The Washington Post

Fireball blazes across skies in Southeast, outshining moon (VIDEO)

On August 28, a fireball shot across the pre-dawn sky near the Georgia-Tennessee border, so bright that its light output easily bested that of a full moon.

NASA posted this video, captured from one of its six cameras in the Southeast, all of which recorded this large meteor crashing into the atmosphere.

“From Chickamauga, Georgia, the meteor was 20 times brighter than the Full Moon; shadows were cast on the ground as far south as Cartersville,” NASA’s William Cooke writes.

Amazingly, NASA says weather radar detected small meteoritic particles falling from the sky east of Cleveland, Tennessee.

The meteor, about 2 feet in diameter and weighing over 100 pounds, entered the atmosphere at 56,000 mph NASA says.

Here is some basic information on fireballs from the American Meteor Society:

A fireball is a meteor that is larger than normal. Most meteors are only the size of tiny pebbles. A meteor the size of a softball can produce light equivalent to the full moon for a short instant. The reason for this is the extreme velocity at which these objects strike the atmosphere. Even the slowest meteors are still traveling at 10 miles per SECOND, which is much faster than a speeding bullet. Fireballs occur every day over all parts of the Earth.

A fireball apparently zipped through the sky in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast last night (Wednesday, September 4). Numerous witnesses reported seeing a fireball around 11 p.m. from northwest Virginia through central Maryland and into Pennsylvania and New York according to the American Meteor Society’s Web site.

Related links:

Russian meteor deposited dust trail that traveled the world

Surprise attack: Meteor explodes over Russia hours before giant asteroid flyby (VIDEO)

Dramatic meteor streaks through evening sky (March 22, 2013, D.C. area)

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.
Show Comments
Most Read

At a Glance


31° /45°
Drop 40%


32° /37°
Drop 70%


29° /37°
Drop 30%


22° /31°


18° /33°


21° /31°
National Airport

Right Now

Washington, D.C., Snow Tracker

Current Snow Total
Record Most Snow
Record Least Snow
(1997-98, 1972-73)
Last Winter's Snow Total

D.C. Area Almanac

Avg. High
Avg. Low
Rec. High
Rec. Low

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.