Hundreds Of Witnesses Saw An Incredible Meteor Last Night. Here's Why It's A Big Deal

Hundreds, maybe thousands of space watchers across the midwest and northeast were treated to a fiery show last night. Several monitoring cameras picked up on a meteor flashing across the night's sky. The American Meteor Society started collecting reports and associated video evidence early, with the number of reports quickly trending up from around 400 to nearly 850 as of writing. Some could see the spectacle from as far inland as the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, all the way out to the Atlantic shores of Virginia, according to a map of reports compiled by the AMS.

Onlookers in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maryland, Tennessee, and South and North Carolina reported the sightings. The event occurred around 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The last significant sighting was nearly two weeks ago, with one meteor leaving evidence of its passing around Lake Ontario. Spotting a meteor can be a very rare occurrence, with a vast majority of people never having the pleasure of seeing one grace the sky in their lifetime.

The largest meteor spotting in the US in 2022

The odds of spotting a meteor from earth are greater in today's age with the advent of cameras that are built into nearly everything we use. Many of the reported events came fromĀ doorbell cameras, for instance, which might not have been caught without the AI-assisted motion detection features many of them have.

Also contributing to the wide array of reports is the flight path of the meteor itself. While the space rock was certainly on the larger side, according to Mike Hankey of the AMS (per reporter Sanjay Maru), the shallow angle it took, combined with the clear skies in the region, caused it to be visible from a much larger range (up to 600 miles) for a duration roughly twice as long as usual. It was already the second largest sighting of the year during the initial spurt of reports as of this afternoon.

Hankey also noted that the time of day was ideal. A combination of dark skies and a work populace that was largely commuting home helped increase its visibility. According to the AMS database, this is now the largest collection of U.S. reports for a single meteor in 2022, beating out the more than 600 reports for a July 25 occurrence. Globally, it sits third behind sightings across Europe on May 16 (895) and September 14 (1259).