Valdosta - A meteorite or space debris may have been the cause of fireballs reportedly seen in South Georgia skies Friday night and the resulting impact felt from one end of Lowndes County to the other.

Meanwhile, similar reports of fireballs were filed throughout the state and in other states, according to the American Meteor Society.

The Lowndes County 911 Center reported Saturday that an exact cause of the phenomenon was never located. Authorities received several calls Friday night reporting debris landing in specific regions, but nothing was ever located.

Moody Air Force Base reported no sonic booms, an effect caused when an aircraft breaks the sound barrier, and no downed planes.

The reports started at approximately 10 p.m. Friday. Authorities continued responding to related calls reportedly past midnight.

Officials believe space debris may have been the cause of the disturbance, said Paige Dukes, Lowndes County public information officer.

The majority of 911 calls came from south Lowndes County as people reported seeing either a fiery object or fiery objects falling from the skies. People also reported a "boom" or series of "booms" rattling windows and shaking houses.

Some people reported sounds similar to tapping on their windows, a pounding on doors, or a limb falling on a roof.

These lights and booms were not isolated to south Lowndes County. Authorities also received reports up through north Lowndes County. On Facebook, posters reported seeing the lights in Albany, feeling the impact in Cook and Echols counties.

Yet, the reports of a fireball Friday night were not simply a South Georgia occurrence. The American Meteor Society clocked numerous reports of a fireball seen through Georgia, Florida, Alabama and the

Carolinas. These accounts all occurred within a 15-minute period from 10-10:15 p.m. Friday throughout all of these states.

The society website includes reports from the sightings in Valdosta and Ray City.

"Night time so didn't see smoke however the fire ... trail was the most impressive thing I've ever seen," wrote the unidentified Ray City observer. "The head was white, followed by red and yellow edges and tail. - 10 seconds after pass over we heard a 'sonic' boom."

A Valdosta resident wrote on the Society site: "My gaze was first drawn to the sky by fast, white ... flashing which I mistook for lightning reflected off the trees/ground/house next to me, even though I knew there was zero cloud cover and lightning was highly improbable. I immediately looked straight up. My initial impression on seeing this fireball was that I was seeing a stray firework that had never exploded and was errantly shooting over me ... I doubted that this was a real meteor until I heard a boom several seconds later. ... It did not sound like it came from the sky, but rather from a point on the eastern horizon past my line of sight (and also obstructed from my view). ..."

Another Valdosta witness posted on the AMS site: "... was very bright and much larger than any other shower I have ever witnessed, by far the largest and brightest I've ever seen. It disappeared in the atmosphere so that leads me to believe it was a fireball. Hard to describe, happened so fast. The body I know was orange and white. Only noticed it because I could see blue lights reflected off the back of my car and I thought it was police lights and looked up and saw it. Still not too sure if that's what it was though."

Dr. Martha Leake, a Valdosta State University professor who teaches astronomy and earned her doctorate in planetary sciences, said the phenomenon could possibly be a meteorite or space debris.

A bolide sometimes does explode upon entering the atmosphere and looks like it is burning, she said. A bolide is a meteor-type that is often considered synonymous with "fireball;" usually this term is used for a very bright fireball.

Or it could have been space debris, a term referring to orbiting human-created items that no longer serve any purpose. These items occasionally return to earth.

Space debris usually appears as a burning trail of objects coming through the atmosphere, the VSU professor said.

This week, from May 4-8, a meteor shower should be clearly visible in South Georgia's sky during the early morning hours, but that may have no connection as a possible cause for Friday night's occurrence.

She is merely speculating on possibilities based on reports given to her by The Times. Leake was unaware of the reports until The Times called her Saturday afternoon.

However, at approximately 10 p.m. Friday, she heard what sounded like a tree limb landing on her roof. But like so many other people who heard something Friday night, she found everything secure while the cause of the impact remained unexplained.