Peninsula: Meteor's unusual flash, boom jars residents from
Brinnon to Neah Bay
Residents from Brinnon to Neah Bay reported flashes of light followed by a large booming noise that rattled windows early Thursday as a computer monitor-sized meteor disintegrated above Earth.
``There were two distinct pulses of light that lit up the room through our skylights,'' said Jean Wasell of Brinnon.
``Then about four minutes later, a loud noise sounded like a sonic boom.''
She said the sound was loud enough to shake the windows.
Wasell and her husband, Walt, ran outside to see what had happened and said everything appeared normal.
``It was clear and there was a full moon, but we saw nothing unusual,'' she said.
It was the most dramatic light and sound show of this kind over Western Washington since about 1928, according to Toby Smith, a University of Washington astronomy lecturer who specializes in meteorites.
Smith said the skyburst was reported over a wide area around 2:40 a.m.
``Everything seems to be consistent with a meteor entering the Earth's atmosphere, accompanied by sonic booms,'' he said.
It was seen by pilots as far east as Idaho.
``There was some question as to whether it was a piece of space junk burning up, but it was not,'' Geoff Chester, a spokesman for the Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C.
``What we're looking at here is something that's about the size of a computer monitor or a large suitcase.''
Chester said it was a type of meteor called a bolide, one which appears brightly like a fireball in the sky.
Neah Bay camera
In Neah Bay, a security camera overlooking the Makah Marina caught two flashes of light followed by a loud noise four minutes and 33 seconds later.
``There was a small flash spotted off boat windows and then a bright light that lit up the sky for a few seconds,'' said Port of Neah Bay Director Bob Buckingham.
``You could see the mountains and the breakwater clearly.''
Buckingham said when he turned the volume up on the camera, a sound resembling a loud gunshot could be heard.
Nothing unusual was detected on National Weather Service radar, and authorities in the Puget Sound area ruled out aircraft problems or military flight tests.
A woman living in the Dungeness area said the sound was loud enough to awaken her husband from a deep sleep.
``It sounded like a sonic boom,'' said Sharon Haas. ``Our parrots started going crazy. We thought it was an earthquake.''
A woman in the Cape George area of Jefferson County said the meteorite illuminated Protection Island, which her house overlooks.
At the 24-hour Safeway Food and Drug on Sims Way in Port Townsend, stock clerk Renee Sullivan was busy telling her co-workers what she saw on her way to work Thursday.
``I'm not getting much work done,'' she said.
``It's all we're talking about.''
Meteorite caused big flash
You can believe the official explanation or not, but authorities are now certain that big “flash and bang” that lit up the night sky last night was caused by a meteorite.
The flash was seen here on the Peninsula and all across the Northwest in the wee hours of the morning. PNN viewers who saw the flash say it lasted several seconds, and although no one really reported hearing a “boom” here, there was a bang reported by many Northwest residents who experienced the startling event.
A spokesman for the Naval Observatory in Washington DC says as far as authorities can figure out, it was simply a “rock falling from the sky”, probably an object about the size of a small TV. No one is buying into the theory that it was a piece of space debris although the unusual event has certainly sparked a lot of speculation by the public. Authorities have ruled out aircraft problems or military flight tests.
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