Meteorite fireballs streak across skies over Cuba and San Francisco
HAVANA — An object fell from the sky over central Cuba on Thursday night and turned into a fireball “bigger than the sun” before it exploded, a Cuban TV channel reported Friday, citing eyewitnesses. Some residents in the central province of Cienfuegos were quoted as saying that at around 8 p.m. local time Thursday (0100 GMT Friday) they saw a bright spot in the sky comparable to a bus in size. The object then turned into a fireball “bigger than the sun,” said the witnesses, adding that several minutes later they heard a loud explosion. One resident told the TV station that his house shook slightly in the blast. Cuban experts have been dispatched to the area to look for possible remains of the meteor-like object, said the report. It remains unknown whether the reported phenomenon in Cuba is related to Friday’s meteor strike in central Russia, which set off a shockwave that shattered windows and left some 1,000 people injured.
Fireball seen in Bay Area skies: It may not have been as spectacular as the space rock that streaked across the skies above Russia late Thursday, but the Bay Area’s close encounter with a meteor Friday night was drawing its own attention on social networks. Comments on Twitter indicated the object that flashed across the horizon around 7:45 p.m. was blue in color and visible throughout the Bay Area and large areas of the West Coast, with at least one reported sighting in Washington State. Amateur video footage broadcast on KTVU-2 showed a bright streak lasting approximately five seconds that appeared to head downward. Some viewers described it as a firework in the night sky. One commenter on Twitter, who said they saw the meteor while driving in a car in Cupertino, said the object appeared to be headed west. Scanner traffic at the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Office indicated that they were aware of the event, but a dispatcher said they had not received any emergency calls related to it. Gerald McKeegan, an astronomer with the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, was at the center Friday evening for its weekend stargazing sessions with free access to the center’s large telescopes, but he said they did not spot the meteor there. He said that the center received phone calls from people who reported seeing the meteor. Based on their reports, McKeegan said it may have been what astronomers call a “sporadic meteor,” an event that can happen several times a day but most of the time happens over the ocean, away from human eyes, and brings as much as 15,000 tons of space debris to Earth each year. Meteors, hunks of rock and metal from space that fall to Earth, burn up as they go through the atmosphere, which is what apparently caused Friday night’s bright flash of light, McKeegan said. It was likely smaller than another meteor that landed in the Bay Area in October, which caused a loud sonic boom as it fell, breaking apart and spreading rocks, called meteorites, in the North Bay, McKeegan said. EP