CHICAGO (CBS) – A scientific organization that observes and documents meteor sightings in the U-S has received more than 650 reports from at least nine states, including Illinois, about the “fireball” that streaked across the sky early Thursday morning.
And a suburban man snapped one of the few photographs of the object.
“I saw a bright blip with a tale moving pretty slowly but it was very visible,” said Kevin Keadle of Palatine.
He saw the fireball from his balcony looking east at about 6:20am. “In my photo it was a little off in the distance but it was much clearer in person. There was a plane crossing also, so that gave me some depth there. For a second, I thought it might hit the plane it was too far away.”
Keadle sent WBBM Newsradio the photo via Twitter and says he has been quite popular talking to other news organizations about the fireball. His photo has appeared on many websites around the world.
“I talked to a gentlemen from The Weather Channel and he had a little write-up on weather.com, so it’s been an exciting day.”
Keadle says he just happened to be in the right place at the right time. “I always have my iPhone on me and so I am always ready to take a picture.”
The American Meteor Society received 657 reports about the fireball as of 4am Friday. 97 of those reports came from Illinois.
In addition to Keadle, people reported sightings from Chicago, Tinley Park, Schaumburg, Lisle, Winfield, Lemont, Lockport, Naperville, Highland Park Joliet, Des Plaines, Oakbrook Terrace and Niles.
AMS received sightings from Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky, Ontario, Ohio, Missouri, Tennessee, Louisiana and Wisconsin. The first reports began coming in at about 6:05 am CDT. Many people reported seeing a bright flash moving from west to east across the Midwest.
AMS is a non-profit scientific organization whose mission is to observe, monitor, collect data on, study, and report on meteors, meteor showers, fireballs, and related meteoric phenomena.
The group says Thursday’s fireball is the 13th “significant” meteor event in the United States this month, making September the most active month of tracking since AMS began its work in 2005.
A significant event is one that is reported by more than 25 people.
Scientists say it is difficult to know just how big the meteor was. Objects as small as a grain of sand can put off light as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere. A brighter light would suggest a meteor the size of a grapefruit or orange.
Experts say this meteor likely broke up over eastern Indiana.
On the web: www.amsmeteors.org
Follow Steve Grzanich on Twitter @SteveGrzanich