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WHAT WAS THAT?! Bright light streaks across sky

Posted at 4:28 AM, Jun 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-03 01:57:01-04

DID YOU SEE THAT?!?!

A huge streak of light brightened the sky early Thursday morning, prompting worry and curiosity from many Arizona residents.

The first reports came in right around 4 a.m. from around the Valley and even in areas like Yuma, Flagstaff and Pine Top. Several callers also reported feeling the ground shake and a trail was left in the sky after the sun came up.

The streak of the meteor seemed like it was going to land in our Tucson backyards. 

"Whenever an object is really close to the horizon, you always think that it's just above the hill," explained Vishnu Reddy with the Planetary Science Institute here in Tucson. "That kind of gives you an illusion...  a lot of people thought it just fell north of the Catalinas... but then in reality, it is about four hours north of here."

That is about 60 miles above the Tonto National Forest, east of Payson. However, meteorites may be scattered on the ground north of Tucson. 

"This object was about 100 metric tons originally before it entered the atmosphere," Reddy explained.

Many people were able to capture it on camera - an event that Reddy describes as rare and significant. 

"The energy generated was about 10 kilotons, Reddy said. "To give you a comparison - the Hiroshima nuclear explosion was about 13 to 15 kilotons, so it is very comparable to that."
 
Reddy estimates that only a few kilograms of it actually made it to the ground. 
 
"A majority of the energy was lost disintegrating the object and creating this dust and so what fell would be in the hundred-gram to few-grams range," Reddy said. 
 
But, he said a team is searching the challenging forest environment, donating some of what they find to science. 

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