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There Was A Crazy Fireball Over Los Angeles

Eyewitnesses are notoriously unreliable (Photo by Scrubhiker (USCdyer) via the Creative Commons on Flickr)
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Californians from Fresno to San Diego reported seeing a crazy-looking fireball streak across the sky this evening around 8 p.m.

There were a lot of fake photos being passed around (eds. note: and unfortunately one video we removed from this post was not from last night), but CBS Los Angeles found some security footage that captured the fireball:

So what's going on here? It's likely a part of a meteor shower going on that has a reputation for putting on quite a show around Halloween every year. Every year in late October and early November, the earth passes through the dust of a comet named Comet Encke. One astronomy website described the shower this way: "Although a modest shower, the Taurids can surprise you with a flamboyant fireball or two!" A meteorologist with the National Weather Service told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune that's likely what us Southern Californians saw tonight.

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It doesn't take much dust to put on a show. NASA describes it this way: "Tiny grains hit our atmosphere at 65,000 mph. At that speed, even a tiny smidgen of dust makes a vivid streak of light--a meteor--when it disintegrates. Because these meteors shoot out of the constellation Taurus, they're called Taurids."

I happened to catch a glimpse of whatever it was that streaked through the sky this evening while in Pasadena. It happened in the Northwest sky. Like a lot of people who reported seeing it, I thought I was catching the tail end of an oddly-timed fireworks display. Maybe something at the Rose Bowl or some sort of illegal fireworks? But the light was vivid enough that it didn't make sense that I couldn't make out any sort of noise above the din of the nearby Del Mar Station. The light was heading northward as it plunged. It looked more like a ball than a streak, which is just one of many reasons this photo did not pass the sniff test.

If you captured photos or video of the fireball, send it our way.