Meteor Baffles Stargazers With Spectacular Light Show as It Fell to Earth, Burning Up Across Night's Sky

A mysterious fiery blaze that cut across the night's sky from Massachusetts to Maine baffled stargazers last night but was likely a tiny meteor.

The Boston Herald reported the meteor, which travelled at between 10 and 30 miles a second as it entered the earth's atmosphere, created the greenish glow in some areas, while others saw a blue flash of light.

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Kenneth Janes, a professor of astronomy at Boston University, told the newspaper that the meteor likely burned up before re-entering the atmosphere otherwise it would have created a "tremendous explosion."

The falling object was likely no larger than the size of a golf ball. Despite its small size, however, it was not part of a meteor shower and fell on its own. The last meteor shower in the area occurred 10 days ago. The next similar celestial event isn't until January.

Meteor spotted over York County, Maine at 5:52 PM on the Mt. Agamenticus webcam. #meteor #fireball

— Ryan Breton (@RyanBretonWX) December 26, 2017

While multiple people reported seeing the meteor, very few were able to capture pictures of it falling because of its speed. The best images were taken by a webcam operated by the Mount Agamenticus Conservation Program in York, Maine. The pictures were posted online.

The webcam has previously recorded other displays such as the aurora borealis or meteor showers. Five or six years ago Robin Kerr, the conservation coordinator for the program, recalled the camera recorded a snowy owl landing on its viewing platform.

Although in images shared on social media the long thin band of light appears to fall close to the earth, it likely came no closer than 10 to 25 miles above the earth's surface. A spokeswoman for Massachusetts Port Authority said the object did not have any impact on operations at Boston Logan International Airport.

Janes said meteors fall to earth more or less every day as pieces of rock orbiting the sun fall into the earth's gravitational pull. "The ones that would do really serious damage are rare, but not impossible," he said.

While Massachusetts and Maine locals were treated to the impressive spectacle with last night's meteor, elsewhere in the world falling meteors have led to brushes with death. In 2013 a 10-ton meteorite exploded over Russia with the force of an atomic bomb, injuring 1,100 people. NASA believes that in October it identified an asteroid the size of a bus that passed between the earth and the moon. "A near-miss," Janes called it.