Local eyewitnesses describe seeing meteor streak across night sky

Eric, a NewsChannel 15 viewer, sent in video of a likely meteor. This image taken from video shows a fire ball entering the sky from a camera positioned in Woodburn.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – First it lit up the sky, then it lit up the web.

Thousands of people reported seeing a bright ball of light fly through the night sky Tuesday. Now scientists say it was a meteor that came down in Detroit.

Bill Cooke with NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office told The Detroit News Wednesday morning it was “definitely a meteoroid” and a rare sight for Michigan.

People across the region, including in northeast Indiana, witnessed the natural phenomenon. Other states where people reported seeing a fireball included Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri.

Accounts of the meteor sightings started around 8:30 p.m.

Katie Ayers said she was with her family when she saw the meteor streak across the sky.

“I look up and I see this crazy bright light, and it’s a ball with white light and purples and greens and blues around it with a really long purple tail,” Ayers described.

Gene Stringer is the secretary at the Fort Wayne Astronomical society. He said none of their equipment at the Star*Quest Observatory in New Haven is meant to capture meteors because of their unpredictability.

However, he explained what Ayers saw was a special meteor called a “Bolide” or “fireball.”

“It looked to me to be a definite fireball, that probably extinguished before anything hit the ground,” Stringer said.

Scientists in Detroit confirmed nothing reached the ground, but the sonic boom from the rock entering the atmosphere registered as a 2.0 on the Richter scale.

A NASA account tweeted data from the GOES16 satellite that may have also caught the meteor entering earth’s atmosphere.

It didn’t create any real damage but Stringer said it could have if the object was bigger. 

“Some of the things that have made it to the ground are rather huge, and have caused some catastrophic things,” Stringer explained.

The physical impact of this meteor was minor, but the buzz it created around the region was anything but. Ayers said it even made her feel a little crazy.

“After it landed, it was just so surreal, it felt like little green men were going to come up to the windows or something,” Ayers said as she laughed.

But on a more serious note, she did say she was concerned for her safety for a moment, given the current tensions around the world.

“With what was going on in Hawaii and things, for a second, you did think, ‘Is it a bomb? Is it a missile?'” Ayers said. “I mean there was that hot second where I thought maybe something was going on.”

It turned out to be just a natural event, but with the rarity of a meteor that size and brightness, it’s sure to stick in people’s minds.