As of 11:57 PM EST, WGAL TV in Lancaster, PA, was reporting that a damaged area had been found in a cornfield that appeared to be related to an object that crossed northeastern US skies at approximately 6:20PM EST today.
The damaged area is in a cornfield along Route 973, west of Anthony Township. The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has not found any environmental problems. No debris was located, and officials theorized that a fireball had touched the surface without leaving anything behind. Further tests are scheduled today.
The object that crossed the skies was easily visible even in the light of a summer evening, and the sonic booms were tremendous.
A number of reporters observed the phenomenon.
A Reuters reporter saw a tapered object shaped like the bell of a trumpet dropping through the sky near West Chester, PA, at approximately 6:20 PM EST. The reporter saw colors from yellow on the flared end, which faced the ground, to green in the tapering midsection to rust-red at the upward-facing point.
Other witnesses reported observing a triangular-shaped object, and the National Weather Service said that no natural phenomenon could account for what was being described.
Sonic booms were heard throughout the northeast, from Philadelphia into Virginia. In some cases, windows were broken by the intensity of the sound.
CNN Military Affairs Correspondent Jamie McIntyre saw the object from his Pentagon office. He observed it getting brighter as it dropped, then evaporating in a flash.
CNN Washington Bureau Chief Frank Sesno observed the object and reported hearing what he described as a “tremendous” sonic boom.
US Space Command at Peterson AFB in Colorado told McIntyre that no satellites or space junk had re-entered the atmosphere.
Alexander Wolszczan, a Penn State University astronomer said that a large meteor could create a sonic boom. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Ca, meteor expert Ron Baalke told CNN that whatever was responsible for the sightings was probably small. “We would have tracked a big one and known it was coming,” he said.
Even though sonic booms were heard up to a hundred miles from the meteor’s path and other astronomers stated that a meteor would have had to be large to create such sounds, Baalke said that the object must have been much smaller than 10 meters (32 feet) in diameter in order not to be tracked.
When sightings were reported through Delaware, Maryland, Washington and Virginia, the possibility that the object was something that had fallen from a plane was discounted.
National Weather Service spokesman Curtis Carey told Reuters, “we have no idea what it was, whether it was a meteor or what.”
There are no major meteor showers occuring in the skies of the northern hemisphere at present.
Whatever the object was, hopefully reporters will be allowed into the field where the damage appears to have occurred, and will be allowed to place samples into independent analysis.
For the WGAL story, click here.
For the CNN story, click here.
For the Reuters/New York Times story, click here.
For a listing of July’s meteor showers, click here.
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