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Daylight Meteor Shakes Up El Paso

<i> From Associated Press</i>

A meteor flashing across the sky Thursday sent a ripple of fear through West Texas, where alarmed residents flooded police lines with reports of an explosion, a shuddering boom and a burst of smoke.

Many whose homes shook feared it was a plane crash.

The meteor appeared at 12:47 p.m. CDT as a streak about as bright as the surface of a setting sun, said Robert Simpson, a spokesman for University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory. Sightings also were reported in New Mexico.

“It was like a chunk of the sun had fallen off and was heading toward the Earth. It might be golf-ball size at best or larger,” said Simpson, who saw it from his home near Fort Davis, 175 miles southeast of El Paso.

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A police helicopter flying about 25 miles east of the city spotted about an acre of scorched land that authorities believe might be the area where the meteor hit, police spokesman Bill Pfeil said.

It was not clear if any fragments were found.

Simpson said the reports from throughout the El Paso area were all consistent with a daytime meteor, also known as a fireball or bolide.

“It shook the whole damn neighborhood,” said Tom Tyra, a Horizon City resident. “Everybody came out of their house.”

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When he went outside to investigate the noise, he saw a cloud of smoke about 3,000 feet in the air.

While some saw a flash of light, others heard only the boom or what sounded like debris raining down on their roofs, though there was nothing to be found on the ground.

A meteor is the streak of light that occurs when a meteoroid, a chunk of stony or metallic matter, enters the Earth’s atmosphere from space. Friction with the air causes the meteoroid to heat up, creating a glow and leaving a trail of glowing gases.


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