Meteor Path
© NASA/MSFC/Bill Cooke
This map shows the meteor's path across middle Alabama on Nov. 10, 2013.
Huntsville - NASA says the fireball that streaked across Alabama Sunday night was a piece of a comet about as wide as a can of soda. The comet was caught on four of NASA's sky watch cameras about 7:22 p.m. CT.

"It was picked up at an altitude of 55 miles moving east of south at 51,000 miles per hour," Dr. Bill Cooke, director of NASA's Meteoroid Environments Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, said today in an email. "It burned up at an altitude of 27 miles just south of Anniston."

Based on the "light curve" created by the fragment's passing, Cooke said it was "about 2.5 inches across and weighed about 5 ounces. It was six times brighter than Venus at its peak."

The cameras that spotted the fragment were in Huntsville and three towns in Georgia: Chickamauga, Cartersville and Dahlonega.

The fireball was not a part of the Taurid meteors the Earth usually encounters in November, Cooke said, but rather a "Jupiter family comet" - called that because their "aphelia," or furthest points from the Sun, are near the planet Jupiter.

"They generally take less than 20 years to complete and orbit (of the sun);" Cooke said. "Our visitor took about 4.7 years to go around the sun."