Bright flash before dawn likely a meteor


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — A widely seen bright flash just before 6:30 Wednesday morning that lit up the sky from the Ohio Valley to the East Coast was a bright meteor, according to Storm Team 4 meteorologist Ben Gelber.

Early Wednesday, a brilliant fireball was seen from southern Ontario across parts of Ohio and Kentucky, and east over the northern Appalachians to the Atlantic Coast.

Here’s a look at the meteor seen shortly before 6:25 a.m. Wednesday, heading east on I-70 just off of I-270. (Video Credit: Francheska Welsh)

The annual Taurid meteor shower in autumn is associated with the passage of Earth through a wide stream of debris left over from Comet Encke. Dust striking Earth’s upper atmosphere around 65,000 mph burns up, creating faint streaks of light or meteors, also referred to as shooting stars.

Meteorologist Ben Gelber explained that a fireball is an especially bright meteor that happens when Earth moves through larger fragments around the size of of a pebble that burn up in the atmosphere and leave a glowing stream. A large fireball us commonly caused by a bigger piece of debris, roughly the size of a softball or larger, and may be associated with a swarm of meteors.

The South Taurids peak on Oct. 10 and the North Taurids peak on Nov. 12, a broad time frame indicative of a large stream of particles colliding with Earth’s atmosphere, Gelber said. Taurids are fairly random and relatively infrequent in October and November, and are typically seen well after midnight, when the constellation Taurus is quite high in the sky.

Perhaps this year will be one of the more active Taurid meteor showers.

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