Jesus said in the Last Days, men’s hearts would fail them for fear at the things coming on the earth. To be sure, strange sites in the skys and reports of this kind are on the rise! This is a phenomena that is not going away!
Burning object likely a meteor, officials say
The Federal Aviation Administration suggested Sunday that it might have been debris from two satellites that collided last week, but Monday the agency announced that it was going with the meteor theory.
Good choice, said Ron DiLulio, director of the astronomy laboratory at the University of North Texas. He said descriptions of the fiery chunk are consistent with what he called a “classic bolide.”
“These are very, very bright meteors that can be seen during the day,” he said.
DiLulio said he didn’t see the event, but that he heard a sonic boom about midday while loading his vehicle at his Benbrook home.
Then, his phone started ringing. People from across the state were calling to get his interpretation of the sightings.
DiLulio is a member of the NASA Solar System Ambassadors Program, which gives him access to information collected by the agency.
He checked the trajectories of the satellites that collided last week over Siberia and concluded that the skies above Texas were not in their paths.
“I was 90 percent sure it was a meteor coming in,” he said, “But people started asking, ‘Where did it fall?’ ”
He said he believes that nothing of any measurable size ever hit the ground.
DiLulio said some meteors enter Earth’s atmosphere so fast that they disintegrate into particles that are like dust or iron shavings.
“Tons of that stuff falls every day on the planet,” he said, “but it’s dust.”
DiLulio said he is not surprised that some people disagree with his findings.
For example, one reader who e-mailed the Star-Telegram Web site challenged that video images of the fireball show a rectangular object, and that meteors are not shaped like that.
DiLulio looked at the images from News 8 Austin and agreed that the thing appeared to be oblong, but not necessarily rectangular. The closer look, he said, reinforced his opinion that it was a bolide.
He said that such meteors enter Earth’s atmosphere a lot more often than people think, but that more probably noticed Sunday’s event because of when it occurred.
Some people said they saw the object from their vehicles and DiLulio speculated that they were probably coming home from church or going to lunch. During the week, they probably would have been focused on work or school, not looking to the skies.
“You couldn’t have picked a better time [for the object] to be sighted,” he said.
A spokesman for the FAA, which issued a warning to pilots about the falling debris, said law-enforcement agencies started contacting the agency about 11 a.m. Sunday
“People started reporting to law enforcement that there was a ‘fireball,’ and some people reported an explosion, which we suspect was probably a sonic boom,” said FAA spokesman Roland Herwig on Sunday during a conference call with reporters.
The object was visible Sunday morning from the Hill Country to the Red River, from Austin to Dallas and into East Texas. In Central Texas, the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department received so many emergency calls that it sent a helicopter aloft to look for debris from a plane crash.
Later on Sunday, the FAA suggested the fireball was probably a piece of debris, possibly from the the U.S.-Russian satellite collision.
The satellites collided over Siberia and sent thousands of pieces of debris into Earth, pieces that experts said could remain aloft for thousands of years.
But also on Sunday, the U.S. Strategic Command said there was no connection between the fireball and the satellites, and the FAA agreed Monday.
Across Texas, callers described a red-and-orange burning object that eventually turned white and appeared to burn out.
In North Texas, the Plano Police Department fielded at least two calls, said officer Andrae Smith, a police spokesman.
Correspondent Andrew Chavez contributed to this report, which also contains material from The Associated Press.
People started reporting . . . a ‘fireball,’ and . . . an explosion, which we suspect was probably a sonic boom.”
I was 90 percent sure it was a meteor coming in, but people started asking, ‘Where did it fall?’ ”
director of astronomy lab at the University of North Texas