Meteor Showers

Why am I always at work when something like this happens? If you go to the article site there are links to pictures from the observatory.

The flash of what may have been a meteor over Madison, Wis., about 10 p.m. Wednesday night, as seen from a weather observatory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences photo)

What was believed to have been a large meteor streaked over northern Illinois and other Midwestern states Wednesday night.

Reports of meteor sightings about 10 p.m. Wednesday came in to the National Weather Service from wide areas across the Midwest, including Wisconsin and eastern Iowa, said Nathan Marsili, a meteorologist with the weather service’s Chicago-area office. News outlets from Missouri to Minnesota and east to Michigan reported sightings, and some reports indicated the light could have come from space junk entering the atmosphere rather than a meteor.

According to the weather service’s Milwaukee office, officials there, in La Crosse, Wis., Davenport and Des Moines, Iowa, and in St. Louis and Kansas City, Mo. received “numerous reports of a fireball” about the same time people began contacting Milwaukee-area officials about the flare.

National Weather Service radar in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, showed the object between 6,000 and 12,000 feet, heading from northwest to southeast over Grant and Iowa counties.

(The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences has a series of time lapse photos of the event as seen from Madison; an Iowa sheriff’s department captured video of the flash that’s been posted on YouTube.)

Although there has been no official determination of what caused the fireball, a meteor shower
called the Gamma Virginids began April 4 and is expected to last through April 21, according to the weather service, with peak activity Wednesday and today.

In a statement on its Web site, the National Weather Service office in the Quad Cities said:
“Just after 10 pm CDT Wednesday evening April 14th, a fireball or very bright meteor was observed streaking across the sky. The fireball was seen over the northern sky, moving from west to east.

“Well before it reached the horizon, it broke up into smaller pieces and was lost from sight. The fireball was seen across Northern Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Southern Wisconsin. Several reports of a prolonged sonic boom were received from areas north of Highway 20, along with shaking of homes, trees and various other objects including wind chimes. As of late Wednesday evening, it is unknown whether any portion of this meteorite hit the ground.”

One resident of Woodstock also contacted the Tribune to say she had seen what looked like a meteor or large shooting star about 10:15 p.m.

It looked like an “enormous ball of light entering [the] atmosphere in the northwestern sky, fading and leaving a trail as it fell towards the horizon,” said Christine McMorris, in an e-mail.

Liam Ford

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