! It was amazing!


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  14. I am also in CT, right on the beach. It was a gorgeous blue/green fireball with a sparkling white tail. It arced from west to east, right over the water and into the skies above the Atlantic Ocean. It seemed to be breaking up in a dazzling display of bright sparks before it disappeared over the horizon.


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  16. We saw it too at around 8pm, It was low in the sky heading west to east in Maryland. It was awesome!


  17. Barbara Smith says: March 23, 2013 at 8:37 am

    I live in Tracys Landing, MD and I saw it also, around 8 PM. It was bright green and white in color. I thought at first it was some kind of fireworks.


  18. Dave Koski says: March 23, 2013 at 8:38 am

    Witnessed this one and reported it here (great site btw!) and as a total naif I was wondering, is it typical that a meteor would appear this large, bright and colorful? It looked like an errant firework with a distinctly large central mass, far different from the other quick white streak of light type meteorites (meteorettes? meteorinis?) I have seen before.


  19. While driving east on the 202 bypass west of Doylestown, Pa around 9:50 PM, I saw what appeared to be a very bright shooting star/meteor. It was to my right at about 2 o’clock in the night sky and traveled at about a 2 o’clock to 8 o’clock angle, going west to east. The sighting lasted 4 to 5 seconds. It was not a fireball but a streak that increase to a length of about 12 to 16 inches across the sky when it finally disappeared. If it had been a plane, at the speed that it was going, it would have been close to me and I would have seen it’s running lights.

    Friday night on the late night news I heard the report about a fireball being seen, but that sighting was around 8 PM that evening. What I saw was between 9:50 and 10:00 PM Friday night. Was there another sighting that was not report?


    • I saw the same thing!


    • I saw something very similar between the time you stated! It was as long but I was in a very bright suburban area close to NYC. Thank you for posting that bcuz I thought I was going crazy! well, crazier.


  20. I was standing on the National Mall, between the Capitol Building and the Washington Monument and saw it! It was beautiful and the tail behind it was just stunning with colors. What a perfect ending in to our trip to DC!!


  21. Jeff Wilhelm says: March 23, 2013 at 9:19 am

    Good Morning. I coach high school baseball in Broadway, Virginia in Western Virginia. We had a game last night and we witnessed this meteor at 8pm north of our location. It was not “blinding,” but it was thought to be a prolonged shooting star with a green color.

    After the events that occured in Russia, I was a bit astonished that this was a meteor. And to be honest with you, it is quite unnerving.

    Thank you.


  22. What did I see last Friday night March 15 about 10 p.m.? While driving North on Rte 684 and approaching Exit 6, I saw what I called “a shooting star”..It was falling in the dark North Eastern sky. It had a tail and lasted for several seconds. My reaction was “wow, look at that”
    Was it a metero or just a dying star?


  23. I was in my car and I stopped because I thought that I saw a shooting star but I was wrong ot was a meteor and I was amazed by it!!!! Wow that was the first time


  24. My aunt and I saw this outside at my Grandma’s house we never have seen a metor or a fireball, it was amazing! I live in Terryville, CT.


  25. I saw the metor and I was amazed by it I thought that it was a shooting star but I guess I was wrong. That was the first time I saw a medor and I was so excited to see my first one!!!!!!:) the one i saw was in DE in a supping vented!!!:)


  26. Aj Piselli says: March 23, 2013 at 10:00 am

    I saw that!!!!! That was really cool to see and yes it was around 20:00 or 8 pm. It sort of flew in the sky for like 8-10 seconds maybe more then it just exploded into a bunch of pieces. It looked like a light with a blue tail… Soooo awesomeee only experienced something like that maybe 3 times in my life!!


  27. Nobody seemed to mention this one but I saw one later around 12:35 am-12:45am in Bellingham/Franklin, MA along 495 South to the SW heading S-SE. Lasted about 3-5 seconds and from my view the light was maybe as wide as a pencil. Also had a green tint when I last saw it.


  28. Linda Glazier says: March 23, 2013 at 10:17 am

    WE were coming out of Family Pizza in Colchester CT around 2000 when we saw this meteor. There were several people in the parking lot. My husband said “hey look at that” It was like a fireball i gues…it had a white orb with a green trail going in a southerly direction. This is the second time I personally have seen a meteor. The first was when I was living in northern New Hampshire about 2001, as I was driving home from work after 3-11 shift. It was about 2340 or so. Thie meteor was huge and all white with a thick shorter white trail. That was awesome too.


  29. We saw this in Brooklyn, NY and were completely surprised! It seemed so close!


  30. I live in West Newfield Maine. Saw the meteor heading West to East just before 8pm. Red/orange glowing tail. It was quite a site.


  31. i was going to work i live phila. pa. at about 7:50 pm i seen something like a flare with colors…..it was so close it was above my head.i was in shock i started to yell out….anybody else see this……..i was stuck looking up as it pass me by with neon colors like blue red green i think purple…it was moving kind slow but fast because i blink and it was gone i had a good look for about 9 hold seconds as it pass by my head…it was wonderful……….beautiful………shocking and esquisite……..a memory forever


  32. John Iacangelo says: March 23, 2013 at 11:05 am

    From Olney, MD; I was actually looking North for Polaris trying to get my bearings (out searching for Panstars) when the fireball started. It appeared a bit west of due north, quite bright and moving eastward. I was too awestruck to use my binoculars. It was 7:55 when I checked the time (a minute or two later).


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  34. I saw it ~ 8:00 while driving east on Windover Ave in Vienna, Virginia. The fireball streaked with a long orangy / green tail …. AWESOME !…
    NPK


  35. Lynne Hanlon says: March 23, 2013 at 11:57 am

    I live in Virginia Beach, VA. My 8 year old grand daughter and I were on the Interstate and had a clear view of it as it streaked across the sky and then fizzled out. I immediately called my son and told him about it… an orange ball with a long green tail. I wasn’t sure what it was but I knew it wasn’t something I had ever seen before! It was amazing and I am so glad we were in the right place at the right time to see it!


  36. Michelle Ray says: March 23, 2013 at 12:15 pm

    I was travelling South on Route 9, just North of Latham, NY, around 8pm. I saw a light in the sky, appearing to travel East. At first I thought it was a plane since Albany International Airport is nearby. But then I saw the light flashing bright before it fizzled out, and I realized that it was a comet, shooting star, meteorite or fireball. I wasn’t sure what it was, but it was definitely not a plane! I Googled it to see if any reports had been made, but I didn’t see any that early. The local ABC News affiliate/ weather report (WTEN) confirmed it later. Pretty cool to see something like this!


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  39. I was walking in pathmark open parking lot at 815PM est and all of a sudden sighted fireball… very pleasant experience.. was little cloudy so was not very clear but saw final blast before it disappeared. I believe it lasts for like 3 4 seconds… but best experience in my life


  40. I live in Woodbridge, VA. I was sitting in my family room facing Northeast. I saw the fireball shoot across the sky through the trees behind our house. It looked similar to the videos we’ve seen of the meteor in Russia. Amazing site!


  41. We saw a very bright meteor over Brooklyn going South to North at 9.50 pm. So there must have been two – one at 8 pm and one later.


  42. Ed Jurkiewicz says: March 23, 2013 at 4:51 pm

    I saw it while driving west on Route 4 in Burlington Connecticut around 8:00 p.m. Friday evening. I’ve seen many meteors, but this was different. It was traveling in a generally north to south direction and appeared to be around the altitude that a small plane might fly, although that was probably only appearance. It seemed to be throwing off sparks, and as I watched it it flashed green. Truly amazing.


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  44. A beautiful sight ! Clear sky, when i saw a squashed white oval surrounded by a greenish color with a small green tail. The green was quite vivid. I saw this low on the horizon in the SW sky at approx. 7:53 pm 3-22-2013 from Cape Cod for a duration of 1.5 seconds.


  45. Shoreline Star says: March 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm

    Exactly a week before this one on a friday night at about the same time in the evening I saw the same type of meteor as far as the color radiating off of it. It was an intense green but short lived. It had a decent flight time but not quite as long as this one that is being mentioned here..However the directional path was the same exactly…I live in Florida and as I mentioned this was a week before does anyone remember seeing anything on that particular night…So anyway are these perhaps a part of the upcoming meteor show in April and these maybe are just the early birds of that same group coming! Also to add to this I have Skywatched at night on many occasions throughout the years when I can find the perfect blend of time and,clear skies. I must say it is one of the rarest simple pleasures that we have that a person can indulge in now and again and not have to worry about gaining weight or paying too much or waiting in line or any of those normal types of concerns…Its you and a lawn lounger and the night sky and nothing could be simpler…Add one person of good company and you have yourself the makings of a memorable night…


  46. I was in Burtonsville, Maryland when I saw it. I tweeted about it about a minute after I saw it. I saw it around 6:50 – 7 PM. My mom and I weren’t sure if it was a shooting star or an airplane and I kept telling her that it wasn’t an airplane. I guess we were both wrong…


  47. Schenectady, NY – On 3/22 we saw this around 8:00pm . We were stopped at a redlight on Carman Rd. and across the sky it went. We figured it had to be a meteor or some kind of fireworks. We saw red, yellow & green with a tail and then it was gone. We have never seen anything like it, and probably never will again. So amazing!


  48. what about unusual occurences. the larger ones dat pass buy?


  49. I caught the fireball on my home CCTV with a timestamp: 19:46:35 is when it appeared and tracked towards the east out of the camera view and lasted for 20 seconds. Pretty awesome. My camera was pointed towards the North.


  50. i saw this last night around 8 in Piscataway, NJ. I wasn’t sure what it was, until I came across this article!


  51. I saw it too. But I keep forgetting to talk with anyone about it, LOL. Iwas driving and looked up into the sky and it seemed to explode but didn’t. It traveled from right to left. I live in Hartford, CT. I was traveling south at the time.

    It was exciting but dag gonnit, I keep forgetting to talk about it. I will make a note to bring the matter up at a jazz concert Sunday at the Hartford Public Library.

    Sure will.


  52. Bill McClain says: March 24, 2013 at 12:46 am

    I also observed this fireball. RVCC Planetarium and Duke Farms held a sky watch event at the farm with several families (Hillsborough, NJ, where it went directly overhead, from WNW to ESE). Most of the group witnessed the entire path of the event. This was at about 8pm. However, as I saw noted, there was another bright meteor at 9:50 pm that moved generally W to E, also on Friday night. I observed this event from my car, while traveling home from the sky watch event. So there was indeed a 2nd bright meteor – not as bright as the 8 pm fireball, but easily seen even from the car on the highway going east into Union county, NJ.


  53. I was lucky to notice it about 8 PM , over Monsey, NY flying Northeast. Had a blue glare and sparkling TAIL. t


  54. At about 2200EDT Friday (2013 March 22) the meteor passed over West Vincent Twp in the northern part of Chester County, about 35 miles west of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. As others observed, it appeared to as vert bright fireball with a bright green (presumably from dissociation and recombination of atmospheric nitrogen?) trail, much like a bottle rocket, but silent. (Were there any records of sound detected from the meteor?) From this location the meteor trajectory was low in the northeast sky, no more than 30 or 40 degrees above the horizon at its peak, first appearing from the north-northeast and disappearing in the east-southeast. (Is there a satellite image that recorded the meteor trajectory “from above”?)


  55. Ernest Girouard says: March 24, 2013 at 8:41 am

    I too saw this impessive sight Fri. evening returning home walking my dog. As many have said it was a beautiful sight. I live in Easthampton, MA


  56. Shoreline Star says: March 24, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I just found confirmation by another witness on the meteor I mentioned that I witnessed about a week before these two were seen on 3-22-13…it seems these two were witnessed as one at about 8pm and another at about 10pm….The one I saw was on 3-16-13 and zipped across Florida as I was traveling south on I-95 at that time and it seems it is confirmed by a Mr. Stuart McDaniel out of North Carolina as He has posted a photo of it here under the photos section above…The date and time and trajectory match my sighting exactly…


  57. I saw too, i was low in the sky heading west to east in San José, Costa Rica, Central América, it was awesome.


  58. Shoreline Star says: March 24, 2013 at 1:17 pm

    I should add that if Fran is correct about the date 3-15-13 and Chris M is correct about the time on Chris M observation …It means there was a 3-15-13 sighting ..as well as the one I myself witnessed out of florida and Stuart McDaniel out of North Carolina on 3-16-13…and then the 3 witnessed on 3-22-13 at about 8pm-10pm and 12:35,12:45 am… respectively to the 3 different time frames associated with the night of 3-22-13 …actually 12:35am12:45am for Chris M observation would make it….one on 3-15-13.. one on 3-16-13…two on 3-22-13…and one on 3-23-13 for a total of 5 observed between 3-15-13 and 3-22-13…also note that these are only the ones reported,of course there may have been more that have gone unreported, as Chris M mentioned no one else reported his sighting…I feel in the Chris M observation 3-23-13 12:35am 12:45am it may have been due to the time it was observed,as this time frame it puts most observable objects in a window of time when there is a signicantly less amount of people out and about to make the sightings and report them….Kudos to Chris M !!!!


  59. I saw it from Royersford, Pa. The ball was bright orange/yellow with a pure blue tail and I saw a couple pieces break off in sporadic direction right before it dissapeared.


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  61. Gilbertsville PA….. Saw this too,, awesome! Blue and white with long trail. Thought I was having a flashback…lol


  62. I was walking to my car in Westford MA looking up at the sky and saw it, I had seen a meteor last summer that was similar in that it had a long trail that lasted for a couple of seconds but this one was much brighter and green… so cool!
    I didn’t mention it to anyone because what are the odds of being outside looking in that direction but my aunt mentioned it today so I googled it and found this site.


  63. I saw it in western MD, around the 14 mile marker. I was headed east on interstate 68 when I saw it around 8 pm or a few minutes after. I initially thought that it was a plane crashing but then realized that it was something else.


  64. Was walking my dog and was so shocked to see this fireball! I jumped because I thought it was a firework and was going to explode! Bright fiery mass with a sparkly dust trail in its wake. Definitely a sight to see!


  65. Christelle Bouchard says: March 24, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Friday, March 22, Flagler Beach FL, between 10:40 PM- 10:55, I saw a fireball (orange body) as I was looking South-West.

    christelle


  66. I was directing traffic in Chester county pa and I looked up and saw something shoot across the sky I thought it was a fire work and it never Exploded and I heard one of the cops say at the same time I did “was that a shooting star”


  67. Kathy Stratton says: March 30, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    It was in the early morning hours around 1:00 a.m. on Saturday, March 23, 2013 when I was driving in my car with my little girl and mother. I noticed a bright green falling object from the night sky in my windshield. I have never seen a fireball before, but this was the most scarey, yet exciting thing I have ever seen! I told my mother that must be a falling star and I had better make a wish! It vanished so fast that I thought it had landed somewhere close by, but I guess not. I wonder if anyone else saw that spectacular sight in Bemidji, Minnesota as we did. I will never forget what we saw.


  68. I thoroughly enjoyed this blog post


  69. I should have done this early but my memory is great this was 3rd shooting star I’ve seen in 6 months I live on long island and at about 7:45 on this date was driving north west on north wading river rd by the graveyard I saw saw something that resembled a large plane but then it suddenly blew up and the sky flashed blue it was likelighting struck that’s how bright it was it then continued to streak for aprox 1 more second


  70. I saw the meteor around 7:30-8:00. I was at a birthday party and just got home from Wolf’s 111, I stepped out of the car and I saw this huge fireball going fast across the sky, my friend thought it was a rocket ship, but we had no clue. I just researched this now because I was really wondering what it was. I was in Albany, New York.


  71. Barbara Whitman says: April 24, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    I saw what appeared to be a gigantic mint green shooting star which had a large white halo wrapping around the green glowing section. It was 7:54 PM on 3/22/2013. The shooting star appeared to move in an arching slow motion until completely fading away. It was an extraordinary and stunning sight to behold. I was standing outdoors in Flemington NJ with several other people, but no one else saw it. Glad to read all the entries here to confirm what I saw. Magnificent !


  72. I just saw one in the eastern sky while driving rt 422 from pottstown toward philadelphia pa. May 4 @ 3:10am. Thanks to this article I know what it was! Very exciting.


  73. Dennis Ward says: May 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    where would I find out about this magnetic heavy stone I found on March 23,2013 in Fall River,MA


  74. Christine says: May 27, 2013 at 12:46 am

    My husband and I saw a fireball about 2100 EDT last night, 26 May 2013, while driving near Warrenton VA. It was very bright, and moved rapidly from East to West.


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