AUSTIN (KXAN) — A meteor so bright it stunned Central Texans who witnessed it at 9:22 p.m. Thursday. The streaking space debris was spotted across Texas and in adjacent states.
A number of witnesses from western Travis County to Kyle in Hays County also reported a sonic boom, with some saying it rattled their windows.
Meteors that are brighter than planets in the night sky are called fireballs. This one clearly was, as some reported the entire sky lighting up as the green, light yellow and white object streaked across the Texas sky.
In north Texas, some reported seeing the meteor break up into streaking orange fragments. Meteors usually burn up and disintegrate 30-60 miles above earth, explaining how a bright one can be seen from such great distances.
What the meteoroid was is unknown. It may have been a piece of rock from an asteroid that has been orbiting the sun for millions of years. Or, a piece of space junk left by humans orbiting the earth. It likely was no bigger than a marble, but might have been as big as a basketball.
It also may have been a piece of the comet 55-P/Tempel-Tuttle. The earth moves through that debris field every year in mid-November, creating the well known Leonid meteor shower. This year’s peak is midnight to dawn Saturday and Sunday.
KXAN viewers from Austin and all surrounding counties reported seeing the meteor flash. Charissa Giles told KXAN, “feeling the sonic boom from a huge meteor, it lit up the whole sky in the area of Granada Hills in Southwest Austin, Hamilton Pool road/RR12, and Wimberley.”
Carol Shepard e-mailed from near Fredericksburg, “my son and a hunting buddy were all excited about the ‘biggest shooting star’ they’d ever seen!”