An unusually bright meteor lit up Bend’s night sky Monday. Videos circulated on social media, with some witnesses asking if anyone else had seen the “fireball.”
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” witness Rendy Tucker said. “After I realized it wasn’t a shooting star, I started to worry that it might be a plane crashing, which was really scary to think of.”
The meteor streaked across the sky, headed southwest at about 9:00 p.m.
Sunriver Observatory Manager Paul Poncy said it wasn’t a plane and it likely wasn’t space debris. It was just an unusually bright meteor.
“Something that gives off that much light probably is the size of a golf ball, maybe a baseball. Not as big as one would think. A typical shooting star you may see that zips across the sky really quick, size of a grain of sand,” Poncy said.
But how does something so small emit so much light?
“What we have to consider is how much energy it takes to burn rock and give off a little plasma field in front of it. So when it’s a big fire ball like that, it might be a little bit bigger. But even a golf ball-sized rock will put off a enough light to cast shadows,” Poncy said.
The actual size of the space rock came as a surprise to some witnesses.
“It looked so huge from our point of view. I don’t understand,” Stella Tucker said.