Brilliant Fireball Streaks Over U.S.

A brilliant, bright-green meteor blazed through the sky just north of Milwaukee, in U.S., early in the morning of Feb. 6

fireball milwaukee meteor meteorite

Credit: Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) and Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The meteor streaked across the sky around 1:25 a.m., and likely landed in the Lake Michigan, according to American Meteor Society (AMS) operations manager Mike Hankey. He said the rock likely was the size of a minivan.

The falling space rock likely burned up in the sky about 10 to 20 miles (16 to 32 kilometers) north of Milwaukee, or about 100 miles (160 km) north of Chicago, according to the AMS.

“We got over 200 eyewitness reports, and they give us the directions where they saw it, and from that we can triangulate everyone’s report,” Hankey said.

Most of the eye-witness reports came from people in and around Chicago and Milwaukee, but reports have also come in from witnesses in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Iowa, New York, Kentucky, Minnesota and Ontario, according to the AMS website.

Based on radar data, it is likely that bits of the meteor reached the ground (these are called meteorites), Hankey said. However, the space rocks would have been sprinkled over Lake Michigan, which means they can’t be collected for study, he added.

A meteor large enough to leave meteorites on the ground typically flies over the U.S. about three or four times per year, Hankey said.

The meteor also might have been spotted via radar by the National Weather Service’s Milwaukee office. The office tweeted a radar picture showing the possible location of the meteor over Lake Michigan at 1:31 a.m. CST (0731 GMT). Sarah Marquardt, a meteorologist at the Milwaukee office, told that the radar instruments likely identified the space rock as it broke up into very small pieces. The radar instruments are designed to detect primarily water droplets, but the radar showed that the object or objects in that area were not made of ice or water, she said.

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