GEOMAGNETIC STORM WATCH (G1): Minor G1-class geomagnetic storms are possible on Aug. 4th-5th when one or more CMEs are expected to hit Earth. The CMEs were hurled in our direction by a combination of events–namely, the eruption of a magnetic filament on July 31st plus multiple M-class eruptions from active sunspot AR3380 on Aug. 1st and 2nd. Aurora alerts: SMS Text

BRIGHT FIREBALL RATTLES THE EASTERN USA: This morning just after 2 a.m. EDT, sonic booms rolled across the eastern USA, shaking buildings hard enough to wake observers. Sky watchers looked up and saw a brilliant fireball tearing itself apart overhead. Amateur astronomer Bill Stewart of Ceredo, West Virginia, was outside on his rooftop observatory and accidentally videoed his own reaction to the booming flash:

“It was at 2:13 a.m.,” says Stewart. “The fireball made two audible booms. After one bright flash it broke into 3 distinct fragments. One remained bright as it descended below the horizon. It could have possibly touched down although I didn’t hear it impact.”

The American Meteor Society has collected more than 65 eyewitness reports from 9 US states. The fireball first appeared over Ohio, streaked south, then petered out over Georgia. Observers said “it flashed like lightning,” “it shook my house,” and “I’ve never seen anything like it.”

There are currently three active meteor showers capable of producing bright fireballs: The Perseids, Alpha Capricornids, and Southern Delta Aquariids. However, the fireball’s path through the sky doesn’t seem to fit any of those showers. This suggests that it was a sporadic (random) meteor.

Random meteoroids hit Earth all the time as our planet plows through old clouds of comet dust and asteroid debris that litters interplanetary space. On any dark night you can see a handful of bright sporadics. This fireball, however, may have been exceptional. Its peak brightness significantly exceeded that of the full supermoon (also present in Stewart’s video). According to NASA statistics, such a fireball disintegrates in Earth’s atmosphere only once every year or so.

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