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WATCH: fireball streaks across Montana sky

Video streaks across Montana sky
Posted at 10:34 AM, May 22, 2024

A dazzling sight caught some people by surprise as it streaked across the Montana sky on Monday, May 20, 2024.

KRTV meteorologist Ryan Dennis says it was a fireball - a very bright meteor.

It happened at about 11:45 p.m., and several people caught video of the streaking meteor:

VIDEOS: fireball streaks across Montana sky

Meteoroids enter and burn up in Earth's atmosphere all the time, and these are called meteors.

Sometimes these meteors can be very bright (a fireball) if it is a larger meteoroid that is burning up in Earth's atmosphere.

Fireballs aren't actually all that rare, but many times they occur during the day or over uninhabited areas, so it tends to be pretty rare for people to see them.

From the National Aeronatics & Space Administration (NASA) website:

What’s the difference between a meteoroid, a meteor, and a meteorite?
  • Meteoroids: These rocks still are in space. Meteoroids range in size from dust grains to small asteroids.
  • Meteors: When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere (or that of another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or “shooting stars” are called meteors.
  • Meteorites: When a meteoroid survives a trip through the atmosphere and hits the ground, it’s called a meteorite.