The National Weather Service says that the most likely explanation for an object which sent out illumination and a sonic boom throughout southwest Michigan, five other US states, and Canada on Tuesday night local time was the breakup of a meteor, WXYZ reported. The American Meteor Society collected at least 200 reports of the incident, which for around a second was so bright it lit parts of the Detroit region like it was daytime.
Image Courtesy Dan McGhee
Gizmodo reader Dan McGhee sent in the above footage of the meteor, saying a motion-triggered camera installed on his house in Ypsilanti, Michigan, roughly 48km west of Detroit, caught the object at about 8:08PM ET.
After reviewing several observational datasets, the NWS can confirm the flash and boom was NOT thunder or lightning, but instead a likely meteor. We continue to monitor feeds from astronomical agencies for official confirmation of a meteor. #miwx
— NWS Detroit (@NWSDetroit) January 17, 2018
— WWMT-TV (@wwmtnews) January 17, 2018
"I was actually on the phone at the time and saw the bright flash (it was very bright) out of my windows," McGhee told Gizmodo, adding that he initially thought the noise could have been thundersnow, which isn't uncommon in the region.
Per CBS, numerous other social media users captured shots of the moment the suspected meteor broke up in the skies over Michigan. Ingham County Emergency Management Update informed residents that they had not received any "indication that anything landed on the ground or caused damage".
— PirateHooker (@BlackBeerded) January 17, 2018
Freaky bright flash in the sky...must be a meteor. To cold for lightning...both cameras picked it up. pic.twitter.com/4SpnL9s8la
— ;) (@MelTXD) January 17, 2018
Cranbook Institute of Science astronomy chief Michael Narlock told CBS he suspected the object was a bolide meteor - a type of very bright fireball that sometimes ends with visible fragmentation of its components. Tens of thousands of meteors larger than 10g of material fall to Earth each year, though the vast majority fall over rural or oceanic regions well away from direct human observation.