Very bright fireball over Pennsylvania, U.S.

Very bright fireball over Pennsylvania, U.S.

A very bright fireball was recorded over Pennsylvania, U.S. at around 04:25 UTC (00:25 EDT) on March 21, 2021.

The American Meteor Society (AMS) received 263 reports, mostly from Pennsylvania, but users from Connecticut, Washington DC, Delaware, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Ontario and Québec, Canada also reported seeing the event.

The meteor was also detected by 3 meteor cameras belonging to the NASA Fireball Network and 2 cameras of the Southern Ontario Meteor Network.

Pennsylvania fireball March 21, 2021 heatmap. Credit: AMS

A quick analysis of the best set of video data shows that the object first became visible 88 km (55 miles) above the town of Greenstone, near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border, according to NASA Meteor Watch.

The object traversed about 61 km (38 miles), moving NW at 23 km/s (51 000 mph) before fragmenting about 45 km (28 miles) above the Pennsylvania town of Newburg.

The orbit of the object and the brightness of the event (roughly that of the gibbous Moon) indicate that the fireball was caused by an asteroidal fragment weighing 3 kg (7 pounds) and about 13 cm (5 inches) in diameter.

The end flare of the fireball was detected (barely) by the Geostationary Lightning Mapper on GOES-16.

Featured image © Nathan Lis

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