meteor March 21, 2021

Screenshot from Nest video of a meteor spotted across the East Coast on March 21, 2021.

Did you see it? NASA Meteor Watch says a very bright fireball was spotted across the East Coast around 12:26 a.m. Sunday morning.

Gainesville resident Debbie Justice captured video on her Nest camera showing a blue fireball streaking downward.

Meteor in Gainesville, Va., March 21, 2021. 

The meteor was also detected by three meteor cameras belonging to the NASA Fireball Network and two cameras of the Southern Ontario Meteor Network, NASA said.

"A quick analysis of the best set of video data from these systems shows that the object first became visible 55 miles (88 kilometers) above the town of Greenstone, near the Pennsylvania/Maryland border," NASA noted. "Moving northwest at 51,000 miles per hour (23 kilometers per second), the fireball traversed 38 miles (61 kilometers) through the atmosphere before fragmenting 28 miles (45 kilometers) above the Pennsylvania town of Newburg."

The American Meteor Society recorded more than 75 sightings of the meteor early Sunday, with at least half a dozen reports coming from Culpeper, Alexandria, Ashburn, Arlington and other parts of Northern Virginia. Observers described the fireball as white or light blue with a bright tail.

"It was fast and the tail was short," one Purcellville resident wrote. "Maybe a second of white light then it was gone."

According to the society, fireballs are very bright meteors, about as bright as Venus in the morning and evening skies.

About 10 to 15 meteorites fall to Earth each day, but sightings are rare since streaking fireballs often fall over the ocean, or during daylight hours when they can't be seen.


Meteor image captured by NASA

NASA says the orbit and brightness of the meteor (roughly that of the gibbous moon) indicate that the fireball was caused by an asteroidal fragment weighing 7 pounds (3 kilograms) and about 5 inches (13 centimeters) in diameter.


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