Bay Area sees meteor flash overhead

People in the San Francisco Bay Area say they saw a meteor flash overhead Friday night around 7:40 p.m.
February 15, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
On the heels of a close fly-by of an asteroid 17,000 miles from Earth earlier today and a devastating meteor that landed in Russia, Bay Area stargazers caught a glimpse of another meteor over the Peninsula tonight.

Social media users reported seeing the blue flash of the meteor at about 8 p.m. tonight, and sightings were reported throughout the Bay Area, from Santa Clara to Fairfield, and even in the Central Valley cities of Fresno and Stockton.

Gerald McKeegan, an astronomer with the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, was at the center tonight for its weekend stargazing sessions with free access to the center's large telescopes, but he said they did not spot the meteor there.

He said that the center has been receiving phone calls from people who reported seeing the meteor flying west this evening.

Based on reports, he said that it seems it was what astronomers call a "sporadic meteor," an event that can happen several times a day but most of the time happens over the ocean, away from human eyes, and brings as much as 15,000 tons of space debris to Earth each year.

Meteors, hunks of rock and metal from space that fall to Earth, burn up as they go through Earth's atmosphere, which is what apparently caused tonight's bright flash of light, McKeegan said.

It was likely smaller than another meteor that landed in the Bay Area in October, which caused a loud sonic boom as it fell, breaking apart and spreading rocks, called meteorites, in the North Bay, McKeegan said.


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