By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When the skies above Pittsburgh lit up early Wednesday morning, social media was abuzz trying to figure out what it was or what had just happened.
At 6:24 a.m., the skies lit up with what appeared to be a fireball flying through the atmosphere.
KDKA spoke with Jay Reynolds, a Research Astronomer at Cleveland State University, who is now in his sixteenth year there, says that it was a meteor.
Reynolds says that a trajectory of the meteor put together by The American Meteor Society estimates that the path was just west of the Pennsylvania and Ohio border.
This trajectory is based on reported sightings of the meteor in the sky, which now have been reported over 700 times in 15 different states, stretching from parts of South Carolina to Chicago.
Reynolds says that this meteor was notable, simply because of how bright it was.
The fact that it flew across our skies after 6:00 a.m. and the fact that there was some daylight in the sky, yet the meteor still shined so brightly was a big deal, Reynolds said.
The meteor being spotted in 15 different states is a high number, which Reynolds says is because of how high this specific meteor was.
Reynolds says that most meteors glow in the sky around 60 miles high, but at this point, there’s no estimate or approximation of how high this one was.
As far as size goes, it’s estimated that this meteor was the size of something that could fit in your hand, likely made up of magnesium or other metallic materials.
For comparison’s sake, the meteor that exploded across the skies in Russia in 2013 was approximately 60-feet across, roughly the size of a school bus.
Reynolds says there are indications that this meteor ‘fell’ over the area south of Youngstown, but a ‘fall’ likely means that it broke up into several smaller pieces.
Reynolds said it is unlikely that there will be any discovery of the pieces of this meteor, saying that there have only been 13 discoveries of fallen objects in Ohio’s entire history.
He says that this is the case many times, simply because these smaller pieces appear to be normal rocks to the average person.
He also mentioned the fact that Western Pa. and Eastern Oh. are in the ‘Rust Belt,’ meaning that the entire area is very rich in iron, given it’s history with steel mills, coal, trains, etc. and how this can make it difficult for the average person to know the difference.
He went on to say that for experts in his field, there are ways to determine whether they are meteorite material or not.
When asked about the last time a meteor of this size flew across and/or over our area, Reynolds said “It’s been a long time since we’ve seen something like this.”
He was not able to give a specific date or pinpoint a specific instance, but said that it has been several years since a meteor of this size has made its way across our area.