Sarah N. Mattero
Wed, 29 Aug 2012 05:57 CDT
New Englanders were treated to a celestial light show Monday night when an apparent meteor blasted past them.
Multiple reports from people in Massachusetts and Maine, posted on the American Meteor Society website, described a large, bright object traveling slowly across the sky between 9 and 10 p.m., leaving a trail behind it before abruptly vanishing.
The observers described the meteor as a brightly colored object. Such meteors - also known as fireballs - can vary in color, depending on the different elements, like sodium and magnesium, vaporizing within them, said Mike Hankey, operations manager of the meteor society, in an e-mail.
"Based on the witness reports, it looks like the fireball was headed mostly west to east and probably ended somewhere over the ocean," Hankey said.
A report submitted by a Peabody resident said the fireball seemed to move very slowly, with a "white/red" tint at first that changed to a "heavy greenish color."
"As it was traveling away from me toward the Salem, Massachusetts, direction, it seemed to have turned more blue," the Peabody resident said.
Hankey said the object probably was a bolide fireball, which the society defines as "a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation."
Another witness, from Bristol, Maine, said the fireball looked "like it divided in two at the end when it burned up and vanished."
Hankey said the fireball may have landed in the Gulf of Maine area.