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Satellite, Meteor or Earthquake Lights?

Quite a bit of interest and confusion about fireballs seen in the sky over Kentucky and Texas last weekend. Here’s some video of the Texas fireball:

The confusion seems to have resulted from the National Weather Service quoting the FAA as saying the Kentucky fireball sighting, and associated phenomena including ‘earthquakes’, explosions and “flashes of light across the sky”, were “being caused by falling satellite debris” from last week’s collision between two satellites.

Phil Plait has expressed his doubts about that being the case, and the American Strategic Command has now publicly stated that there is no connection between the events. One thing I did wonder though – especially in regards to the Kentucky sightings – is whether it could be earthquake lights? I haven’t found any seismic data or announcements from the weekend, but the the phenomena sound very similar to those during earthquake light occurrences – especially the “flashes of light across the sky”. Really depends though whether that is referring to a ‘sheet lightning’ effect separate to the fireball sighting, with no apparent cause, or just the sky lighting up because of a bolide.

The Texas fireball would seem to suit a meteor more than anything, at least based on the speed (earthquake lights are generally slow moving, and don’t ‘flame on’ like in the video).

Previously on TDG:

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