Just before 5 a.m. Tuesday morning, early risers in the Pittsburgh area were treated to a shining surprise: A fiery meteor shooting across the darkened sky at 45,000 miles per hour.
"Suddenly it became like daylight outside," said Pennsylvania resident Dawn Grenade in a posting on the website of the American Meteor Society. As she was commuting to work she caught a glimpse of "a red fireball with a blue flame" behind it.
Other commenters described a similar sight. "It was very bright with a tail about 1/4th of the sky from the south to the north," wrote Dave Woodcox, who spotted the meteor while clearing snow from his driveway. "The object was orange/yellow in hue, but the tail was white and was the brightest part. The tail appeared like a magnesium fire, bright and white lighting my [w]hole neighborhood."
The AMS received 30 eye witness reports from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and New York. Some witnesses around Pittsburgh reported hearing a delayed boom shortly after seeing the fireball. One person commented on the AMS website that it sounded like a transformer blew.
The dramatic flourish was captured on film by the NASA All Sky Fireball Network. NASA said the rock was about two feet in diameter and weighted roughly 500 pounds.
CBS Pittsburgh reported that the space rock entered Earth's atmosphere 60 miles above Beaver Falls, northwest of Pittsburgh, and the camera lost track of it about 40 miles west of there, where it is believed some fragments of the meteor fell.