Mystery fireball seen streaking across sky in S California 2008-07-03 06:07:47   Print

    LOS ANGELES, July 2 (Xinhua) -- A mystery fireball was seen streaking across the sky over Southern California, The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday.

    Witnesses across Southern California said they saw an object moving very fast across the northern sky and falling near the San Bernardino Mountains near Los Angeles.

    San Bernardino County Fire Dispatch reported receiving dozens of calls related to a fireball moving at high speed in the northwest sky around 10:40 a.m. local time on Tuesday.

    "We got quite a few reports. It started with a gentlemen in the Lake Arrowhead area reporting a fireball in the Meadow Bay area, and then we started getting calls from all over," San Bernardino County dispatch supervisor Tom Barnes said.

    "Fire crews in Barstow and on I-15 near Stateline came up on the radio and reported an object in the sky moving very fast across the northern sky and described it as yellowish green in color with streaks of debris. It looked like it burned up before it hit the ground."

    Barnes said the department has "basically determined it was most likely not an aircraft and was probably man-made or a meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere."

    Meteors are small rocky fragments of other planetary bodies that fall toward Earth. Meteorites are what strikes the ground. Asteroids are larger meteors.

    A fireball is one of a common class of meteor, denoting a bright, streaming orb. Fireballs decelerate from 60,000 mph to 200mph during their journeys, often burning up before they fall to Earth.

    Studies have indicated that about 25 meteorites weighing more than a fifth of a pound fall on an area the size of California annually. Experts say about 300 to 400 larger meteorites fell on California during the last century.

    "Events like this do happen around the world. But a bright meteor is not something people would usually recognize in the day," said Lance Benner, a research scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Passadena of Los Angeles. "The eyewitness account suggests it was a small asteroid hitting the atmosphere."

Editor: Yan Liang
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