meteor fireball over US Midwest
© Google maps/AMS (screen capture)
The American Meteor Society (AMS) received 145 reports about a fireball seen over OH, IL, WI, MI, IN, IA, PA and Ontario on Sunday, January 8th 2017 around 11:15 UT.
Dave Behnke wasn't prepared for what he saw in the sky before dawn on Sunday.

Neither was his dog, Harvey, who had insisted they go outside at such an early hour to begin with.

"He started barking, looking up and going crazy," said Behnke, who lives in Lansing Township. "I said, 'what the hell?' And then he started cowering. I looked up, and I was thinking, 'did I just see something or not?'"

The object was "about the size of a VW wagon," Behnke said. It was changing colors and moving from north to south. He thought it was only about 100 feet above the trees.

What they saw was a bright meteor known as a fireball. And lots of other people saw it, too.

The American Meteor Society received 145 reports of a fireball seen over seven states and Ontario, Canada around 6:15 a.m. Sunday. Observers from all over southern Michigan, including East Lansing, Laingsburg, Charlotte and Webberville, logged sightings on the AMS website.

"I was on my way to work when I saw what I initially thought was a low flying plane behind a tree," an East Lansing resident wrote. "However, when I moved past the tree I saw the object. It was very bright and seemed to be very close."

AMS is a non-profit scientific organization founded in 1911. It recorded 3,778 fireball events in the U.S. last year, including 173 in Michigan, according to its website.

In February 2016, about 160 people reported seeing a fireball over Wisconsin and west Michigan, according to published reports. A fireball also was seen over the western part of the state on Dec. 26, 2016.

The meteor society archives fireball reports for study purposes and shares them with the public and other organizations. You can find its website at

Behnke said he was glad to hear that other people saw the fireball on Sunday morning, too. His dog hasn't been the same since, he said.

"Harvey, he was upset for the next couple of days," he said. "He's been traumatized."