Residents in Big Country report fireball in sky, loud boom
ABILENE, Texas - Many people reported to KTXS that they saw a fireball moving across the sky Sunday evening just before 9 p.m. Most of the reports came from an area from Abilene to Snyder.
People in the Snyder region also reported hearing a boom like that of a transformer failing or a sonic boom that a jet might create.
Based on the reports, it appears that something fell from the sky and got close enough to the ground that the sonic boom it created was audible to people on the ground in parts of our area. However, we have not received any reports of anything crashing to the ground.
The object could have been man-made space debris like a piece from a spent rocket. But we have not heard of any of these reentries from NASA or our military. More likely it was a piece of "rock" wandering around in our solar system that fell into our atmosphere.
As the object falls deeper into our atmosphere friction with air molecules increases and heats the object. This creates the streak of light in the sky. Most of the time the falling object burns up before hitting the ground.
Since the falling object is likely traveling at several thousand miles per hour, it creates a sonic boom. If it is close enough to the ground, we may hear it.
Checking for a possible noise maker, the USGS earthquake site indicates no measured earthquakes in the state of Texas Sunday or Sunday evening.
Several astronomy sites indicate we are not in a "classic" meteor shower window. However, I did read some discussions about a "fireball season" that occurs around the time of the spring equinox which is March 20 this year. There were several theories about why this happens.
The American Meteor Society does log reports of any fireballs over Texas tonight.