What witnesses described as a "blue, sparking orb" prompted several calls to police in Wall and Howell before it apparently broke apart and disappeared late Sunday night, police said.

Whatever it was, it was visible for at least 35 miles and prompted a police notification to McGuire Air Force Base.

Bob Hampton of Ocean Township said he was driving on the New Jersey Turnpike near Kearny when he saw the blue-white object streak across the sky traveling from east to west. He spotted it about the same time some Howell residents thought it settled in the woods near Fort Plains Road.

"It was the brightest thing I remember seeing in the night sky," Hampton said. "It just seemed like it threw a lot of sparks, and then I thought it just broke up."

Now, if this seems like the beginning of some B-grade sci-fi movie, forget it.

Experts suspect the fiery visitor was not of this Earth, but added it was probably not the vanguard of an alien invasion either.

It was most likely a meteor, hitting the Earth's atmosphere at about 20,000 mph, said Louis J. Kijewski, a physicist at Monmouth University, whose academic credentials include teaching astronomy. Probably just a big meteor that had a dramatic burnout, he said.

That would check with the observations of witnesses like Hampton and the people who called police to report the event.

Howell police sent a patrol officer to check the area around Fort Plains Road, after several callers said they believed the sparking ball had set down, police Capt. Steven Dreher said.

"We didn't find anything, but we did get several calls," Dreher said.

According to the American Meteor Society, a group that observes and charts meteor activity, August is a month that is characterized by frequent meteor activity, most notably the Perseid meteor showers that streak the night skies in early August.

In addition, the clear skies on Sunday also enhanced visibility, the National Weather Service said.

So, the sparking intruder was probably nothing more than a meteor burning up in our atmosphere or maybe some space junk meeting a similar fate, Kijewski said.