- The meteor seen in West Virginia and eastward on May 29, around 11 p.m., was at least as bright as this fireball in Oklahoma's Black Mesa State Park in Sept. 2008. (Howard Edin / Oklahoma City Astronomy Club)
Anybody find a meteorite on the ground Sunday? If so, there are some people who want to talk to you.
Not the Men in Black… probably. These are “Lunar Meteorite Hunters,” something like storm chasers but with space weather. They have collected a slew of fascinating descriptions of a hissing, glowing, jade-colored meteor of immense proportions flying over the D.C. region on Sunday around 11:00 p.m. Many people claimed it was the most intense falling star they had ever seen. (A different large fireball crested over New England the same night at about 9 p.m.) The flaming trail it left behind was visible from West Virginia to Fairfax and beyond. A prolonged rumble after it disappeared from view suggests it made impact and might be dug into the ground somewhere. Weekend hikers and campers: Keep your eyes peeled for blast craters, especially if you live in Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania or Ohio.
Here are some of the sightings that were sent to the Meteorite Hunter website and to the American Meteor Society:
Smoke Hole, W.V.: We were camping under trees the light lit up the campground, no street lights or electricity nearby lasted a second and a half went from greenish blue to a fireball yellow burn the width of the fireball was the size of 3 moons the tail was twice as long as that 2 minutes later we heard a prolonged grumbling boom that last for 3 or 4 seconds was extremely frightening and we had no radio, mobile phones or internet connection.
Arlington: Amazing! My finance and I were driving past the Pentagon in Arlington when we saw a slow moving green dot heading toward the horizon. Considering our location, we were immediately concerned it was something military or terrorist in nature. It descended all the way to the horizon, possible impacting at Ft Meyer or Arlington Cemetery, but we didn't hear or see the impact. We both saw it clearly, and couldn't believe what we just saw.
Belva, W.V.: Extremely large, blue light moving in a linear path at a high rate of speed. The central ball was about the size of a full moon and the blue light surrounded it lit up the whole sky. Appeared as if it was going to hit the mountainside. "I actually braced myself for impact." Very eerie... can't get rid of the goosebumps.
Kile Knob, W.V.: At 11:03 p.m. EDT two of us saw the brightest bolide, or fireball, either has ever seen. It lit the area as if with bright green daylight -- many times brighter than a full moon. A rough estimate would be mag -14 or -15. After a 2 or 3 of minutes we heard a distant rumbling boom sound…. It traveled from east to west with a peak altitude high in the northern sky. This pretty much rules out being space junk as most non-polar-orbiting satellites travel from west to east.
Montrose, W.V.: I heard a series of 3 explosions over a period of 10 seconds after it disappeared. The first two came about 6 seconds after it disappeared and then the third occurred shortly after. They seemed like distant thunder or even fireworks, but there were none before or after this time anywhere in my area.
Shinnston, W.V.: I was watching a movie at the drive-in and noticed the whole sky lit up like it was daylight. I looked back over my shoulder and noticed what appeared be a meteor. To me it looked like it was going up and then it started falling back down. It was bright green and falling very fast and was very, very bright.
Dry Fork, W.V.: When the flash occurred it was as though a spotlight had been shined upon where I was sitting and the whole hillside lit up as if it was daylight. There was fragmentation all along the fireball as it went overhead. The fireball had a glowing train with fragments shooting off of the side. The body of the fireball was in three pieces that appeared to be deteriorating before it burnt out. There was a smoky white train after the main body/tail passed overhead.
Spruce Knob Lake Campground, W.V.: From the rough campground layout, the fireball traveled roughly north and lasted approximately 2 seconds once we saw it. It was greenish blue with some orange in the trail. A hissing sound accompanied the visual sighting of the fireball meteor. A few minutes afterwards, we heard a loud and distant explosion that rumbled and echoed for a few seconds off in what I would guess was a north easterly direction from the campground. Brightness was Venus or brighter.
Northampton, Pa.: Last night I was letting my dog out back and I looked up and saw a bright yellow fireball about a 1/2" in diameter moving at a quick pace directly over my house. I ran inside as it passed overhead, to go out front to continue viewing and it was still burning bright like the sun heading from south to north before it fizzled out in the north. The total event lasted about 20-25 seconds.