Midwest fireball ignites buzz

9:15 AM, Sep 27, 2013   |    comments
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ALLENDALE, Mich. (WZZM) -- A fireball, aliens, or an airplane-- those were some of the dozens of comments on the WZZM 13 Facebook page Thursday morning after an explosion of light in the sky.

The American Meteor Society website has been bombarded with reports from across the Midwest and even sightings in the south.

From NASA video, a quick blip of light can be seen that had people talking for hours. Hundreds of reports were posted on the American Meteor Society website, from Indiana to Michigan, and even Tennessee.

"20 miles high, they can be seen a long way away, several states," says Doug Furton, a physics professor at Grand Valley State University.

Furton answer some of the dozens of comments and questions on the WZZM 13 Facebook page. One person asked why there were so many different colors.

"If it has different minerals in it, when it's all incinerated in Earth's atmosphere they light up in different colors," explains Furton.

Others on the page made references to an alien invasion. There were even some reports of a possible plane on fire in Newaygo County and firefighters were sent to make sure everything was OK.

Despite the spectacle it caused, Furton says meteors are actually quite common. "One to two thousand meteorites fall to Earth everyday," says Furton. "Most of Earth's surface is covered in water and that which isn't is often uninhabited."

By time they hit earth, Furton says they're usually quite small. "They range in size from tiny little pebbles, sand grain size, to car or even house size chunks of rocks," says Furton.

However, Furton says there is no cause for alarm. "If you are having an incredibly bad day, I guess it's possible you could be hit by a meteor that made it to Earth," says Furton.

Furton says he wouldn't be surprised if so called meteorite hunters start to show up in Indiana to collect pieces of whatever is left.


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