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'Rare' meteor credited for bright light, rattling noise over Michigan

There were hundreds of reports of a fireball in the sky Tuesday night. The U.S. Geological Survey added it registered as a 2.0 magnitude earthquake in Michigan.
/ Source: Associated Press

DETROIT — Experts say a bright light and what sounded like thunder in the sky above Michigan was a meteor.

The American Meteor Society says it received hundreds of reports of a fireball Tuesday night over the state, including many in the Detroit area. Reports also came in from several other states and Ontario, Canada.

Some Michigan residents reported their homes shaking.

"All of the sudden, the whole yard started getting brighter, kind of yellowish-orange, like a flashbulb, then got black," Milford resident Mike Tarkowski told The Detroit News. "It was something big and it was something up in the air."

The American Meteor Society says the reports suggest a space rock penetrated deep into the Earth's atmosphere before it broke apart. The U.S. Geological Survey added that it registered as a 2.0 magnitude earthquake in Michigan.

Bill Cooke with NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office told The Detroit News it was "definitely a meteoroid" and a rare sight for Michigan.

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He estimated the meteoroid appeared to have been about one or two yards across, weighed more than a metric ton and traveled 40,000 to 50,000 miles to Earth.

"Over Michigan, they're rare," he said. But elsewhere on the planet, "they happen a few times every month."

Other states where people reported seeing a fireball included Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Missouri.

Paul Gross, a meteorologist with NBC affiliate WDIV, said the bright light and loud noise might have been caused by a bolide — a type of meteor that breaks up in the atmosphere.

"Another question being asked is if any parts of the meteor hit Earth," Gross tweeted. "Very unlikely...probably burned up entirely. Most meteors are the size of a Grape Nuts cereal nugget, this one MIGHT have been a foot or two across."