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Fireball Remains a Mystery
That's just a sunset, but pretend it's a fireball, okay? | Photo by Travis Hornung via Flickr
There is still no explanation of the fireball that soared through Southern California skies yesterday morning at about 10:40 a.m. "I was in downtown Los Angeles on the 31st floor of my office and just happened to look out the window to see a bright white streak disappear behind the the San Gabriel Mountains. It was over in an instant. It was huge, at least as wide as the moon, but it had a tail," wrote Brian Bartholomew in an LA Times comments section.
Most reports of witnessing the fireball came from within Riverside and San Bernardino counties. Even "fire crews in Barstow and on I-15 near Stateline reported seeing an object in the sky moving very fast across the northern sky and described it as yellowish green in color with streaks of debris. It looked like it burned up before it hit the ground," according to an LA Times report.
Some thought it may have been an aircraft, but the FAA claims they have no missing planes on record. Rimoftheworld.net archived the radio calls between some agencies and reports that "some experts believe it was space junk burning up as it entered the Earth's atmosphere."
"The eyewitness account suggests it was a small asteroid hitting the atmosphere," Lance Benner of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab said to the Times. 25 or so meteorites are said to fall onto California annually.
The American Meteor Society tracks witness sightings of fireballs, the majority of which are reported to be seen at night. According to their table database, there were various Los Angeles area reports of them near midnight on June 14. On June 17, a slew of more sightings were documented. Various commenters on LAist explained witnessing a fireball within the past few weeks, but saw no news reports on it.
Some might suggest a conspiracy theory, aliens (didn't they come through lightening bolts in Spielberg's 'War of the Worlds'?) or even a Sam Zell "inventive" marketing ploy for the movie, Hancock.