HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It's what everyone is talking about - the flash of light andloud boom heard from all the way up the Eastern Shore in Marylandto Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
WAVY.com first started getting bombarded with calls and emailsaround 9:45 p.m. Sunday. Most were from concerned viewers asking,"What was that?"
Ralph Snell's security camera was rolling at 9:40 p.m. andcaptured a very bright light zoom through the dark night sky inVirginia Beach. Click HEREto watch his video.
WAVY.com spoke with several experts, including officials atNASA. No one seems to know for sure what it was that everyone sawin the sky.
Stefan Boccino, with the Joint Space Operations Center inCalifornia told WAVY.com, "The JSpOC tracks over 19,000 manmadeobjects in space. The "bright light" that was reported on the EastCoast on Sunday, 29 March at 9:45 p.m. EST was not a result of anytrackable manmade object on reentry. Natural phenomena are nottracked by JSpOC professionals."
Kent Blackwell, an amateur astronomer who was star gazing lastnight in Pungo, witnessed what he says was a meteor passingoverhead. He said this particular kind of meteor, called afireball, is rare and he's not surprised other Hampton Roadsresidents felt vibrations and heard a loud boom. After all,Blackwell said, it may have broken the sound barrier traveling at100-thousand miles per hour.
"All of a sudden the ground just lit up a brilliant green colorand I immediately looked skyward toward the north and saw thisbrilliant green flash going across the sky, lasted about 5-8seconds, and it turned from green to brilliant orange with a whitecore and then faded away," Blackwell said.
The National Weather Service says there is no evidence of anynaturally occurring phenomenon to explain bright lights in theeastern sky that prompted hundreds of calls to the service andemergency officials.
Callers from Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina describedbrilliant, streaking lights followed by an explosion-like soundaround 9:45 p.m. Sunday.
A spokesman for the weather service's Wakefield office said thelights are "nothing meteorological that we can see."
Callers reported seeing "great balls of fire" lighting up thesky in shades of yellow, white orange and blue. Some described theexplosion as sounding like thunder.
The weather service said no damage was reported.
Other experts, however, have different theories. Geoff Chester,spokesperson for the Naval Observatory, told WTOP News the flashinglights and booming sounds that astounded people up and down theEast Coast Sunday night likely came from "just a piece of orbitingspace junk."
Chester says he's 99.44 percent sure that's the source of theyellow and orange flashes seen around 9:45 p.m.
Chester says the timing makes sense since Soyuz docked at theInternational Space Stations Saturday.
"Typically, the rocket boosters, the final stages that they usefor these, will be placed in an orbit such that they will decay andburn up in the earth's atmosphere, so they don't litter up thespace near the Space Station with excess space junk."
WAVY.com and WAVY News 10 is following the story throughout theday and we'll have a full report beginning at 5 p.m.
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