Fireball — maybe a South Taurid meteor — spotted across western U.S.


A bright light that appeared to be a large fireball or meteor streaked over Southern California on Wednesday night and was spotted as far away as Utah and Nevada.

The American Meteor Society said on its blog Thursday that it received 156 reports of sightings from Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah.

“It was an amazing sight! Not the average shooting star,” said one observer in Phoenix, identified as Kenia J. on the society’s website.


“It was awesome!!!!!!!!” wrote Alexander H. from St. George, Utah.

“I was a little startled but awed by it,” reported Rachel V. from Long Beach.

The witnesses described seeing the fireball around 7:50 p.m.

According to Vincent Perlerin writing on the meteor society’s website, an initial trajectory “shows the meteor entered over San Diego County and flew on a southwest trajectory, ending somewhere near Lake Henshaw.”

Mike Hankey, operations manager at the society, said what people saw was probably a piece of an asteroid “and it collided with the Earth [atomsphere] and when that happens, the phenomenon of a fireball will happen.”

Or, it could have been a comet, Hankey said.

While there are fireballs every day somewhere in the world -- and an average of five or six large fireballs are reported in the U.S. each month -- “for you to see one, you might see it once in your lifetime, if that.”

The National Weather Service said the flashes and bright lights reported across Central and Southern California were long-lasting meteor streams from the annual South Taurids meteor shower.

The Taurids are known for having exceptionally bright meteors. On Wednesday night, people used Twitter to describe bright lights and fireballs in the sky.

Mary Slosson said she driving eastbound on the 10 Freeway when saw a “flareup” that “looked like something burning up upon entry into atmosphere” over the Culver City area.

The flash of light caused drivers to hit their brakes and swerve to catch a glimpse, Slosson said.

Another person in Hollywood said he saw what appeared to be a “pretty substantial fireball in the sky.”


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