Sonic Boom from Possible Bolide in Last Night's Lyrids Meteor Shower
Late last night and early this morning the Lyrid meteor shower was at its peak. Hopefully everyone got a good view. If you snapped some cool pictures, post them to our community corkboard to give some of us who missed the Lyrids a chance to see them after all.
Possibly more exciting than the Lyrids was the speculation of a bolide exploding in Earth's lower atmosphere this morning, creating a large flash and sonic boom that was heard from Reno and Lake Tahoe to Tuolumne County in California.
This weekend's meteor shower is actually just a stream of dust leftover from the long-period comet Thatcher, which orbits the Sun once every 415 years. Those fragmented dust particles of interplanetary material are referred to as a meteoroids. They become shooting stars, or meteors, after then enter the Earth's atmosphere, streaking across the sky on their way to incineration, usually between an altitude of 47 and 62 miles.
Most meteors vaporize in this process. Every once in a while, one will gain meteorite status as crash into the Earth's surface. Most meteors are usually smaller than sesame seeds, but some do reach boulder size and are more likely to become meteorites. And some are just the right size to become bolides, otherwise known as fireballs, which cut a glowing slash across the sky and explode before hitting the ground.
Is that what the folks Nevada and California saw? Some people thought the loud explosion was caused by an earthquake or plane crash. People who were inside reported violent rattling, like something huge hit their homes. Observers outside saw the flash streak across the sky, which seemed dangerously close. But right now, it's still unexplained by local authorities.
Click here to read more about individual accounts. What do you think it was?
Again, if you took some pics of the Lyrids this year, make sure to share them on our corkboard. Here are some that I found on Flickr (click on them to enlarge).