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A fireball was seen fly across the sky in south­western Michigan around 8 p.m. on Jan 16. Facebook | Courtesy

 

A flash of light and a ball of fire ignited the Mid­western sky Tuesday night, cap­ti­vating the eyes of anyone who hap­pened to look up at the sky around 8:10 p.m..

According to the Detroit Free Press, people reported seeing what sci­en­tists are offi­cially terming a “fireball” in all parts of Michigan and in other states including Illinois, Penn­syl­vania, Ohio, Indiana, and Mis­souri as well as Ontario, Canada.

Esti­mated to be about two meters in diameter, the fireball moved slowly down the sky and caused an earth­quake reg­is­tering at a mag­nitude of 2.0, according to the United States Geo­logical Survey.

Both stu­dents and Hillsdale res­i­dents reported seeing and hearing the fireball. According to the Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were dis­patched to the area of Half Moon Lake Road in Fayette Township fol­lowing reports of an unex­plained object that “looked like a ball of flames” in the sky.

The Sheriff’s office was unable to comment on their findings.

Senior Aaron Andrews said he was hanging out with friends when he saw a ball of light streaming down the sky. Although silent, he said he could see pieces of rock flying off as it made its descent. The light was so bright that not only did it light up the sky outside, but it also lit up the interior of the house where Andrews and his friends were sitting.

“It was kind of like a shooting star, but mul­ti­plied by 20,” he said.

Senior Nathan Stein­meyer said he had a similar expe­rience as he was walking out of the Mossey Library on the path down to the Howard Music Building. According to Stein­meyer, the light looked like a Roman candle that lasted for 15 – 30 seconds before fiz­zling out toward the ground.

“It was remarkably like a firework,” he said.

Stein­meyer also noted the meteor’s silence, which he said made the sparks shooting off of it all the more remarkable.

Over near the hos­pital, Hillsdale res­ident Penny Swan said she did not see the meteor, but only heard it. Swan had just eaten dinner and was cleaning up her house when she heard a rumble. Thinking it was an earth­quake, she checked Facebook to see what hap­pened. No one had reported on an earth­quake, so she thought nothing of the incident for the time.

“I assumed it was just a truck until I saw the reports much later,” she said.

Assistant Pro­fessor of Physics Timothy Dolch said these types of fire­balls are more common than people tend to think, citing a famous 2013 incident when a fireball in Russia was so bright that it even lit up the sky during the daytime.

According to Dolch, this most recent Michigan fireball was brighter than a full moon.

“These sorts of things cer­tainly are pretty star­tling,” he said.