Folks out in West Texas caught quite the surprise this weekend when a streaking meteor erupted into a fireball and caused a thunderous boom, prompting several calls to the police. And in a rare occurrence, a patrol car actual caught the meteor on video.
Officer Tiffany Vanzant filmed the massive fireball while driving towards the Parker County Courthouse in Weatherford, Texas. Citizens as far as Snyder reported a loud explosion, and others in Kansas and Colorado also reported seeing the fireball.
A meteor is technically matter from space that enters the earth's atmosphere. This one traveled so close that it broke the sound barrier, causing a sonic boom.
According to the American Meteor Society, only one percent of meteors cause the loud bangs. Folks first started reporting the meteor around 8:51 p.m. on Sunday night.
AMS Operations Manage Mike Hankey told the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal they received reports of the meteor rattling doors and windows. He also said that, based on the trajectory, the meteor remnants probably landed 50 to 100 miles southeast of Lubbock.
"You could see a flash, like if an electrical transformer flashes at night," Hines says. "But it was cloudy here -- kinda rainy -- so we didn't actually see any kind of fireball or anything," Hines said.
But plenty of others did.
One person on the AMS website in Jayton, Texas reported they were on the porch when it happened. The fireball caused a flash of light so bright they could momentarily see each other like daytime.
When the Weatherford Police Department realized they caught the spectacle on video, they had to release it. "Officer Vanzant had a front-row seat to a truly spectacular sight, and thanks to her in-car camera and a little movie-making magic, we want to share it with everyone," the department says. "It is important to note that there were no space aliens hurt in the making of this video!"