SCOTTSDALE - Stanley Fosha is looking for what woke him early Wednesday morning with a giant flash of white light and a thunderous boom.

The sky erupted around 2:15 a.m. near his home at 56th Street and Pinnacle Vista Road in Scottsdale, he said.

"I seriously thought someone was in my back yard taking a picture," Fosha said. "It sounded like someone taking a sledgehammer and banging a big metal drum."

Worried he imagined the light, Fosha asked his neighbor Tami Biggs about it the next day.

Biggs said she saw it, too.

"I was outside saying goodbye to some friends. It was a big, bright light and a loud bang," said Biggs, who lives two doors away from Fosha. "It certainly caught our attention."

So what exactly was this unidentified burning object?

A bolide, predicts Prof. Jeff Hester with the Arizona State University School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Bolides, or large meteoritic fireballs descending from the sky, are known to hit ground on occasion, Hester said.

In fact, he has seen a few himself.

"They are just spectacular, remarkable things," Hester said. "They can literally explode."

And this bolide made its entrance just days before the annual Perseid shower is expected to peak.

Hester said it is on Sunday this year.

Though likely not as large as Fosha's sighting, the meteors should be pretty plentiful, he said. And with a new moon on Sunday, it also should be a pretty clear show.

The shower, best viewed after 11 p.m. and before dawn, boasts its greatest activity between August 8 and 14, he said.

The key is getting away from city lights, Hester said.

"Then you just lay back and let your eyes adapt to the dark and relax," he said. "You might see as many, on average, as every minute or so."

The Perseids are dubbed after the constellation Perseus, where most of them appear to originate, he said.

They are remnants of a debris path left by the comet Swift-Tuttle.

"You get a meteor shower when the earth passes through these debris paths," Hester said. "When comets come in close to the sun, the sun causes the surface to sublime and a bunch of dust is blown off into interplanetary space."

Don't expect to see the comet anytime soon. Swift-Tuttle only shows up once every 133 years, Hester said.