The Lyrids lit up the night sky on Saturday-Sunday, and then delivered a parting shot over Nevada and northern California—a fireball that streaked across the sky on Sunday at around 8 a.m., then exploded with a huge boom as it burnt up in the atmosphere.
According to the Reno Gazette Journal in Nevada, the sound “rattled windows and nerves over hundreds of square miles on both sides of the Sierra Sunday morning,” sending people “scrambling to see if an earthquake had hit or a plane had landed atop their roof.”
People saw the bright early-morning fireball streaking from east to west, the newspaper said, from Winnemucca to Bakersfield, California. A few moments later, they heard it. Reports also streamed in from northern California and all the way south to Orange county, according to The Los Angeles Times and numerous other accounts.
Members of the Paiute, the Shoshone, and the Washoe live in and around Reno, right under the meteor’s path, and a host of American Indian tribes and members are located in northern California.
NASA scientist Bill Cooke told Spaceweather.com that it was indeed a meteor from the shower.
“On Sunday morning, April 22nd, just as the Lyrid meteor shower was dying down, a spectacular fireball exploded over California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range,” Spaceweather.com says on its website. “The loud explosion rattled homes from central California to Reno, Nevada, and beyond. According to Bill Cooke, head of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office, the source of the blast was a meteoroid about the size of a minivan.”
Cooke explained to Spaceweather.com: “Elizabeth Silber at Western University has searched for infrasound signals from the explosion,” he told the website. “Infrasound is very low frequency sound which can travel great distances. There were strong signals at two stations, enabling a triangulation of the energy source.”
The Lyrids made for quite a show. Although much of northeastern Turtle Island was blanketed by rain and thick clouds, elsewhere in the Northern Hemisphere could be seen meteor upon meteor in Sunday’s pre-dawn hours. Canadian Bill Allen grabbed this shot against the backdrop of the Milky Way and sent it to Space.com. Below are several shots culled from around the Web.