The American Meteor Society recorded over 150 reports of a daylight fireball event on Wednesday, December 2, 2020 around noon, in states ranging from Virginia to New York. The event was mainly seen in upstate New York, but reports came in from Maryland and Virginia also.

Credit: American Meteor Society / American Meteor Society

Dozen of people contacted local media area about a loud boom heard at the time of the event in central New York. When a very bright fireball penetrates to the stratosphere, below an altitude of about 30 miles (50 km), and explodes as a bolide, there is a chance that sonic booms may be heard on the ground below. NASA’s analysis of the event shown that the parent meteoroid at the origin of the event entered Earth’s atmosphere over upper New York, between Rochester and Syracuse. Traveling westward at 56,000 miles per hour (90,000 km/h), it broke into pieces at an altitude of approximately 22 miles (35 km), producing a bright flash reported by the public and caught in videos.

The bolide was detected by the Geostationary Lightning Mapper onboard the GOES 16 weather satellite. The ground track of the event computed by NASA shows that the fireball was traveling from North East to South West and ended its visible flight somewhere over Cayuga Lake, NY.

Several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day. The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight. Those that occur at night also stand little chance of being detected due to the relatively low numbers of persons out to notice them.

Additionally, the brighter the fireball, the rarer is the event. As a general thumb rule, there are only about 1/3 as many fireballs present for each successively brighter magnitude class, following an exponential decrease. Experienced observers can expect to see only about 1 fireball of magnitude -6 or better for every 200 hours of meteor observing, while a fireball of magnitude -4 can be expected about once every 20 hours or so.

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David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

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