If you were in St. Louis, Missouri last night, chances are you saw a huge flash in the sky at around 9 pm local time. Indeed, that bright light was a meteor lighting up the Monday night sky, as was reported by KMOV.
Residents posted videos of the meteor falling out of the sky via Twitter. A mixture of both Earth Cam and home videos were shared, putting the striking phenomenon on display.
The Northern Taurid meteor shower
This meteor was part of the Northern Taurid meteor shower, which boasts brighter meteors than usual. These are called fireballs, thanks to their extra bright flashes.
The meteor shower was expected to go over St. Louis late on Monday night and into the early hours of Tuesday morning.
These fireball sightings were particularly special, as the Taurids are known for being tricky to observe — especially in a light-polluted area such as St. Louis.
"The Taurids are rich in fireballs, so if you see a Taurid, it can be very brilliant, and it’ll knock your eyes out, but their rates absolutely suck," NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke explained to Space.com.
We seent it! We ain’t crazy! pic.twitter.com/FrkIrfmokX— 2nd Shift Brewing (@2ndshiftbrewing) November 12, 2019
"It’s simply the fact that when a Taurid appears, it’s usually big and bright."
What happened to the fireball?
The National Weather Service in St. Louis is unsure whether the meteor hit Earth, or simply dissolved in the atmosphere.
Great video of a meteor this evening! Video courtesy of Tom Stolze! Awesome catch Tom! 🌠 https://t.co/tK5wO8zB0z— NWS St. Louis (@NWSStLouis) November 12, 2019
Between 90% to 95% of meteors end up burning up in the atmosphere. Even if the meteor did land on Earth, the chances of someone seeing that are quite slim. The majority of impacts are unwitnessed as there is a lot of surface area on Earth relative to humans occupying that space.
If you didn't catch this meteor, you still have a couple of chances left. The next meteor shower, the Leonids, is due on November 16, followed by the Geminids in mid-December.