Mysterious Lights Over Western Skies
"Did you see it? What was that?"



 
Mysterious Lights Over Western Skies - Sept 14th, 2011
"Did you see it? What was that?"

(CNN) –– What exactly was seen in the skies across the Southwestern U.S. Wednesday night? Was it a meteor, a falling satellite or, perhaps, something more mysterious?

A streak of light that some are describing as a fireball, was seen shooting across the night sky and law enforcement and media from Phoenix to Los Angeles to Las Vegas were fielding calls of the reported sighting.

Lt. Justin Griffin of the Maricopa Sheriff Department in Arizona was trying to guess what the strange light was.

"Believe it was a meteorite traveling from north to south across Maricopa County," Griffin said. "The 911 call center received a flood of calls."

Griffin said there were no reports of impact or damage.

"People are, indeed, reporting they saw a light head from west to east across the sky. We got reports from CHP and the FAA about callers seeing the light. It is reasonable to say that it may be a meteor," Curt Kaplan, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service told CNN affiliate KCAL.

There are no reports of aircraft incidents across Southern California, said FAA spokesperson Ian Gregor.

The sighting quickly became a hot topic on a number of social media websites with most asking, "Did you see it? What was that?" NASA officials announced this week the now-defunct Upper Atmosphere Research Satellite is expected to fall back to Earth in the coming weeks.

Some people are attributing the sighting to "Green fireballs", a type of unidentified flying object which have been sighted in the sky since the late 1940s. Early sightings primarily occurred in the southwestern United States, particularly in New Mexico.

They were once of notable concern to the US government because they were often clustered around sensitive research and military installations, such as Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratory, then Sandia base.

Don Yeomans, who heads the NASA's Near-Earth Object Program, said he was convinced that it was most likely a fireball - a fragment of an asteroid the size of a baseball or basketball that hit the atmosphere and disintegrated before reaching the ground.

This natural phenomenon tends to happen on a weekly basis, but it usually occurs over the ocean where no one can see.


"It's unusual for an object of this size to be seen over populated areas," Yeomans said. After witnessing the bright streak of light in the sky, sky watchers took to the internet to speculate what it could be.

Yeomans said the explanation is mundane. The bluish-green color suggests the object had some magnesium or nickel in it. Orange is usually an indication it's entering the atmosphere at several miles per second, a moderate rate of speed. "It's one of Mother Nature's better light shows," Yeomans said.

While many people believe that it was an asteroid there are still others who believe that may not be the case. Other individuals believe a UFO was most likely seen. In the end it is up to you to decide.