« This morning's solar eclipse captured | Main | Mild, sunny January days won't last »

January 19, 2010

Twilight meteor reported Monday in Maryland

UPDATE: This meteor appears to be the one that drilled through the roof of a Lorton, Va. dental office Monday evening. Read more here

The Tuesday morning mail contained the following report from a reader in Reisterstown, Md. He and his wife spotted a bright meteor to their south after sunset on Monday evening. The crescent moon and planet Jupiter were visible in the southwest.

Here's his report, including a meteor photo he says resembles what he saw. If anyone else spotted the same object, please leave us a comment and describe what you saw. Please include the time, your location, the direction you were looking, the direction of flight, the object's approximate height above the horizon (in degrees, if possible; zero degrees is on the horizon, 90 degrees is straight up) and anything else you can remember.


"Hi Frank,
"My wife and I believe we saw a fireball meteor yesterday. It was at 5:38 Monday afternoon, January 18. It was twilight and only the moon and one planet were visible in the sky, which was still blue and not yet black. For about 3 to 5 seconds, the meteor descended down in the south, looking from Reisterstown, MD towards the BWI area.
When I saw it, I said to my wife, "Look there!" And she quickly turned her head and was able to see the trail. "What was that?" she said, astonished. Usually, meteor don't last that long.
"We weren't sure if it was some space debris, a meteor or a firework. The smoke trail last about four minutes.
"I have enclosed a picture I found on the web that looks like what I saw. I too saw a brilliant bluish area that shed off secondary streams of light. Again, this is not my picture, but represents what I saw.
"There was no sonic boom as in your report from a year or two ago. Have other people seen this? - HenryJan. 18, 2010 meteor Simoni-Wastila"
Thanks, Henry. I don't think this was space debris re-entering the atmosphere. It seems to have been moving too rapidly. And while it may have appeared to be descending over BWI, the meteor was probably much higher and much farther from the observer than it seemed. So it's likely observers in Southern Maryland, Virginia and perhaps even North Carolina saw the same thing, slightly higher above the horizon.
So, if you saw this thing, drop us a comment. Thanks.
UPDATE: Here (right) is a photo of the smoke trail left by last night's meteor, used with permission from the photographer, Anthony Nugnes, of Silver Spring, Md. (I increased the contrast a bit to make the trail more clearly visible.)  He writes:
"I consulted with William E. Smith (astronomy buff) of Bowie, MD and he stated the following: 'Good shots of the trail. Looks like you've witnessed a bolide, a possible member of The Coma Berenicid meteor shower which peaks tonight. (1/18)'"
Property owners in Maryland with security cameras that face toward the west or southwest may want to check their tapes to see if they caught the fireball. If so, send the video files along and I'll post them.  Thanks.

Meteor smoke trailHere's another photo of the meteor's smoke trail. The snake-line shape is due to high-altitude winds blowing the smoke around.

It was taken by Tom Cinelli's wife (Tom, you need to give us her name!). He said it was taken  "using a zoom lens from our home in Lothian, Md. at about 5:40 p.m. It was traveling west at say about 35 degrees above the horizon. Any idea of where it landed, or did it burn up?" Tom asks.

No, but readers in southern Virginia say they saw it to their northeast, which - since most observers in Maryland, Pa., and NJ put it to their southwest -would place the meteor somewhere in northern Viginia, I would guess.

Most of these things burn up as they come down, and nothing is ever found. But clearly not all.


Posted by Frank Roylance at 8:20 AM | | Comments (188)
Categories: Sky Watching


I saw this as well- I live on the Eastern Shore and it was to the west and a little south of me. What I found really confusing was the "smoke" trail after it-almost like a flare gun. I also talked to someone else who lives north of me that spotted it -she thought it was a flare.

I saw the same thing. It was Monday night 1/18/2010, I was looking at the moon, a bright star under it, and then a huge fireball that left a nice smoke trail.

My location was just south of Philadelphia, around 5:40ish or so.

I also saw this in Mountain Top, PA (outside Wilkes-Barre). I was traveling south on Rt 309 and saw it in the sky right. Initially I thought it was an airplane or a firework. It was at 5:38 as well. I called my wife to let her know what I saw...she thought I was nuts. Glad I wasn't the only one.

I observed the meteor at approximately same time. I was at the corner of Joppa road and Perring Parkway - facing west on Joppa. Object first appeared to be nearly over Joppa at about 65 degrees heading west southwest - approximately 20 degrees from parallel to Perring. Continued for at least 10 seconds before breaking up about 30 degrees above horizon.

I saw the same thing as you described at about 5:45PM last night. I was headed north, in Severna Park coming from Annapolis and saw what appeared to be a fireball in the sky and too high up. And it did look like it was headed towards BWI airport. I was amazed! Never seen anything like that before.

I saw it! It was at about the same exact time. I was driving home from work in the suburbs of Richmond, VA. Except I saw it up close! It was literally right in front of my face. I didn't even have to look up. It appeared a few hundred feet above the tree line. It was moving very fast. It was definitely a physical object that was falling straight downward. It looked like a ball of fire. And it was big! My first thought was that it was a private airplane crashing to the ground. I also heard no sound. This was no shooting star, it was in free fall.

I saw this too. I was driving south on the NJ Turnpike between Exits 3 & 2. It was around 5:30 PM to 5:45 PM. I looks like a missle getting fired out of nowhere heading south. It lasted maybe 2 seconds.

We saw the exact same thing at the exact same time as we were driving back from NYC.

I, too, saw this object yesterday evening from the Dupont neighborhood in Washington, D.C. The bright orange object zipped through the sky rapidly (SSW trajectory) leaving a smoke trail that was illuminated orange by the setting sun. Parts of the trail continued to glow bright orange for several seconds after the object disappeared. Though it may be due to some factors other than trajectory, the smoke trail did not appear to form a straight line but rather swerved at points, even immediately after it appeared.

FR: Good report. The meteor's trail, being very high in the atmosphere, was catching the sun, which was well below the horizon from our perspective on the ground in Maryland. The color was reddish due to the filtering/scattering effects of the atmosphere. And the trail was by then being tossed about by the high-altitude winds, giving it a crooked appearance.

I saw it also; I was in Millersville standing in the front yard of a client and saw it over his shoulder facing northwest. From my vantage point it appeared to fall just slightly less than vertical, somewhere between 78' and 83'. As the other commenter stated it actually looked like a more firework or even a marine flare, than a meteor, falling fairly slowly and leaving a pronounced smoke trail. The contrail lasted for several minutes in the twilight sky. It was very cool looking!

I saw it too. On my way home from work. It looked like a shooting start at first then, like burned up a little then burst. It left what looked like a hole. I was only a couple minutes from home, but still called my wife to hurry up and go out on the deck and look at the moon. I wanted her to see the resulting trail and hole from what I saw. WOW! I have seen maybe 5 or 6 shooting stars in my life and never saw anything like that.

Pasadena MD

Saw the same thing at dusk it was going west . I have never seen one so low to the ground. I live in southern Maryland lusby

Hi Frank,
Considering time and place, me and my girlfriend probably saw the same object described by Henry. What we saw yesterday 1/18 at 5:38 pm seemed to go down in a straight line over I-95 NJ Turnpike 10 miles from the Delaware Memorial Bridge. We were going south on the NJT, which has a SW direction at that point.
Thanks, Jorge

Hi Frank,
I witnessed the same thing and the same time. I just finished archery hunting in Westminster and turned to my left to head for home (South-Southwest) and saw what is described in your column by Henry. It came in from the west (above where the sun had set) and moved towards the south probably around 30 or 35 degrees above the horizon. After entering the atmosphere, it then abruptly took a nosedive towards the ground and flamed out (try to picture it going laterally across the sky and then halfway through switching direction and plummeting to the ground). I estimate it only lasted 1-2 seconds, but it was clearly much longer than the normal "shooting star" that stargazers normally see. Unfortunately, since I was in the woods, my view was partially obstructed by the trees but it was still a spectacular sight.

We were driving south on route 15 from upstate New York to Virginia. At about 5:30/40 we were in northern Pennsylvania and saw it falling nearly vertical and very low on the horizon. We then saw a second meteor at around 9:30 PM over Tyson's Corner in Northern Virginia. Also fell nearly vertical and was low on the horizon.

My wife and I had just finished eating dinner at Hemingway's in Stevensville and we were taking pictures of the beautiful post-sunset sky when we saw this incredible meteor as described by others. It was approx 5:40pm and it appeared high in the SW sky (to the right of the moon and Jupiter). I have been observing meteors for many years and this was by far the brightest and longest-lasting I have ever seen! I have two pictures of the trail left behind on facebook.


Hello, I saw a bright light appear in the SW sky drop vertically from about 45 degrees in the sky and disappear behind buildings. It lasted about 2 to 4 seconds. I was in baltimore city at the time, and it was very visible despite the city lights. The trail was visible, so it seemed pretty close, but could have been very far away, difficult to tell. I thought it could have been a flare from the water, but to me it seemed to high and too bright. --- Mark

I saw it too! I live in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. It was a bright and vibrant fireball that dropped down in front of me. It was quick but very vivid. It was at around 5:55 p.m. I am glad that others saw it too.

Received this directly, from Bruce Shapiro:

I saw the same thing your reader Henry described, at the exact same time. I was driving south on I-95 on the northeast side of the city, between the beltway and the I-95/I-895 split. It appeared out of nowhere at about 60 degrees above the horizon and disappeared at around 30 degrees, moving very quickly. A smoke trail was visible for several minutes.

It was quite startling, and for a moment I thought whatever it was might hit the highway.


My husband and I were about 5 miles southeast of BWI and saw bright lights coming down over what look like right over BWI ( looked lke fireworks) Which left a light trail for 5-10 min. The light came straight down in a vertical line and broke off in three. About 1 hour or less after that we were traveling south on Ritchie hwy in Severna Park and saw another light, the size of a disco ball fall in a vertical line and diminish...Pretty wild!!!

My Husband and I were driving along I-90 just East of Billings MT at approx 7 PM we saw a similar phenom. A brightness lit up the darkness and we saw a green tail following a "fireball" The object appeared to explode with a bright light as well and we assumed it hit the Earth's atmosphere. Beautiful! My concern is that we saw it here in Montana at 7 PM rather than the 5:30 reported on the east coast, which would have been 3:30 here and light anyway.

FR: Clearly a different meteor. Thanks.

I can't believe how wide spread these sightings are! I saw it while driving on I81 just south of Scranton, PA. It pretty much came down at 90 degrees and seemed like it was only about 40-60 miles away. Never saw anything like that before.

FR: They are almost always far more distant than they seem, and very high in the atmosphere - 50 to 60 miles up, which is why they can be seen from several different states.

Is it possible that what we all saw was a Fireball and not a meteor? At first I thought it was a meteor but the description of a Fireball sounds more like what we saw (we saw a bright flash of red/orange right before the object disappeared).

FR: Fireballs are unusually bright and showy meteors. I'd say this one qualifies as a fireball.

My wife and I saw it too, we viewed it from Shrewsbury, PA (Mason Dixon Line). Very bright, falling straight down in the south west sky around 5:35ish. Saw the smoke trail also shortly after the fire ball show! UFO or Zoo F.O.??

Last night, 1/18/2010, just after sunset while the sky was still blue, I saw a fireball in the sky. Initially, I thought a neighbor might have set off a firework, but I saw only the downward trajectory. The ball looked like that produced by a Roman candle, only much brighter.

From location 37.610524 latitude, -77.546689 longitude, (Richmond, VA) the ball appeared around 30 degrees above the horizon and lasted to about 20 degrees where houses and the tree line obscured the view. From my location, the ball appeared about 21 degrees from magnetic north.

I'd love to know if this thing made it to the ground.

Thanks for report this!

Steve Brannon

Monday, January 18, 2010, time: 1737 (early sunset, blue sky), looking south while driving south on the New Jersey Turnpike at mile marker 46.8, about lat 40.31 long -74.49, direction SSW, apparent movement straight down from 30 degrees elevation to horizon, brightest object in a blue sky (no stars out), persistent contrail which lasted one minute or more (duration of fireball 3 to 4 seconds). Other drivers at a turnpike service area reported seeing it also.

Howard Morland

I was pulling up to the intersection of Rt. 152 driving southwest along Rt. 165 in Upper Crossroads (Baldwin), MD between 5:35 and 5:40 PM on Monday, January 18, 2010 when I saw the object. It was falling almost parallel to my path just to my right and continued just to the left of the crescent moon from my position. It appeared to break-up slightly as it fell and almost seemed to sparkle like a firework would. It was an awesome sight between the orange/pink color of the horizon, the navy blue of the sky and the moon. The trail stayed in the sky for a number of minutes and seemed to have a slight crook or bend to it.

I saw the same meteor as well around the same time. I was driving south on 83 just before the exit to TImonium. I saw another one about half an hour later further south on 83. I could see the fire go out and a black object falling both times.

My wife and I also saw it in the western sky in Lothian. By the time we could take pictures we could only got photos of the "light trail". Its a first for us.

FR: Send us your photos!. Thanks.

i saw it while driving south on the bottom end of the jfx. think i might have been coming up to the light at fayette st.

i guess it was 60-70 degrees above the horizon and maybe 10-15 degrees east of the direction i was pointing. it looked like it was coming straight down. a nice long red orange trail with a bright white ball at the head.

Saw it last night at twilight. Didn't get the time.

We were in Pasadena, on Catherine Ave at the intersection of 648. It was nearly due West of us.

It appeared to be moving Westerly.

At 5:38 saw the same object. We were in NJ travelling Southwest on I-295S between exit 7 and exit 10. It was 5 degrees right of the interstate. Smoke/fire trail began at 60 degrees above horizon and came down to the horizon. About 5-10 degrees above horizon, saw a bright flash.

I live in the south of N,J. I saw it,too, with my mom at around 5:30. It was in the East. It showed when there was still a little light out, and it lasted for about 3-5 seconds.My mom thought it was a fire work,but I knew it wasn't. It was so cool.My Mom and I thought it landed here in N,J! But I guess not

FR: East? From NJ? That doesn't square with the reports we've had so far. Should have been to your southwest.

I saw an bright orange fireball coming home from Wisp in Western MD on Rt 68. It was about 60 degrees in the sky to the left of us and we were heading east. The time was around 5:30 pm or so.

FR: Left? Are you sure?

My 10 year old daughter saw this and said it was the most amazing thing she has ever seen. I told her to write down the time she saw it (5:38 pm) and I would look in the news today for any reports of meteor sightings. She will be so excited when I show her this report.

I saw same thing, same time from Howard County...what I found unusual was that I was looking in another direction and the brightness of the fireball caused me to look up (and the long time that it lasted) and still see the actual object and resulting trail.

I saw one later, well after 9:00 last night in Western Maryland. A huge flaming something in the sky!

My nephew and I saw it at about 5:40 pm on January 18th. We were driving west on Route 8, a few miles west of Dover, Delaware. The meteor was going in a southwesterly direction. It didn't last long, but flashed blue at one point. It left contrails (is that correct) that lasted awhile. My nephew thought it was fireworks.

I saw this yesterday, here in Waldorf, MD (Southern MD). However, it was around 9:30pm, if that makes any sense.

What I saw looked exactly like the top image in this article.

FR: Several readers have reported a second meteor at around 9:30 p.m.

I was on the phone with my mom and we both saw this while driving home from work. She was headed west-bound from Owings Mills, MD and I was heading north-bound from Silver Spring, MD. She saw it first and was shocked, by the time I looked up the light was gone but I did see the tail. I thought it was very strange how the smoke trail left a jagged line instead of a smooth airplane trail. We were both confused as to what it was.

FR: Yikes! Two distractions while driving. Times two.

I was on Rt. 97 traveling North-West right outside Annapolis when I saw the fireball. It streaked across the sky to my right with a trail of smoke, almost flashing while burning, and continued to plummet downward extremely fast.

I live near Reading, PA. I saw it around 5:40 pm. It looked like it broke into two parts before it disappeared. It was the coolest meteor I ever saw. I was heading west and I saw it out the driver side of my car, which would have made it south of me.

I saw it at ~5:40 in Delaware County PA near Rt 322. I thought at first it was a flare or giant bottle rocket, but it was going in the wrong direction. Lasted about 3-4 sec, smoke tail lasted another 4-5 sec.

Last night, Monday the 18th of January, I was leaving Lowes home improvement store in Stroudsburg, PA at 5:40 pm - coming down towards the stop light on 116 to get on route 80 south. As I approached the traffic light on 116 I observed an incredible site.

The moon to the west and the waxing crescent moon appeared about six inches above Jupiter the blazing planet Jupiter in west just before dark yesterday, The sky was like a red curtain an two (2) planes where crossing each other about 5 inches to the north of Jupiter.

Then just below the waxing moon a meteor appeared go straight west or better yet straight down from under the moon towards Jupiter and than straight to the horizon in the west.

The meteor was about the width of a pencil and about 2 and 1/2 inches long. It was a 2 & 1/2 fireball but thin with smoke. The meteor flamed like one of the old 1950's Buck Rodgers spaceships as it disappeared over the horizon to the west.

The world is an incredible place.


I'm on Lake Norman (n. of Charlotte) in North Carolina and saw the 9:30 meteor. It was to the northeast, about 10-15 degrees above the horizon and travelling very fast nearly straight down.

Seems to resemble an alien abduction rather than a meteor...

From York, PA - my niece and I were out walking, heading south, when we witnessed this. As we have both seen meteor and comet showers before, we couldn't figure out the two explosions that we witnessed, in addition to the fact that it came "straight" down. It sounds like other people witnessed this same "effect" so we know we aren't crazy! We did talk to another person here in York that also saw it. All in all, it was really amazing and I don't think either one of us will forget what we saw!


Please give me an email address or instructions on how to send you a photo of the smoke trail.


FR: Sned any photo files to Thanks.

My wife and I saw this as we headed south on 301 in Delaware. I've seen shooting stars before but never something like this and with a smoke trail. I almost rear-ended someone at an ensuing red light, thankfully I snapped out of my little trance and recovered in time. Very cool, I felt lucky to catch it!

I saw what I initially thought was a firework very high in the sky- much brighter than a shooting star- around 5:40 Monday evening. It came down vertically, fizzling out, leaving a white trail. I immediately posted my sighting on Facebook, inquiring if anyone else had seen it in Arnold, MD. I had replies from all over MD (and curiously also in NC) from people who'd seen the same thing!

I was walking my dog in teh Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. I thought it was something going on at the airport. It was across the sky over that region with the city as a backdrop. I have viewed them from more remote locations, but usually the lights from the city make it hard to see. This was "timed" perfectly for many of us to catch it.
I saw it and put it on twitter (@surlyrider) but did not get anyone to write back, so I thought maybe it was me being a bit nutty.

I saw this yesterday at 5.38pm...we're in Rockville, MD.

I saw the meteor too! I was driving home from work in atco nj, about 6:45 pm and happened to look up towards the south eastern sky and saw it just before it broke up and left the long lasting trail everyone has descibed.
I thought it was a firework landing beforeI realized it was way too far up in the sky.Probably the biggest meteor I've seen.And first time Ive seen one at dusk.

Thank you for posting this. I saw exactly what everyone is describing while driving on I-95 south in Philadelphia with my mother. She was too busy watching the road to see this ball of colored fire that turned bright white before it dissapeared in the sky so I thought I might have been losing my mind!

I saw the same thing monday evening the 18th(driving in the suburbs outside philly.) I thought it was a firework because it seemed so close, but it didn't have the big shower of sparks, it was just orange green and falling straight down. I then thought it might have been a plane, but a real plane flew by it and they wern 't nearly the same size. Who knows where it landed.

I live in Billings montana and at about 7:30 our time a meteor had also light the sky with a huge blue flash. I had been fishing at Cooney Dam and saw it from about 45 degrees to nearly before it hit the ground. It went out about 100 yards prior to impact.

I saw this too! I feel so special to have gotten the opportunity to witness it for such a short instant. I am not sure of the exact time, somewhere between 5:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. My husband and I were driving westbound on Rt. 50. We were still on the Eastern Shore approaching the bay bridge. We had just passed the Outlets. As we were heading westbound, I saw it slightly to the left (so I guess that would be southwest). It looked like it was traveling away from us - southbound. I have no concept of how high it might have been. It was high enough so that when I lost track of it it looked like it "burned out" rather than hitting anything on land or falling behind any trees. It looked like it just fizzled out. I guess about 45 degrees up. What caught my eye about it was its speed (faster than anything I had seen in the sky before), its squiggly trajectory (unlike a plane that goes pretty straight), and the fact that the light was very bright and flickering inconsistently like a flame (making me think that whatever it was must have been on fire). It also looked like it fizzled out in the sky and then I lost track of it. Of course I also wondered if I lost track of it because the sky was lighter at that lower level. It also left a trail of white squiggly smoke. I literally only saw it for about 3 seconds before it was gone. The smoke lingered though. I immediately thought it was either a burning plane, something falling from the sky that was on fire, or more likely a meteor! I am glad this article was posted because I wanted to tell someone but didn't know who!

Seen it in Manchester , Pennsylvania. Didn't see a tail though. Only lasted 3 seconds and I am so grateful I had the chance to witness it.
Also posted on facebook and got one response and on craigslist and got many more.

I saw this last night at around 5:40 pm while I was running in Bowie, MD. It was really bright as it passed overhead, not quite at 90 degrees but close to it. It seemed to dissipate somewhat in the atmosphere, and I thought it was space debris breaking up while re-entering. Then, I saw it flash really bright (almost like an explosion), and then it just seemed to vanish. The white smoke trail seemed visible to me for a few minutes, which I thought was the weirdest thing. This was definitely the strangest meteor I've ever seen.

And if this is a sign of an alien abduction or invasion, I would like to know so that I can move as quickly as possible.

Thanks =)

Dear Frank,
From Southeast Baltimore County, around 5:35pm, my wife looked up and saw a bright object streak and then burn out right around the moon and Jupiter(?) in the southern sky - the sky was still blue just after sunset. By the time I got to look up, the object left a jagged white contrail that lasted about five minutes. Pretty neat!

I saw it after I left work last night. I work in Coatesville, PA and was driving west and saw it out my drivers side windows. The sun was barely set and the sky was still pretty red in the west.
At first I thought it was a bottle rocket, but instead of it aiming up it was aiming down. That's the best i can describe it. It also had a greenish tint to it. As for the angle it was heading at. If you would compare it's direction to the face of the clock, it was moving towards the 7:00 time.

It was 5:38 p.m. and I was on my way home from work when I saw it. I was in Callands, Virginia (about 30 miles north of the North Carolina border) and was looking in a northeasterly direction. The meteor was very bright and fell straight down. It appeared to break apart and burn up. It only lasted about 3 seconds…

We saw it too! We were driving to the mall in Salisbury, MD and had stopped on the way at a vet office for a friend. She ran in to make a purchase while the driver and I sat in the car waiting. All of a sudden there was a huge fireball falling from the sky!! I thougt it was some sort of space debris or explosion, because a lot of "smoke" lingered afterwards. So so cool!!! I'm so glad I found this website, I've been wondering about it ever since :)

I was about 2 miles east of Georgetown Delaware driving west on Rte. 9. I too saw this thing for at least 3-4 seconds, but I saw a very bright flash, bright white light like a welder, but very small, then a small piece decended for another 1.5 seconds or so. I was on the cell phone and was so amazed I said "Holy Crap". The sky was cloudless and deep blue so the smoke trail was visible for a long distance.

I saw this too - a long crooked smoke like flare in the sky at around 5:35-5:40 p.m. I am in the Edgewater area it was to the South/West. It was a curious color, rose/pink/orange. It actually resembled a crooked jet engine exhaust cloud.

I saw what looked like a large dying firework in the southeastern sky while driving east on I-70 at around 5:45 PM. I suspected it was a meteor - glad others saw this.

My son and I saw the same thing at 5:49 pm in Mechanicsburg, PA. We were driving south and I saw (to the east of us)a green fireball w/ a long tail heading straight to the earth. I told my son , look at that! It was there long enough for him to get a good look too and then it disintegrated. It was much bigger and brighter than an ordinary shooting star.

Interesting stuff. I believe I actually saw two. Both of these were located in northern Harford county md. I'm not sure of the exact time but the above times seem roughly right (I was coming back from skiing). The 1st one I saw was right near Pylesville MD. Actually, I thought it was either a really amazing meteor or a dude bottle rocket (I was sort of leaning towards the latter because it was so slow and so detailed - I could see individual pieces fall off). About 10 or 15 minutes later I saw another that looked very similar to the 1st. I assumed then that it might be a small meteor shower instead. Looks like I wasn't the only one. I'm really surprised that these postings are from all over the place. Honestly, it looked like it was just a few hundred yards from me. I guess it was just big. But yes, very big, bright and detailed. Btw, I was driving in a southerly direction.

I was standing outside my house in Annapolis last evening at sunset and saw a large, bright white light with a "greenish" tail streaking in a southwesterly direction just above the treeline. It appeared very low over the horizon and disappeared leaving only a vapor trail.

Hello, I am 10 years old from Ellicott City, and I saw something that stunned my eyes at 5:38 P.M last night. It looked like a red fireball with a very long tail falling in the southwest sky. It was a life changing event! I didnt know what it was,but I was determinded to find out. Just in case it was a shooting star I made a wish,even though the sight was good enough.

I was out on my evening run about 5:45 when I saw this bright trail and then a huge burst of light. I wondered if it was a meteor and hoped it wasn't a plane going down. I live north of Philadelphia in a small borough called Perkasie.

FR: remember, these reports aren't very helpful if you fail to include information about your location, the direction in which you saw the object, how high it was above the horizon and its subsequent movement. Meteor hunters and others use the information to try to triangulate on the meteor's path, and estimate where it might have landed if it survived its plunge through the air. Thanks.

I was driving West on I-78 (from Bethlehem to Allentown, PA) around 5:40pm and saw what I initially thought was the tail end of a firework. I then realized no more fireworks were going on at the time and thought it had to have been some sort of debris or meteor. No one else I've talked to saw anything, but I'm glad to see I'm not the only one!

My daughter and I saw this same thing! We were in Annapolis by a big field and like others had said, the sky was still a little blue. We both looked at each other and yelled "Shooting star!" and made wishes. :)

Hi Frank!
I saw this 5:38 heading south on 95 in Harford County, MD. I called WJZ news in Baltimore to report the fireball, but they didn't seem interested and told me that someone else had already reported it. I even stayed up late to watch the news, but it was not mentioned. I'm glad that I am not the only one to experience this!

I was on 695 at Towson and my wife and I saw the bright streak under the moon to the south at 5:38pm. It was going way too fast to be a plane. It was cool.

I was standing outside in Ellicott City, MD at about 5:45 pm. and saw well above the treeline facing south a big fireball falling straight down from the sky. I thought it was a shooting star but shooting stars don't usually go straight down. It also reminded me of fireworks because of the trail it left behind, but no sound. I suspected it may have been a meteor.

Sighted the same object around 5:38PM 18 Jan 2010. From the Pocomoke City Maryland the fireball appeared to head toward the D.C. area. I have sent to Frank Roylance a Google Map illustrating the direction as seen from Pocomoke City. Perhaps other can do the same and get a fix on the potential impact site.

I saw this too! Millersville, Pa. I thought it was either first contact or a section of airplane hurtling to earth. The color of the fire was incredible; purple, blue, and bright red. It fell so fast and was gone behind the treeline in seconds

I saw the meteor about 5:38, desending vertically. I was traveling East from Staunton, VA. It was East-Northeast from me. Ended I guess 40 degrees from the horizon.

I saw it as I was getting out of my car in the Cockeysville WalMart parking lot. It was in the SW sky and fairly low. I didn't see the smoke trail.

We saw the meteor from Hampden in Baltimore City, standing in the park at 34th Street and Beech Avenue, looking towards the south-west. It was actually my husband who saw it and exclaimed, and (to my great disappointment) by the time I looked up, all that was left was the trail of smoke (which looked exactly like your middle picture above, says my son, who was on the swings in the park). My husband comments that to him it appeared white or silver in color rather than greenish or orangish as mentioned in some of the reports above, and he noticed it at about 45 degrees above the horizon, dropping like a stone. We went home and immediately began googling to try to find reports of this phenomenon, to no avail (although we did come across mention of the Coma Berenicid meteor shower, but only in the context of visibility from Canada). Thank you so much for this blog!! Neat to read of so many sightings from so many different locations.

My kids and I were driving South on 13 in Dover and they saw it. I did not ,being I was driving. At the next stop light I did look and the trail was still visible. The "burst" was still visible in smoke. It was headed in a South-west direction, and looking at the moon, it would have been about 25-30 degrees to the right.


My wife's name is Fran. She gets the credit for the very vivid picture of the the smoke trail. We both took pictures but mine are mostly blurs.


I live in Glen Burnie and was getting out of my car when I looked up and saw it travel across the sky from about 70 deg vertical to about 50 deg towards the due west from my vantage point. It initially was a whole fireball then split into several smaller pieces before flaming out. The time of about 5:40 matches up... VERY cool looking!!


Also saw the meteor about 5:30/5:40Pm. I am in Columbia near the mall. It was a bright fireball and the smoke trail looked exactly like in the pictures posted here.

I saw the meteor as well! My friend and I were driving South on Route 202, in New Hope, PA. The bright ball of fire was directly in front of us, approximately 75 degrees high in the sky, very large, and seemed to burn out at the tree line. We observed the smoke trail as well. I called my son and my husband to tell them what we had seen. We were very excited to witness something so amazing!

I was driving on the Long Island Expressway, heading west towards NYC from Long island (just east of Cross Island Parkway) in Queens , with my son, and saw what everyone else is describing at the same time. The best description I can provide, is to say look at the second photo (the one of the smoke trail) and that is the exact position and length I saw this fireball drop.
It was not a typical meteor sighting, (which I perceive as a slim fast moving straight line moving horizontally across the sky), this was a huge fireball dropping almost straight down and much slower.
It lasted about 4 seconds, disappearing just over the horizon, yet we saw no smoke trail. The odd part of it was that it was twilight, so there was no total darkness, but it was the most intense meteor sighting I have witnessed.

Our sighting was much later, between 9 and 10 PM eastern time. We were traveling South from BWI toward Solomons Island. What we saw was traveling at high speed across the sky at about the level of the top of our windshield view. My taveling companion saw it as well, but did not confirm seeing anything until I mentioned "Did you just see that?" having thought he must have imagined it as it was traveling much to fast to be of this Earth.

FR: Sounds like the 9:30 meteor other readers have reported.

From Charlottesville, VA, I saw in the south/southeastern sky on the evening of January 18 a spectacular falling meteor of orangeish color. It was later than the early evening reports. It fell from about 80 degrees to 60 degrees, from west to east but mainly toward the horizon. It lasted 2 or more seconds and looked like there were pieces coming from it. (Not like an intact shooting star). I don't remember the time but it was probably 9: or 10:pm. it did look like a dying firework.

I saw this object just after dusk yesterday evening from the parking lot of a motel along Rte. 50 near Ocean City, Maryland. From our position it looked as though the object was due west of our observation point. It was a spectacular flare, but the smoke trail was what I thought was so remarkable. The object was first observed about 60 degrees above the horizon and it broke up at about 15 degrees or so.

I saw it from Blacksburg, VA. I was looking Northeast when I saw it, along a line that would approximately intersect DC from Blacksburg. The time was 5:38. I did not see it until it was very low in the sky due to the sun that was still setting. It was still very bright when it dropped below the horizon. It appeared to be traveling straight down, unlike any other meteor I've ever seen.

Saw the 5:38 pm EST one from near Broadcway, VA. It was very bright - yellow/orange flame looking and had a blue/green plume behind it (color of copper burning) .

Appeared to be going west to east and burnt up about 10 deg above horizon.

A friend at the NRAO Greenbank telescope also saw the 2nd one on his way home from work.

Saw a less spectacular one at about 5:57pm. Same path. More white, and continued over the horizon (Massanutten Mountain)

I saw this while driving, and due to the spiral trail it left, I was initially worried maybe it was some kind of aircraft that was spiraling as it fell. I'm glad to read that it was a meteor instead. I was driving on Harewood Rd. towards Ebenezer Rd. at the time it fell, and saw it through my windshield.

Heading south on Route 1 (City Avenue) just outside of Philadelphia County. Saw the meteor which to me looked bright white, had a small tail when I saw it (headed home from work, 5:30 - 5:45 ish), traveling very fast such that it remained in my field of view x approximately 0.5 seconds. It was traveling the same direction I was (I don't believe City Avenue heads true south but think it is more southwest). It was 35-45 degrees off the horizon.

I should add this was shortly before 6:00 PM, so the comments above that indicate 5:40 as the time seem pretty accurate relative to my own experience.

I was wondering if anybody seen this and it must have been brighter in the Balt area. I saw this in Cary NC. coming home from work. I was facing northeast and it was approx 25-35 degrees above coming straight down. Didn't last long for me. I can probably give more exact coordinates if needed as I was on my steet when it happened.

I saw the meteor while driving in Mechanicsburg, PA on my way back to Gaithersburg. My girlfriend also saw it while walking our dog in Gaithersburg. I initially thought it was a firework then realized it may be a meteor.

On Monday 1/18/10 my boyfriend and I were driving southbound on Rt. 1 New Jersey between Princeton and Plainsboro. A large brilliant object was falling quickly towards the horizon directly below the moon. Time was 5:38 pm and appeared southwest of our location. It was so stunning and eye catching that I intentionally noted the time. We exited at Rt. 95 from Rt.1 towards Yardley PA looking at the horizon where the object fell thinking we would see smoke from impact. There was no way to tell how distant it was but it appeared large in comparison to the moon and star/planet directly below the moon. Wonderful experience. Has anyone learned about where it may have landed?

My daughter and I both saw this meteor while traveling north on I95 about 15 miles south of Richmond on 1/18/09 at about 5:40pm. It was very bright and white. It seemed to separate as it fell to earth.

I am from Central Virginia and saw this amber "fireball" fly through the sky towards the southwest with a beautiful tail behind it. It was about 9:30pm. I've seen "falling stars" before but this was the largest one I have ever seen!

I saw this too from my condo window in Silver Spring, MD when I was looking at the pretty sunset against a blue sky at 5:38 PM. It was the most vivid meteor I have ever seen! It looked like a single firework or flare, it was so bright. It was in the SW sky about 45 degree angle from the ground. It was multi-color and I saw the trail disintegrate slowly just like the photo that someone posted here. How awesome!

I saw the meteor in the SW (from Newark Delaware) about 5:40 last evening, the 18th. A bright orange-yellow light descending.

I saw the meteor in the still lit twilight sky as I was driving home along Lawyers Hill Road parallel to Route 1, just south of the Patapsco River. I was looking at the beautiful crescent moon when the meteor streamed slightly to the left and then below to the left of the moon, where it seemed to break into several pieces. I was alone, but exclaimed "Whoa!" when I saw it. I believe it was bright white in parts, with more golden hue in the trail. It did not extend too far below the moon before ending in a flash or smaller pieces, but the trail of light was several moon diameters in length. I did not see it for as long as some others reported...I would guess 2 - 3 seconds. Not the first of these I have seen in my almost 70 years. I remember at least three others. The brightest occured when I was leaving someone's house, and was saying goodbye to them facing the house. The meteor was so bright the house lit up, and I turned to see the bright white fireball.

I also saw a meterorite as I was driving south on 83. Approx. at a 45% angle from the west to the southeast. However the time was 9:45PM, it was very bright with the usual trail of particals. The last time I saw one that bright was in the late sixties as a kid and it was reported to have landed somewhere around Niagra Falls.

We saw it to.My husband and I were going south on 522 south of mount union,pa. at about 5:30p.m. Jan.18 it was like a fire ball red,green and blue.but un-like the others we observed no trail of smoke.We contined past our desination on purpose to see if there was a smoke trail.But observed nothing.It was just there falling very very fast then nothing.Un-believable!!But so glad we got to see it.WOW

Instantly thought it was a very bright falling star, but realized it had a red tail. I then thought it could horribly have been a plane or shuttle on fire, afraid it had exploded,... terrorists...many things on the mind! I called it a ball of fire as well. I am so glad it was just a meteor.
I am in St Mary's County. I was at a light in a southeasterly direction. It appeared straight ahead and slightly to the left. Disappeared I'd guess about 23 degrees up from the horizon.
I thought it was falling in a SE direction, ever so slightly...which is contrary to all these other reports of it heading SW...but I am sure that's how I saw it. The first pic on this link I rotated clockwise and it is Exactly what I witnessed.
Very awesome to have seen it...and I am glad I wasn't the only one, I had no idea it would be so widespread. :-)
Hope this is helpful.

It appeared over Richmond Virginia, dropping about WNW.

Great to see all of these postings, My location was Roanoke VA, in the southwestern corner of VA. To me the view of this Meteor/Fireball was at 5:35 or so tracking to North East from our point of view. The main portion of the object had a greenish to blue glow to the main body with a yellow to light orange halo and tail. Briliant sight, reminded me of a similar sight tracking in the same direction that I saw when I was younger say late 1980's to early 1990's what I remember most is the greenish glow of both cool!

FR: Interesting. From Roanoke, the meteor appeared to fall in the northeast. From Baltimore and points north and east, it fell to the southwest. That would seem to drop any surviving fragments somewhere in Northern Virginia.

I Live Near Center City Philadelphia. PA, I was on my way home from work at 5:38pm on monday heading South On I-95 when I saw what I thought was a plane or helicopter exploding in the air. I talked to one of my customers that live just outside the city and his wife saw the same thing but said it was a meteor.

I saw it too! 1/18/10 between 5:30-5:45pm I'm from Reading PA and I was in the car with my wife and child. We were traveling west next to the VF Outlet, while I was talking to my wife I saw a flaming green image out the window with a tail that sparkled falling down south of us, I told my wife to look but by the time she and my daughter looked it was gone. The most amazing thing I've ever seen, sooooo happy I was not the only person to see this...........

I saw this amazing sight on Monday evening around 5:40 PM as I was driving towards Charlotteville, VA, north on route 29. I was somewhere between Covesville and North Garden and glanced to my right and falling out of the sky was this bright white ball of light with a glowing tail. I was stunned at first, then I thought that maybe it was a type of flare, and then I realized that it could be a meteorite. It was right above the tree tops and then it disappeared appearing to fall down into the woods. It happened very fast and it was thrilling to see something so unusual. I'm so glad that so many others saw it too!

My wife and I saw this as we stood on our dock on the Metedeconk River in Ocean County, NJ. We were looking southwest as it was beginning to get dark. It seemed like a large object, we were surprised.

I saw this meteor while flying from Alaska to Quebec at about the time of entrance into the Earth's troposphere.

FR: Thanks. Can you include your location, the direction you were looking and the time?

My son and I both witnessed a white light falling straight down from the sky at 5:58pm January 18 in the Easton, PA area. This area would be close to Wayne's posting from Bethlehem/Allentown..only a different time. The light didn't seem to fizzle out as it was falling, either. Here's the real STRANGE thing though...the time of 5:38pm. Because that is the EXACT time that I saw this light falling last Tuesday, Jan 12th on Route 78 W in NJ around Jugtown Mtn area. I even made my sister report it to the State Police barracks in Perryville, NJ the next day. They had no other report of the light in the sky.

At about 7:15 PM Monday night in Crozet, VA, I saw a bright flash of white light, illuminating trees, accompanied by a very loud boom. I was just stepping out of my car at the time and did not see any object in the sky.

I was on Route 130 South near Pennsauken coming out of the rental place and saw the image at around 5:40pm. Still wondering what I actually saw in the sky that night. Things happen for a reason.

Jan 18th, 2010, I saw what appeared to be a large ball of fire w/ a long tail of fire fall f/ the sky. Direction was about NW of where we live in NC. It was very dark outside when I saw it; I'm guessing about 8:30-9:00pm... not really sure exactly, but it was pitch dark outside.

FR: Sounds like a different event, perhaps the 9:30 meteor some have reported.

a hiss that I felt as much as heard, a bright flash of white light, immediately followed by loud boom, just west of Charlottesville, Virginia about 19:10, Monday, 18 January, 2010

I saw the "light" on Route 130 South in Pennsauken Monday night 1/18.

I saw the fireball/meteor everyone is talking about on here. It was 5:40 EDT on Jan 18th. I was driving south on RT 476 approaching RT 1 exit. IT was coming straight down and had a HUGE trail of smoke with it. I would love to know how close to the ground it was because it felt like it was very close. Last night- Jan 19th, my wife spotted 2 meteors, and was able to take pictures of them.

We were driving south on the New Jersey turnpike (probably about 20 miles from the NJ/Delaware line) when I saw the meteor and trail (S/SW direction; maybe 30-45 degrees off the horizon). I am surprised that it seems to have been so far away. It was a very bright turquoise light during twilight, leaving a clear trail that persisted.

My husband and I saw the later fireball at around 9:30pm in Forest, VA (between Lynchburg and Roanoke) in the southwest or westerly sky. It was about 75-80 degrees above the horizon and streaked in a slightly downward direction from west to south, disappearing at maybe 60-65 degrees. It lasted a few seconds - long enough for me to yell, "look" to my husband and he turned and saw it as it was disappearing. I saw it as soon as it appeared (looking at stars in that direction) and it was huge, orange and had a long tail. It made a very bright flash that lit up the sky as it appeared. I happened to be on the phone talking to a very knowledgeable amateur astronomer friend who told me it was a fireball. I have seen meteor showers but they are small like stars, but never something like this. It was huge and colorful.

I was traveling on 64W in Norfolk where the split is to go to 564 toward Norfolk Naval Base when in the sky i saw a ball of light bright as could be. The light went out and i saw a black ball for a brief second. I am glad i was not the only one to witness this event!

i saw it in the south western sky from baltimore city it was right below the moon and lasted for 4 seconds it was like a ball of fire! hope this helps! :-)

I saw this same thing. I live in Northern VA, and was on may way home and looked up and saw what looked like a "fireball" in the sky. It lasted only seconds, still, it's the very first one I've ever seen. Fantastic!

I live in Chesterfield, VA up on a hill at the Richmond city line and saw the fireball shoot down in the Southwestern sky at around 9:30-10pm. It was so fast that all I saw was a large bright ball as it streaked down behind the trees.

My wife and I were driving south on the NJ turnpike 1 exit away from Delaware when about 5:35ish, with my eyes fixed on the road, I saw an object come down from the sky perpendicular with a trail of light and then a few seconds later it blew up like a firecracker(bright light) then it disappeared and left a trail of smoke,45 deg angle to the right. As this is happening, my wife is getting her phone to take a picture of the trail left behind. We immediately thought it was a small plane or meteor since it was clearly too big, and to come from so high in the sky to be fireworks. It was a beautiful sunset with a twilight lingering sky.The radio, a few minutes later said that reports had come in from all over regarding something in the sky as well.
We are glad to here that others reported seeing the same and it wasn't a plane. This is a first for us.
Where do we send our photo?

I may know where it landed! The time matches perfectly. My doctor's office is located on Route 1 in Lorton, Virginia. He told me today that while seeing patients Monday evening (they close at 6pm), they were terrified by a boom, went to exam room 2 from which a patient had left minutes before, and found a hole through the roof, ceiling, and a sizzling "rock" - about the size of a mango - which had torn into the carpeted concrete floor! He thought it had made one of Tuesday evening's 11 o'clock news shows. Utterly amazing!

I saw this as well around 5:30pm Monday evening. I thought at first that it was a shooting star but then of course realized it was too large to be that and in fact was more likely to be a meteor. It looked like a ball of fire flying through the sky and within 5 seconds dissipated leaving only a trail of smoke behind. It was amazing. I feel lucky to have seen something so beautiful. Definitely a memorable life experience.

I was driving home, must have been around 5:30 ish. I was headed south on 287 in NJ. and in front of me was the cresent moon and a bright star. To my right about 35 degrees was this bright golden ball flying through the sky. I have seen shooting stars once or twice before, this was so much bigger than any of those. I remember thinking how big it was and close to land, that it could hit land, I thought perhaps south Jersey or another state. I am relieved to know others saw it too.

I saw this in Mcallen Texas the bottom tip of texas .I saw it at 1812 (6:12pm)central standard time .

Just read some posts on the local Astronomy club listservs about reports of a meteor strike on a building around Lorton. Fragments were recovered and, reportedly, are in the possesion of the Smithsonian for identification and verification

I was driving from Milford to Dover (Delaware) around 5:40pm and saw this, immediately thinking, "wow, that has to be close!" Reading the comments posted here it's amazing to see how far away this was visible. My thoughts were that it was space debris or perhaps something fell off a commercial plane. The bright light was a white-yellowish color and had a visible smoke trail. It was an amazing sight -- something I've never witnessed as close by as it was. (Jeff Smith - Milford, DE)

I too saw the meteor.I was in my spa tub looking at the beautifulred evening sky and i saw what looked like a huge ball of fire with red and white trailing behind it.
I live on Kent Island, MD.What an awesome sight to view....

The 1st picture is similar to what I saw, and the pictrure of the actual tail is exact--I distictly remember the "kink". Im glad a lot of people were able to see it. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

I was in downtown Glen Burnie when I caught sight of a bright meteor. It was just before 6pm (I had just pulled up to a shop to unload some stuff from my car and parked in the "free after 6pm zone"; I was running late and pulled into the spot right before 6p). The meteor was heading straight down, towards the south, breaking up into 4-6 pieces just before it vanished about 15-20 degrees above the horizon. I don't know how high up it was when it first appeared. Given all the lights in Glen Burnie, the sky appeared darker than it probably was, and I did not notice the train (smoke trail) that others got to see.

I was driving home from work traveling through Petersburg, VA on 95-N Monday p.m. and on cell phone when I saw what appeared to be a falling star. This was at dusk and very unusual as I had to quit talking and utter a “WOW! Just a minute.” I immediately thought it might be some failed ordinance at Fort Lee, VA as the falling ufo was directly over the nearby installation.

What appeared to be something that was maybe a couple 2-3 miles away, was in fact 113 MILES AWAY! Thank goodness no one was hurt

I was sitting in my living room in Norfol, Looking out my window toward the North, over the Chesapeake Bay and saw it. It was really cool. Glad others saw it too.

I am so glad to find out someone else saw this!! I asked several people that I came in contact with Monday evening and no one but me saw it, was beginning to think I was losing my mind... It was approx. 5:45. I had just made a left turn onto the road I live on and saw it out of my driver's side window. It looked like a small explosion, similar to what you see when you fire a flare gun, with a smoky trail. I was traveling north, just east of Rt 13 in Delmar, DE. The explosion in the sky was west of me. I was on the phone with a friend and she saw it at the exact same time. She was on North Salisbury Blvd in Salisbury, MD. Not sure which direction she was facing.

I saw this on Monday evening in the Richmond, VA. area. I was traveling on Interstate 64 East near I295. It was a huge fireball falling from the North heading South. It looked like it was almost overhead.

FR: Looks like it was almost overhead. At least part of it fell in Lorton.

Was just west of Elkton, MD on a hilltop picking up goose decoys when we had a beautiful view of this event. At about 5:40 PM we saw a green meteor that split in two pieces, leaving an incredible con-trail. Probably the longest lasting trail I've ever witnessed. No sonic boom. Initiated at about 45 degrees above the western horizon, terminated at about 15-20 degrees. The con-trail was NOT irredescent, it simply refracted the evening sun's light. Sundown was at 5:06 PM that evening (as all waterfowlers should know).

Residents of Lorton & Surrounding Area Are Encouraged To Report Strange Black Rocks That might be meteorites from this meteorite fall.

People should be on the lookout for black rocks, with fusion crust. The interiors of the Lorton meteorite is light gray in color. Some stones may have hit other objects. Most meteorites also contain iron so most are attracted to a magnet.

Check yards, roads, sidewalks, baseball fields, farm fields or anywhere else meteorites could have fallen. Also, the meteorites from this fall could have impacted cars, windows, or other fragile objects and would product some damage. If you have property that has "weird" damage it could be from a meteorite. Look around on the ground!

Meteorites from this fall can be anywhere around the area of the current find that struck the dental office building unless that marks the spot of the far end of the meteorite strewnfield.

If You Have a Suspected Meteorite Report It

If You Think You Have a Possible Meteorite Email Us at (eric AT or Call – 760-522-2152

We will verify it’s authenticity and possibly purchase the meteorite or help find you a buyer. We have relationships with scientists, universities, museums, and private collectors all over the world and they may want a fragment of this meteorite for study and collection.

Please include any photos of the stone(s), coordinates etc with your report. Document everything possible, coordinates, photos, video if possible.

Please photograph the suspect meteorite “before” picking it up from it’s location. Record the spot where you found it with a GPS if you have one and Email Us photos or video.

SURVEILLANCE VIDEO: Check Your Cameras! If you own a local bank, gas station, storage facility or any other property which has video surveillance cameras installed check your archives on Monday the 18th around 5:40pm EST. There's a chance that this meteorite fireball was caught on tape.

Thanks, and if you have any questions about meteorites, where they come from, and what they are, please contact us, we'll be glad to answer any questions you have.

Meteorites USA

My fiance and I were driving back to DC from Philadelphia on Monday evening. At about 5:40 or so we spotted a very bright flash of pink, orange and blue descending through the sky at dusk leaving a smoke trail that looked just like the one in the final picture above. The object appeared to be southwest of us as we were driving on I-95 near Wilmington and appeared to be falling nearly vertically (90 degrees to the horizon). We figured it was space debris or a meteor, but thought it was much much closer to us than Lorton, VA. Guess that's just perspective, however

Saw the meteor very low in the sky Monday night around 9:30 or so. Was traveling North on U.S. 1 highway in N.C. Looking west out of the car window. Location at the time was near Wake Forest, N.C. just north of Raleigh.

There's one thing relative to its position that I don't see covered in other posts: the position relative to the moon. My 14-year-old son saw it first, looking south/southwest from our yard near Cabin John, Maryland -- that is, looking across the river to Great Falls, Virginia. At his startled reaction, I looked up, but initially thought he was looking only at the sliver moon, but then saw the meteor trail. It was to the left and slightly below the moon. Otherwise, the timing and appearance are consistent with your other reports. We did count more than one bright glowing circle in the squiggly trail. What were those -- pieces breaking off and flaming out? We were really worried it was a plane breaking apart!

We saw it while travelling south on I-270 just past Sugarloaf. The white streak went right down the center of my van windshield. The smoke trail was interesting, Wifey said it had long lasting sparkles in it.

I saw the Fireball from my house in West Chester, PA. I saw it streak across the sky, it was huge! Like in the pictures above I noticed the green head and fire sparking tail... It was moving SW or SSW.

My children and I were walking in our Ijamsville, MD neighborhood just after 5:30 pm. A bright flash of light caught my daughter Madeline's eye. We looked up in the southeastern sky and saw a streak of pink, orange and blue light descending through the sky leaving a smoke trail. The trail remained visible in the for several minutes. It was an amazing thing to see. The kids are still talking about it.

I think I saw the same thing, it was around 5:30 and I was on my deck when I saw this huge bright light moving from over the ocean rapidly west-southwest towards land. The smoke trail left behind was not in color as other sightings have said, it was a pale grey following the bright orange/red object

Ocean City, MD.

I saw two bodies answering to this general description, several minutes apart, somewhat after five but before full dark, while driving toward Warrenton, VA from Shenandoah National Park along US 211. I've seen these before but never before dark. I saw each body through the top left corner of my windshield.

I saw a streak and a spark-emitting flash from Fairfax, on Monday evening at twilight. It was headed to the south, about 60 degrees above horizon. No accompanying sound, and no visible smoke trail. It seemed like it had to be something entering the atmosphere, but it was so bright and seemingly close!

I was walking westward Monday evening on Beech St NW, near the DC/Maryland border at Western Avenue, when the meteor caught my eye almost directly above me as it seared across the sky heading roughly southwest, at about 5:40 pm. As the reader in nearby Cabin John, MD described, it was lower and slightly to the "left" of the moon, and disappeared from sight beyond a strip of woods to my left (south), leaving the same kinky, colorful trail in the snapshot above. It was the brilliance of the meteor that prompted me to look up as it entered my peripheral vision - much brighter than a jet or star - and when I saw its speed and sparking trail, it was obvious it was something unique. It was quite magical, and I wondered how many others were witnessing the same - now I have an idea, thanks to this blog! You probably already know that the Washington Post confirmed the Lorton doctor's office "landing" of the meteor, today.

I saw it at 5:39 pm. I was about 5 miles northwest of Philadelphia driving west and saw it fall from the sky from what I think was a southwest direction -- it was quite striking since the sky was very clear and the moon and a planet (Jupiter?) appeared just behind it -- glad others saw it so it wasn't just me ---

I was driving to the Henrico Juvenile Detention Center Monday evening, January 18th, heading north on Springfield Road in Richmond's west-end, about 5:40 or so. All of a sudden, I saw a bright light falling pretty much straight toward the earth at a fast rate of speed. I told my wife about it later, as it seemed much brighter and well-defined than any "falling stars" I'd ever seen before. Didn't hear any noise - it was like a "did I really just see that" experience.

My wife and I were driving around 5:40 in eastern NC. We were driving in a northward direction when we saw a ball of light decending toward the ground directly ahead of us. We thought it must be fireworks or something but it sounds like it was this meteor.

I live in Greensboro, NC and saw this at approx. the same time. I had just left work and was traveling North thru downtown when I saw a streak of light and then what appeared to be a small explosion.

I was driving west on 273 towards Rising Sun at 5:40 coming home when this pillar or fire, or whaterer it was appeared in the sky to the south of me. It looked very close, maybe 3 or 4 miles away. Was glad to find this post, thought I was crazy because I couldn't find anybody else around here that saw it.

We saw it too!! We went to the Parkville highschool and were outside playing tennis. My entire family all seven kids, my husband and I saw it! My husband thought it might be space junk re-entering the atmosphere. I'm so glad we aren't the only ones!!!

My husband, Mike, and I were outside commenting on the vivid sunset, when I saw a fireball trail across the sky directly overhead. It continued southwesterly to the horizon like a sparkling firework, leaving behind a squiggly trail of smoke. After some initial researching, Mike thought it might be space junk re-entering the atmosphere. Pretty amazed to hear of its meteoric end!

The meteor at 530 pm hit a doctors office in Lorton VA.

I saw a bright blue/green flash across the sky while heading north around 5:20pm. I live in Grandy, NC, just north of the Outer Banks. I'm glad to know others saw this too. It was spectacular.

I saw the same thing in Greenville, NC. I was driving home after picking up my child from daycare and saw a bright fireball falling from the sky. I was traveling north and the fireball appeared to be straight in front of me and maybe a little to the west. It was an amazing and surprising sight.

My wife and I were traveling due south on Route 5 in Southern Maryland towards Leonardtown. The object appered in the SSE sky in front of us, traveling due south for about 3 to 5 seconds with a long tail. Color at the ball appeared to have a greenish hue similar to the color of flames given off from heated copper. Very neat thing to see.

I saw this meteroite at around ~5:30p Monday while driving with my wife and four kids to Cracker Barrel in New Stanton, PA (western PA) on I-70. Beautiful bright end trail like a firework..

I was in Harrington DE, driving south towards Annapolis, Md and I noticed a bright light descending from the sky. At first I thought it was a shooting star, (never have I seen anything such as this in my life being a city girl), so of course I quickly made a wish to win the MegaMillions Jackpot. But, my brother quickly informed me that it was not a shooting star that we had witnessed because of the trail of smoke that followed the bright light so it had to be a meteor. (So much for my Megamillions wish) : )

FR: Don't give up. "Shooting star" is just a poetic name for meteors.

I saw it in Carlisle, PA. The sky was still light and I saw it directly in front of me as I was coming down a hill out of a neighborhood. My daughter was in the car with me, and I had enough time to get her attention so she'd look up, and we both watched for at least another couple of seconds after that. It was bright green, but there were a lot of other colors glowing around it. We didn't see the smoke trail that others have mentioned, but it appeared to go straight down from our vantage point. It disappeared from sight at the treeline, and I thought it (not knowing what I'd seen) had crashed within a couple miles of us. We drove around a little looking for smoke and listening for sirens. When we got home we watched for something on the news but didn't hear anything until Thursday when they reported it on the news. So glad I saw it and that I'm not crazy!

I was headed West in one of the Richmond, VA suburbs around 9:30 PM. I looked up in the sky and saw a bright star. All of a sudden, it descended very rapidly, leaving a bright trail. Then, there was a POOF and a bright orange explosion. I figured it was a meteor, but I had never seen anything like that before. I used to stay outside all night and watch the August meteor shower, but this was not like that. It was spectacular and very dramatic!

FR:This was different than the usual meteors, which are caused by tiny objects the size of sand or pebbles. This was the size of your fist, and created what's called a fireball meteor. Imagine one the size of Baltimore and you get a sense of why scientists worry about near-Earth asteroids. BTW, the object you saw at 9:30 was not the object that fell in Lorton. That was a separate fireball reported here by several other observers.

Around sunset, Monday night my daughter and I were walking in Columbia Md. when we saw the meteor in the sky. It was beneath the moon to the left. SSW? It appeared only briefly but the "head" was a brilliant white. Almost like burning magnesium. It appeared suddenly but briefly then there was this "crackle" sound and it disappeared. Took a cell phone camera shot of the smoke trial. Once the sunset, you couldn't see the trail anymore. Pretty cool.

I was at a stop sign in Lower Macungie, Pennsylvania, when this meteor came burning through the sky, it had a tail to it and pulsed with flames. I was facing southwest and the meteor appeared to follow a southwestern course. I saw it for a few seconds. I immediately called some family nearby at 5:38 on Monday January 21, 2010. I was expecting to see the sky light up when it crashed. I never saw a meteor that close before.

My girlfriend and I were walking along Loch Raven Reservoir, North of Baltimore, Monday, Jan. 18th, at dusk. I don't remember the exact time, but it was near sunset, maybe around 5:30 PM or so.

We commented on the crescent moon off to our left. Then, my girlfriend saw something and I looked up and saw a bright white object with white streams coming straight down in front of us from about 30 or 45 degrees or so up from the horizon (when I looked).

I'm glad others saw what we saw. It didn't appear to be a model rocket or firework so I suspected it might be a meteor. But, we heard no sound and didn't know where it may have landed and weren't sure what it was.

Very cool. I had my Flip video camera, but it wasn't on at the time and I wouldn't have had time to turn it on -- too bad... I'd be rich and famous... maybe. ;).

My boyfriend and I were walking the Merryman Trail in Loch Raven where the trail lies right next to the Reservoir on Monday at twilight when we saw what looked like a bright white flare fall vertically from the sky straight down into the Reservoir in front of us. At first thinking it was a flare or firework, we quickly realized there were no homes nor other hikers anywhere nearby. So what we must have seen was a fragment of the original meteor. I told him I sure hope the legends and folklore about these things are not true.

Last night, Jan 22 at around 7:28 pm I took the dog out for a walk at home in Cecil County, MD and saw a bright orange fire ball coming from the NE heading toward the Chesapeake Bay. I watched it go right over head and trail off in the distance. When I turned to go turn out the flood lights, another one came right behind it in the same direction. It was an awesome sight!

I saw it while walking my dog in Kintnersville, Bucks County, Pa. It looked like it was going to crash into the hill above my house, and I was waiting for some sort of explosion, but nothing. It was majestic.

I was driving SW on Monday evening, January 18. It was a few minutes after 5:35 (approximate).

The sky was in twilight, with a brilliant medium blue/purple above and a reddish hue below that extended about 25 degrees above the horizon.

I caught site of the long reddish streak about 45 degrees above the horizon. It was travelling in the downward direction of between about 6 and 7 o'clock.

In just a second in flared up to a brilliant greenish/white teardrop shaped fireball and continued rapidly downward with visible flaming effects.

My partner, Susan Duby, caught site of it about a second before it disappeard. And she describes the same appearance as I witnessed.

The object flared continuously until it seemed to burn out and disappear about 10 degrees above the horizon.

I was at a friend's house in the Lexington Park/Great Mills MD area last Monday, and was walking out to my vehicle to get something when a saw an object streak across the sky to the SW, traveling left-to-right. The trail was a briefly visible declining slope, probably about 20 degrees above the horizon.

My daughter was walking with me at the time and I remember asking her if she saw the meteor. A few days later, I heard about the doctors office in Lorton.

I saw it in Eldersburg MD. I thought it was fireworks at first because of the smoke trail, but there was no noise. Seemed to be pretty close to directly overhead... maybe a few degrees east. Travelling south.

We saw a meteor when we were just north of Richmond! We had just left the Parham Road area of Richmond about 5:15 p.m. on Monday January 18 and had started north toward Fbg. on I-95. The sky was still bright. We were just a little north of Richmond when my husband and I both saw the astounding sight. I exclaimed, "WHAT WAS THAT?!"

If I had to conjecture what it looked like, it appeared as though it were 50 feet directly overhead, traveling an exact course as we were, north along I-95. The leading edge was rounded and it streamed a two-foot wide white track behind it, appearing as though it were painting a white sparkling light road behind itself. We never saw the end of that sparkling light road, since the end of it must have stretched well behind our vehicle. (Of course, we had no reference point to gauge height or width. It must have been much higher and wider than it seemed.) It appeared to be going many times faster than we were traveling. The entire vision was an other-worldly sparkling white intense light. The white trail continued to stretch longer and longer as it shot north of us. We watched as it shot ahead of us overhead along the line of cars. The leading edge disappeared from sight and then instantly, as though a light switch had been turned off, the whole sparkling white trail instantly disappeared.

My first instinct was to slow down. No one else on the road did, however, so I had to resume my speed. We kept looking for holes in the road or damaged cars farther north, but there was no sign of any damage. We had no idea we had seen a meteor, but we were
pretty sure there was something airborne that was burning up. We knew that it couldn't be debris from an airplane because that would have necessitated a more vertical flight path. This flight path was definitely shooting horizontal. We were very curious to know what it was we had seen.

We returned home and pretty much forgot about the incident since none of the other cars on the highway seemed to be responding to the sight and there was no sign of any damage along the way.

We live in Seaford Delaware and on Tueseday my father found an unusual piece of rock next to his outside grill and patio. The area is usual very clean and clear and walked everyday with day. Its about 6 inches long and 31/2 inches wide looks as if had been very hot and has holes in the piece on all sides. It does not look like a volcanic rock but the holes look consistant of either gas pockets or the ore in the rock had melted out only leaving the rock with holes were the ore was

FR: Go to this Web site, run your rock through their tests, view the videos and see whether it passes. Only one rock in a thousand will. Good luck.

Regarding the "meteor" reported by many observers in different states, I actually watched the object descend in the Millsboro, DE area. I have just posted the following on a Public Issues Forum in Delaware:

"Regarding the meteor reported on January 18th around 5:40 PM, I watched it from another angle in Millsboro, DE looking from the main gatehouse at the Peninsula on the Indian River Bay (gated community) on Bay Farm Road. What appeared to be a meteor, at first, a yellow circle of light descending in broad daylight, turned into what I would describe as a twisting piece of metal with flames engulfing the object on all sides. It then slowed and dropped straight down toward the northwest, still twisting in flames. I thought then it must be a piece of a plane or space debris. I would estimate it fell to earth somewhere between Bay Farm Road and Mount Joy Road. I lost visual site of the object as it dropped below the tree line to the northwest. The flames were so thick, I expected the fire pager in the gatehouse to announce some sort of fire emergency, but nothing was reported. Surely, someone driving on Route 24 in the Oak Orchard or Ling Neck area must have seen the object drop, too. Nice to find out I was not seeing things!"

FR: It's been well-established that this was the meteorite that crashed through the roof of a doctor's office in Lorton, Va. These things always appear much closer than they are.

Wrong direction (Virginia)! The gatehouse windows face north/northwest. My guess is the report above from the observer in Elkton, MD may explain what I saw. That person reported the object breaking up into two pieces. I witnessed a very large piece of "something" in flames falling to earth which seconds before was a yellow flash higher in the atmosphere in the same trajectory.

FR: Lorton Va. (outside DC) is west northwest from Millsboro, DE. What you describe fits closely with the time and the many descriptions above of the Lorton meteorite.

I found two pieces of the Jan 20, 2010 meteor that hit the Doctor Frank Ciampi office in Lorton. How do I know it is it? Well I saw it come down burning through the trees. Forgot to go get it and than all the stupid Al Gore global warming snow came down and down and down. So I had to wait until it melted. Also I am a geologist and the rocks are magnetic, no visible grains and no crystallization.

FR: OK. Let's see a picture.

I live on the Chesapeake Bay in Lusby MD, I had a fantastic view of the meteor. It was approx 4:30am when my house lit up like a spot light was on it. I ran to my back deck overlooking the Bay to see the object as bright as a welder's arch streaking accros the sky over the bay where it exploded in a fantastic display.

Living on the Bay I have seen a lot of meteors but never anything like this. It was very large!

I saw the same type quite a few years ago while working at BWI, shortly after sunrise,,Better then that I found a small piece of meteorite. half the size of a small egg.
There was a report of another meteorite sighting just a few days ago.. heard about it on the radio.


I saw two meteors, one right after the other, streak across the length of the Orion constellation on January 19, 2010 @ 5:35 am PST. -Scotts Valley, CA

are those pics of this actual meteor or just stock??

FR: The top photo is the photo sent to me by a reader which, as he explains, is an image "from the internet" that LOOKS like what he saw. The second image, as the post explains, is an image of the smoke trail left by the Lorton meteorite in January.

I was traveling up 95 from Laurel just south of BWI at this time when I saw an green light traveling westward split into a myriad of green pieces/flashes of light showering forward before disappearing. It appeared to be quite close.

Tonight around 745pm I saw a twilight meteor from my couch while watching tv. In south Scottsdale of Thomas and Scottsdale rd. By the time I ran outside it was gone. It was Identical to the picture on the website at the top left corner.

FR REPLIES: Reports like this are useless unless you say where you are. Scottsdale, AZ? Also, which direction were you looking? Was the meteor traveling east to west? Southwest to northeast? How high in the sky? More information please.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About Frank Roylance
This site is the Maryland Weather archive. The current Maryland Weather blog can be found here.
Frank Roylance is a reporter for The Baltimore Sun. He came to Baltimore from New Bedford, Mass. in 1980 to join the old Evening Sun. He moved to the morning Sun when the papers merged in 1992, and has spent most of his time since covering science, including astronomy and the weather. One of The Baltimore Sun's first online Web logs, the Weather Blog debuted in October 2004. In June 2006 Frank also began writing comments on local weather and stargazing for The Baltimore Sun's print Weather Page. Frank also answers readers’ weather queries for the newspaper and the blog. Frank Roylance retired in October 2011. Maryland Weather is now being updated by members of The Baltimore Sun staff

Sign up for FREE weather alerts*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for weather text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Maryland Weather Center

Area Weather Stations
Resources and Sun coverage
• Weather news

• Readers' photos

• Data from the The Sun's weather station

• 2011 stargazers' calendar

• Become a backyard astronomer in five simple steps

• Baltimore Weather Archive
Daily airport weather data for Baltimore from 1948 to today

• National Weather Service:
Sterling Forecast Office

• Capital Weather Gang:
Washington Post weather blog

• CoCoRaHS:
Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. Local observations by volunteers

• Weather Bug:
Webcams across the state

• National Data Buoy Center:
Weather and ocean data from bay and ocean buoys

• U.S. Drought Monitor:
Weekly maps of drought conditions in the U.S.

• USGS Earthquake Hazards Program:
Real-time data on earthquakes

• Water data:
From the USGS, Maryland

• National Hurricane Center

• Air Now:
Government site for air quality information

• NWS Climate Prediction Center:
Long-term and seasonal forecasts

• U.S. Climate at a Glance:
NOAA interactive site for past climate data, national, state and city

• Clear Sky Clock:
Clear sky alerts for stargazers


• Hubblesite:
Home page for Hubble Space Telescope

• Heavens Above:
Everything for the backyard stargazer, tailored to your location

• NASA Eclipse Home Page:
Centuries of eclipse predictions

• Cruise Critic: Hurricane Zone:
Check to see how hurricanes may affect your cruise schedule

• Warming World:
NASA explains the science of climate change with articles, videos, “data visualizations,” and space-based imagery.

• What on Earth:
NASA blog on current research at the space agency.
Most Recent Comments
Blog updates
Recent updates to news blogs
 Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected