California Meteor Lights up Southern California Sky

Thursday, 07 Nov 2013 03:01 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A California meteor streaked across the sky Wednesday night, triggering a flood of 911 calls from residents who reported seeing a fireball that lit up the night sky.

When asked what it was, meteorologists from the North American Aerospace Defense Command's weather department could not definitively say it was a meteor, describing it as most likely part of a larger meteor shower, CNN reported.

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"We've gotten numerous phone calls of people reporting seeing something brigh — consistent with a meteor shower — over the eastern desert communities of San Diego," Lt. Michael Munsey of the San Diego Sheriff's Department told CNN.

Though the sightings were concentrated in Southern California, residents as far away as Arizona, Utah, and Las Vegas also witnessed the meteor, CNN affiliate KCBS reported.

"I saw this big, greenish flash like, light up the sky. It was headed pretty sideways from ... east to west," witness Matthew Isaacs told KCBS. "I thought, 'Is that a firework?' And then I realized, that couldn't be that big. It's just in the middle of nowhere in a totally dark area where there's no houses or anything where anyone would shoot fireworks. I thought, 'Man, it must have been a meteor.'"

According to the American Meteor Society, the fireball likely emanated from the South Taurids meteor showers, which have been extremely active at the start of the month.

In February, a 10,000-ton meteor exploded over Russia's Ural Mountains, injuring more than 1,500 people in the industrial city of Chelyabinsk. A blinding light followed the explosion, and a shockwave and clouds of debris that swept through the city.

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According to scientists, it was the largest space rock to hit the Earth's surface in more than a hundred years.

There have been several less severe meteor showers that have occurred closer to home in recent months, including August's annual Perseid meteor shower, and a baseball-sized meteor exploding over the southeastern United States in early September.

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