Democracy Dies in Darkness

Capital Weather Gang

Four fireball meteors flashed across the sky over the U.S. and Europe on Tuesday night

November 15, 2017 at 11:41 AM

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A security camera video captured a fireball that flew across the sky over Phoenix on Nov. 14. (City of Phoenix, Arizona)

Four separate meteors lit up the sky over the United States and Europe on Tuesday night — and one of them was caught on camera in Arizona.

The fireball blazed a trail over Phoenix around 8:30 p.m. Mountain time. It was caught on several security cameras — including the one in the video above — and captured in a photo by the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

Three other meteors kept the American Meteor Society and the International Meteor Organization very busy on Tuesday night.

At 8:40 p.m., a fireball lit up the sky over southern Ohio. Later in the night, two meteors zoomed over Europe — one over Germany and the other over France. More than 1,300 people sent reports to the organizations, making last night the busiest night they’ve ever had since the online reporting forms were launched.

It looks like the fireballs were at least somewhat related — the Taurid meteor shower peaked on Saturday, and Taurid meteors are still shooting across the sky.

“Associated with the comet Encke, the Taurids are actually two separate showers, with a Southern and a Northern component,” the American Meteor Society wrote on Wednesday morning. “Both branches of the Taurids are most notable for colorful fireballs and are often responsible for an increased number of fireball reports from September through November.”

While the meteors that occurred over Arizona and France couldn’t be linked to the Taurids, because of their origin and direction, the meteors over Germany and Ohio were likely Taurids given their east-to-west trajectory and early-evening appearance.

Angela Fritz is an atmospheric scientist and The Washington Post's deputy weather editor. Before joining The Post, Fritz worked as a meteorologist at CNN in Atlanta and Weather Underground in San Francisco. She has a BS in meteorology and an MS in earth and atmospheric science.

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