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VIDEO: Massive Fireball Streaks Past East Coast, Generates Loud 'Sonic Boom'

Oct 07, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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Hundreds of people reported seeing the magnificently large fireball streak across the night sky throughout the east coast. The mystery simultaneously awed, baffled and scared witnesses, some of whom who feared a plane crash or something similarly dangerous.

According to a report from Washington Post, the fireball was said to have been seen in Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Michigan, Maryland, the District and Virginia. The American Meteor Society revealed that they fielded over 280 reports from people who actually saw the mysterious object.

Mike Hankey, operations manager for the American Meteor Society, called it one of the "top 10 events of the year", at least when it comes to the volume of received reports from civilians. He added that the time of its appearance was at the perfect time - around 10:30 p.m. - with the skies already dark, but a lot of people were still awake and outside their houses.

"What struck me is that people from Canada to Southern Maryland saw it," Hankey said. "That means it was pretty bright."

Aside from the sight of the fireball, people also reported hearing a loud boom or "sonic boom". Hankey pointed out, "To have that echoing sound means it has to get pretty close to the surface. It penetrated the Earth's atmosphere deep enough to create a sonic boom."

Of course, the question is ultimately about the origin of the fireball. The truth is even Hankey and his colleagues aren't completely sure. It's likely an asteroid or a broken off piece of a comet. While meteorites often melt upon its descent, a sonic boom usually means a section survived and possibly made it to the surface of the planet.

A report from the Sputnik News revealed that the massive fireball seemed so big and so close that many panicked at the sight. People initially believed the sonic boom indicated a plane crash.

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