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December 29, 2010

Bright Md. meteor spotted Tuesday evening

I came back today to two reports of a bright meteor visible from Maryland Tuesday evening, Dec. 28, 2010. Details are still very sketchy. But 25-or-so other people from Virginia to New England spotted something similar at about the same time, according to fireball reports to the American Meteor Society web site.

If you spotted it, too, we'd love to get your descriptions.

Please leave a comment, and describe where you were, the time and date you saw the meteor, the direction you were looking and the direction of the meteor's duration, movement and approximate angle above the horizon.  As an example: "Meteor moved from 40 degrees above the northeast horizon to 20 degrees above the southeast horizon before disappearing..."  (On the horizon is zero degrees; straight up is 90 degrees.) Also include any color, visible trail or sounds.

The first report to us came from G. Mitchell, who emailed us at 9:18 p.m. Tuesday:

"Spotted a large geren meteor tonight, approx, 6:50 p.m., moving east to west, lasting about 6 sec. with a shower of green sparks following my location 5 miles south of Pocomoke City, Md."

The second came from a former Evening Sun colleague, Charles "Hap" Hazard. Still trying to reach him directly, but he left a message Tuesday night reporting a "bright red" meteor that "shot across the sky."  Hazard was "near the Beltway and Reisterstown Road."

I need more detail than that, Hap. Put on your reporter's hat and call me. Everyone else, please leave a comment below. And, obviously, if you happened to capture it on a security camera, still image or video, send it along! Thanks! 

Posted by Frank Roylance at 10:40 AM | | Comments (62)
Categories: Sky Watching


Definitely saw this last night as well. I was out walking my dog in Linthicum and around 6:50 I could see out of the corner of my eye a bright light in the sky. As I looked up I was looking north in the sky towards Baltimore when I saw a very large and bright flash up in the sky. It was moving fast so hard to tell where it was in the horizon, but something along the lines of 80 degrees moving towards 60 sounds about right. (I can say for certain it was moving from right to left across the horizon as I was facing North). For me it seemed mostly white, maybe a little greenish light. Very bright and very fast.

Darn! I always miss this stuff.

I thought I was crazy at the time, but I'm pretty sure I saw this last night (12/28/10)! I'm not sure of the exact time but it would have been a little before 7:00 pm. I was in the backseat of a car heading north on MD 295 near the Jessup/Hanover area. I saw a flash in the sky in front of the car, which means it was moving east to west. I thought it was a plane but the back seemed almost to be sparking with different colors, like a firework, and leaving a small trail behind it. It dipped down toward the horizon and then just disappeared. I can't be sure of the exact angels because I was in a car, but it seemed to be about the level of a low flying plane until arching down and disappearing. Hope this helps!

I saw a meteor on Tuesday evening around 6:50pm in Ellicott City, MD. I was traveling northbound on Route 29 between the Route 100 and Route 40 exits. I viewed the meteor and its visible trail in the upper right quadrant of my windshield (maybe about 60 degrees above the horizon?) It traveled from east to west and I saw it for about 3 seconds. If I put my fingers up in front of my face to "measure" the tail, it was 3-4" long.
Very cool sight; too bad it went by so fast I couldn't get my son in the backseat to see it in time!

My son and I were traveling on Solomans Island Rd going East at Rt 665 and saw a ball of fire coming out of the sky and burned up right in front of us. I/we thought it would hit us it had a tail on it saw it for about 30 seconds and it burned out.

My wife and I saw it last night in Bowie. From our backyard, facing East, we saw it travel from South to North almost parallel to the ground. It's path somewhat mirrored the approach of planes going into BWI so it caught our attention. Seemed to be about the same level that planes fly in but I'm sure that's just the perspective we saw it at. Pretty exciting!

This has the makings of a good one...

I saw it at 6:45pm on 12/28/10 in Somerville, MA, just outside of Boston. It was so bright and large I thought it was a firework at first. It was unlike anything I had seen before. It seemed to be falling just over the buildings ahead of us. It lasted several seconds and was falling at about a 45 degree angle.

FR: Please include directions. Which way were you facing? Which way did you see the meteor move? Thanks!

I spotted the meteor at approximately 1850HR in the southern sky. I am located about 30 miles south of Boston MA. The object was on a course approximately 80 degrees forom the horizion as viewed or 10 degrees off perpendicular. The object was glowing in a greenish white color and the plasma streak covered about 1/4th of the sky. As viewed the streak was about as thick as a pencil held at arms length.
It was a very spectacular light show.

FR: Directions please! Meteorite hunters study these comments to triangulate on any possible meteorite fall. Comments that don't say which way you were facing and how the mmeteor moved relative to your position are of little value. Thanks!

I was pulling into my neighborhood off Rt. 235 in Southern Maryland and saw this bright streak of fire in the north sky. It was moving east to west. My car radio clock showed 6:48.

The streak lasted about five or six seconds. I thought of two things when I saw it. First, maybe someone is celebrating New Years early and popped off some fireworks. Second, gosh that looks like the footage of the shuttle accident a few years ago as it broke up in the atmosphere.

The streak of light was white and yellow with greens and blues breaking off of it. I'd estimate that it was less than 45 degrees above the horizon.

I thought for sure it was just fireworks except our dinner guests arrived about 20 minutes later saying they saw the same thing through the trees from where they were driving 10 miles south.

I'd love to know if this actually landed somewhere.

I saw it last night at about 6:45 while I was walking in georgetown. it was off to the east, moving from southeast to north east, parallel to the horizon at about 45 degrees, "burning" out east, northeast relative to my position. the meteor seemed to be bright orange as if it were burning. I've seen many a shooting star in my time; this meteor caught my eye because it was (obviously) so much bigger, closer.

I was walking my dog in South Baltimore last night (12/28) and around 18:50 saw the meteor. Having recently become hooked on the show "Ancient Aliens," my heart skipped a beat and I mentally prepared myself (and my dog) for abduction. Anyway, it traveled from 30deg. in the SE sky straight across to 30deg. in the NE sky. Duration of about 3 seconds, white, with large tail. By far the largest I've ever seen.

I was driving on 29N to Charlottesville. Near Lovingston, I saw what looked like a huge meteor, with a giant tail, moving from east to west. It was to my right. I wasn't sure what it was...looked so close... I wondered if it were a firework.

I forgot to say that the time was about 6:45 PM last night, and that it seemed to be about 40 degrees and traveling at only a slight incline, maybe to 37, when it disappeared.

I thought I'd go online today (9/29/2010) to check if anyone else had witnessed this. I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me last night, but now after reading other accounts, I realize that I saw something remarkable. I was walking my dog last night in Severna Park shortly before 7:00 pm when my eyes caught a bright flash of light from the north. I looked up to catch a small bright white ball of light moving from my right to left with a lengthy tail emitting what looked like sparks. My guess is it was about 70 degrees above the horizon and lasted no more than 2 to 3 seconds. I wish it had lasted longer and I would gladly pay to see it again.

I saw a large meteor on 12/28/10 at 645pm. I was headed south on I-95 very close to the Burlington/Hwy3 exit in Mass. I-95 south at that location is almost directly west. The meteor was moving south to north. The tail was mostly white and the head was very irregularly shaped and had sharp edges. The head was sparking blue and green. It moved from about 90 to 45 degrees before disappearing. It did not go behind buildings or hills, it just disappeared at that point. Pretty amazing!

Saw this last night turning left from Devonshire place onto Connecticut ave (to Cleveland Park)

Almost looked like fireworks being shot across the rooftops (from right to left)

Lasted about 5 seconds

Mount Joy, PA. I was walking my dog sometime before 7PM on 12/28/10 and noticed that the sky brightened behind me. I thought it was a car coming over the small hill behind me, but I didn't hear anything coming. I turned around and saw what looked like a firework traveling West. I waited for a boom to scare my dog, but there was no sound. It just just had some "sparkles" coming from it and then went away. I wish I had turned around sooner!

I was outside running in Baltimore, MD when I saw a green fireball showering sparks streak across the sky. I Remember it being around 45 degrees elevation and travelling parallel to the horizon. I also remember a faint hissing sound, which made me think it was a man made firework until I read all of the above accounts.

FR: That's the first report I've seen of that sort of sound associated with this meteor. Fascinating. Scientists have long heard reports of a crackling or hissing sound accompanying a meteor. A few have been recorded. The cause remains a mystery, especially since observers say they've heard the hissing sound at the same time as they see the meteor. Because sound waves travel more slowly than light, the sound should follow the light by more than a few seconds, just as thunder follows lightning. Not so with these noises. And that has led to speculation that some sort of electromagnetic (light-speed) transmission is at work. Perhaps ionization of the atmosphere converts to radio waves, which convert to sound waves at the ear by some as-yet-unexplained mechanism.

We were on the Massachusetts Turnpike, heading westbound, about 3 mi east of the Upton/Marlborough border marker (near the I-495 crossing, but I forget if we'd passed that point or not), when we saw this at about 6:46pm.

It was huge, green, lasted several seconds, left a visible streak/trail. It crossed our position from left to right, and seemed quite low on the horizon.

It was nothing like the Perseid or Geminid meteor showers I've seen in the past. Several orders of magnitude lower, larger, and brighter.

I saw this as well, my report is already in the AMS database. To me it appeared to fly/fall directly overhead then off to the west (I live in Collegeville, PA)

I was driving north on Nutley in Vienna, VA, at 8:20pm on WEDNESDAY, 12/29 and saw a meteor enter my windshield view from above/east, it traveled in a downward arc westbound until I lost it behind the trees.

I also so this here just outside of Ocean City Maryland. We were traveling East on Bishopville RD just before 7PM. It was traveling from South East to North West, was very quick and Bright. I really thought it was a firework. Red ball, with Bright Green and white sparks behind it. Lasted about 3 seconds. I kept looking back as I was driving thinking I would see other fireworks. My wife told me to watch the road! I guess I was not seeing things.

i saw one tonight around 8:15pm i was facing north i believe and it went from right to left real quick from straight up to straight down but at a right to left angle very quick very bright and GREEN def was strange

FR: We need your location at the time you saw the Wednesday meteor. Thanks.

My wife and I saw it on N-81 in Staunton, VA at 6:45pm on Dec 28th. It was falling diagonally and had a long tail and a bulb in front and sparks flying off. We both said it looked like a comet. It was solid white when we saw it, only lasted for like 2 secs and we assumed it went behind the tree line. We couldn't find it again. Looked so close we were looking for fire or explosion in the distance.

Received this by email at 9:03 p.m. Wednesday, regarding the Wednesday meteor:

"About 15 minutes ago I saw a huge green meteorite traveling north west near Manassas Va, parallel to the Prince William Parkway while on my deck watching my dog. No sound to it, but quite bright and green, it then vanished like it burned up. Came across your article when I went online on google to try and figure out what I saw. Heard other people in my neighborhood shout out when it went pass. Wanted to pass it on to you in case it makes the news, Im sure others saw it in the Va and Maryland region.

"Regards, Kerry Meushaw, Manassas, VA"

My family and I saw it last evening around 6:50 while driving east on Rt 36 toward Milford, DE. First saw a flash which lit up the sky similar to lightning, then caught the fireball out of the corner of my eye, basically traveling north. Pretty neat since my son said that he had never seen a shooting star before, so he caught a good one.

I saw it driving from Patuxent River, MD over the bridge to Solomons Island, MD at about 6:45pm Dec 28. I was looking straight ahead and the meteor went from right to left at an angle of abut 60 degrees above the horizon for about 2 seconds.

I saw the very tail end of this one. I was traveling Eastbound on I-70, just past I-695 (near the end of I-70). I saw a flash in my peripheral vision and glanced out my left window and looked up. At about 70 degrees I saw the last few fragments of a meteor burning up as it was headed west from my viewpoint.

Oh, I forgot to mention the time was right at 6:50 PM.

Wed. 12/29/10, ~8:20pm: I had just stepped out of my car to pick something up at the CVS in Ashburn, VA (SW corner of Farmwell Rd and Ashburn Village Blvd) when I noticed a large, bright white object (with streaks of blue and red) streaking across the sky approx 60 degrees above the horizon. The object moved rapidly from the ESE to WNW before going behind some trees. It was pretty extraordinary. I am surprised to read of similar reports coming from MD on 12/28/10.

Was on my way to work, about 6:45 or 6:50 PM, saw what looked like a Large shooting star, bright white, going in a northeast to west direction. Then it exploded in sky, I thought it was a plane crashing in midair. Largest one I have ever witnessed, beautiful. This is in Roanoke Rapids,NC about 12 min from the virginia border.

yes i saw it to me and my friend were lookin at the clouds and we were u see tht and i was like yeah i see at first we thought it was a plane but then it was movin to fast and it was to big to be a plane lol and i was like thts like a comment or some thang and we went back home and told everyone and they were saying the we were trippin lol and we were like for real .. watch it will be on the news or some thang and .. i seee tht other people were seeing this all the way from VA, to maryland dang thts far lol... now i know in not trippin kuz i live in California ....


My husband and I were traveling NE on Telegraph Road at the Fairfax County Parkway in Lorton at about 6:45pm on Tuesday. We saw something that that was very bright and very close streaking across the sky headed N-NW. It did not have much arc and appeared fairly low in the sky. It had bright colors and sparks flying off of it. At first we thought it was a plane on fire, but the colors were more greens, blues and whites. We saw it for few seconds before it appeared to burst and burn out at the front with the tail disappearing after.

I live in northern Harford County. Last night at about 8:27 I saw what looked like a falling (not shooting) star. It was low in the WNW horizon and was blue-white and came straight down. It had a longish, rather bright white tail. Did anyone else see this?

i also saw this, i was sitting on my deck in harpers ferry,wv. around 6:50 pm on the 28th and saw a fireball in the eastern part of the sky and burnt out in about 5 secs. what an great sight to see.

I was in Northeastern PA, Southern NY for Christmas and saw it at about 45 degrees into the East/Southeast sky. It looked like a roman candle. It was very bright and lasted maybe 4-5 seconds leaving a very long vapor trail that caught the light but was not visible once the light was extinguished.

I saw this meteor from my parents house on the border of NY and PA. I was outside around 6:50 (based on the timestamp of my cell phone to call my brother at 6:56p. I turned around and caught it at about E/SE in the sky and 45 degrees and as it progressed for about 3-5 seconds, it appeared to increase in elevation to almost 50 degrees in the sky and it moved slowly for a meteor - probably 2x times faster than a regular aircraft might appear as it moves across the sky.

I heard no noise associated with it and my vantage point had no ambient noise to affect my perception. It left a "bright lunar white" and greenish trail and my immediate impression was that it was forming a rainbow effect as the light from the object shone through the trail.

We were traveling south on i95 (traveling from Maine to Mass.) just before turning onto 495 towards Worcester, MA, we saw a very bright streak from the sky, with some very 'hot colors', (bright green and yellows) mixed in.
It seemed to streak diagnally towards earth from a 10 o'clock position towards a 4 o'clock position, nearly directly in our front-view.
Very bright, very visible.

I viewed the meteor on Tuesday at 6:46 pm while running in Columbia, MD. It was to my north & streaked east-to-west across the sky at 40-degrees, then broke up into a bunch of colors and disappeared.

I was in Newton, MA, and saw the meteor when driving, facing roughly west; it was white-orange, with a tail, and moved at about 80 degrees from southwest to northwest, and then disappeared behind the trees.

I was on Route 128 South of Boston near Burlington, Ma At about 6:47PM I saw a bright meteor to my left at about s sw of where I was driving It lasted maybe a few seconds. It looked like it was coming down from about the 11:00 to about the 5:00 position on the clock.

I travel daily to Secaucus Train Station by 7 PM. On my last left turn, looking 2 o'clock to the right I saw a much bigger than normal star/meteor/debris falling angled down. It was 6:46 PM then. It was the brightest luminous white and the glow was like a star. I did not see a tail or anything else, but I coul dbe wrong as I was inside a vehicle. I was awestruck by the sight. I've seen shooting stars many times, but never this big. I feel blessed 3 mid Christmas and New Year. I wonder what that means?

I was in Newton, MA, and saw the meteor when driving west from Boston. It appeared straight ahead low and descending slowly to the right. South to Northwest. It was extremely bright white and looked like it had jagged edges. It appeared to be all fire. It looked like a plane coming in for a landing. I actually thought it was a plane on fire. It was that low and close to the earth. It was the size of a dime if I held one straight out in front of me. Amazing.

At 6:50 on December 28,2010, I noticed a green meteor flash across the sky from east to west with a long white tail. I am in the Chesapeake Beach, MD area

Saw the fireball lasting no more than a couple seconds while driving east on I-70 near Hagerstown, MD 12/28/10; did not note the time but shortly before 7pm EST would be about right. Bright white fireball with broad but not overly long tail heading across my direction of travel a bit lower in the sky than midway between horizon and straight overhead. Sighting ended when the ball flashed out.

To follow up on my previous comment... I was facing southwest and the meteor was moving south to west.

My uncle said he saw a large fireball over York, PA Wednesday Evening.

I saw a meteor streaming from east to west over Silver Spring on Thursday night (Dec 30)

FR: Quite a week for fireballs. I think this is the third since Tuesday.

I definitely saw a white fireball with a short tail between 6:45pm - 6:50pm on Tuesday, December 28th. I was on Tullamore Court in Manassas, VA facing East toward the Prince William Parkway direction. I believe it came from the South heading North West at a 45 degree angle. I saw a flash of light after it went below the treeline in front of me, so I know it hit the ground somewhere near Manassas, VA.

It was around 6:45pm 12/28/10.I live in Collegeville, PA, a suburb about 45 minutes west of Philadelphia. I was sitting on my front porch facing southwest. What I am about to describe all happened in about 4 to 5 seconds. The sky everywhere around me lit up like broad daylight, but unusually stayed lit lightly flickering. I heard a very distinctive hissing coming from straight above me. I looked up and actually saw a flaming ball shooting straight down in front of me as if to hit the ground. I could literally see the gases emiting from it. The trail of this meteor was as far as I could see behind it. The trail looked like a light star dust, but yet very bold. The hissing changed its tone as it descended, just like an airplane descends. I thought it was actually going to hit the ground. It looked so close as if it was within a mile or two. Then all of a sudden, before it looked like it was going to hit, the flaming ball appeared to dissinigrate with large crackeling sparks. They were very bright and very loud, as if a large firework had just crackeled in the sky right in front of me. I must say I have never seen anything like this and I have heard stories and watched shows about meteors that hit the earth every year. It was truly a sight to see and very nerving. It reminded me of the movie Deep Impact. It all happened so fast as I said earlier within 4 to 5 seconds. I do not think that you can describe what I saw any better than this. The sight and the sound are things that will live in my mind forever.

I saw this when i was outside on the trampoline and it was HUGE it scared me to death. It was very very bright and had a long streak at the end witch was blue and green. Moving at a very high rate of speed

i was on my trampoline and saw it tuesday evening and lasted about 4 seconds it looked yellow like a planes lights but in one second it turned into a blue fireball and bursted like sparks and went dim it was going e to w

Dec 28th, just before 7pm in Ocean City, MD- just as described by others, colorful 'fireball', white tail, sparking and trailing bits. Lasted about 3 secs.
I live at the MD/DE line at the ocean (easy to map)! Facing direct North, it was just slightly west and north. heading straight west (?). I'd guess 60* to 45*.

buffalo, ny at around 8:30pm . it was very bright green and red flashes, traveing almost parallel to the ground then it dropped towards the ground fast. i thought it was a plane crashing for a moment. my mother called me and said you'll never believe what i just saw. and she was 15 miles away. also on the new year around 1:30 am there was another sighting that a friend told me about. same thing bright green and red looking like a plane crashing. the first one happened on wed. 29, 2010

I'm just south of Lexington VA. I saw a meteor each night starting with the one on December 29 around 6:40 or so. We eat dinner at 6:30 and during dinner I saw a large Greenish fire ball heading north to north east. Very big and bright lasted only a few seconde. Next night it was after 8 when I saw a second meteor not as big as the night befor about the same duration heading north. On the 30th saw a smaller one very fast this was well after 8 and heading north.

FR: Based the reports of many others above, I'd say you saw your first meteor on the 28th, not the 29th.

I saw it. I was bugging , I thought it looked like something out of a movie. I was in Milford, PA standing on the porch looking EAST or SE not sure but it was blue, technicolor bluewhite. It was huge and fast and looked to burnout quickly. You could tell it was inside the atmosphere. Spectacular site. First thing I thought was "they're landing" (laughing). Not sure how funny that is. At least I wasn't the only one who saw it.

I saw a bright flash in the sky at about 6:50pm on Dec 28th in Lincoln University, PA.....I was outside with my dog and talking on the phone with a friend in Reading PA who saw the same exact bright flash of light.....

On Dec 28, I saw a streak of light with white, yellow, blue and green traveling east to west and then just diappeared. I was on Mechanicsville Rd in Southern MD. I called my daughter and the phone shows a time of 6:48.

It was absolutely incredible! I'd love to know what it was.

This was an amazing site!

My girlfriend and I were watching a movie with my son when we saw the streak out the back of my apartment.
The streaks were brilliant white and blue and lasted about 4-5 seconds. I seemed to me to be a single object that broke into many pieces as it entered the atmosphere. It has been a LONG time since I've seen anything that brilliant.
My girlfriend (not astronomy oriented) asked if it was a comet. :)

It was between 6:30 and 7:00 PM.
We were looking NNE (about 020 heading) from and about 30° up angle.

I am so excited that other people witnessed this! So i'm not crazy, cause I was by my self. It was between 6:45 and 6:50 p.m. on Dec-28-2010. I was driving west on interstate 90 in Grafton Mass when I looked to my left (witch must have been south because I was driving west) and a green meteor completely penetrated the atmosphere. From where I saw it it looked like it traveled from south east to north west. (I thought it crashed somewhere in Ct but who knows how far away it was.) It was a green fireball with a white sparkley stardusty tail that stretched long, and hung in the sky for about 5-8 sec. The ball definitely went below the tree line. I thought to my self "was I the only one who witnessed this?" It definitely hit the earth!
Keep your eyes in the sky...

Found a meteorite in the Westminster area. If you're interested in checking it out, or have any info on when it may have landed,, let me know. 1.5 x 1 inch, egg shaped..

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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

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