SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — On the heels of a close fly-by of an asteroid 17,000 miles from Earth on Friday morning and a devastating meteor that landed in Russia, Bay Area stargazers caught a glimpse of another meteor Friday night.
Social media users reported seeing the blue flash of the meteor flying west around 8 p.m. Friday night, and sightings were reported throughout the Bay Area, from Santa Clara to Fairfield, and even in the Central Valley cities of Fresno and Stockton.
Jonathan Braidman, an astronomer with the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, said that it appears that the three astronomical events seen Friday are unrelated.
Friday’s destructive meteor fall in Russia—reported to have injured 1,000 people, the asteroid flying closer to Earth than the orbit of the moon, and the meteor spotted in the Bay Area seem to be moving in different trajectories from the evidence he’s seen, indicating they are from different points of origin, Braidman said.
Based on reports, he said that it seems Friday night’s fireball was 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 Earth’s atmosphere, which is what apparently caused Friday night’s bright flash of light, Braidman 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.