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"It took 23 seconds to cross the sky and was nearly as bright as the full Moon," says Thomas Ashcraft, who operates the camera. "The fireball made a sonic boom loud enough to be heard inside above fan noise and household din. At first I thought it was thunder." After passing over New Mexico, the fireball apparently continued on to Texas. "At 10:05 pm CDT (9:05 pm MDT) on Sept. 21st we witnessed a slow-moving fireball entering from the west and headed ENE," reports Matthew Byrd of Amarillo. "It was very bright white and shedding white sparks." Remarkably, the first fireball was followed by a second. "Nearly 7 or 8 min later another was sighted directly over Amarillo moving the same direction," adds Byrd. US Space Command reports no satellites or pieces of space junk decaying at the time of the sightings. This was probably a random meteoroid--and maybe two--disintegrating in Earth's atmosphere.
Great balls of fire have been reported swooping over Eastern Canada and several U.S. states. Even NASA's on the case. There are different theories about what was behind the sighting of those fireballs. A NASA spacecraft got a closer look at one of the possible sources today. The spacecraft flew past Hartley 2 -- taking closeup pictures after the comet made one of its closest passes by Earth this week. But one expert is skeptical of reports that any fireballs came from Hartley -- which is roughly 1.2 kilometres wide and spews deadly cyanide gas. Scientist Peter Brown says his meteor group at the University of Western Ontario tracked one of two fireballs while the other was tracked by NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office.