NASA, along with satellite data, have confirmed that the explosion heard in Pittsburgh over the weekend was from a meteor. A meteorologist from the National Weather Service said that on Saturday around 11:30 a.m., a meteor “fell through” the atmosphere. It exploded with the energy of almost 30 tons of TNT. Not only did Pittsburgh residents hear a very loud boom, but they also felt the ground shake. Some people even compared it to the sound of a house exploding. It was unexpected, to say the least.
When meteors explode in the atmosphere they’re called bolides. They’re also extremely bright. So bright, that if it wasn’t cloudy over Pittsburgh that day, the meteor would’ve been easily visible. NASA says that it would’ve been roughly 100 times brighter than a full moon. Even though the normal human eye couldn’t see the fireball exploding relatively above their heads, satellites caught it. Data from the satellites show a flash that is consistent with that of an exploding meteor.
“A nearby infrasound station registered the blast wave from the meteor as it broke apart; the data enabled an estimate of the energy at 30 tons of TNT,” NASA reported on Facebook. The space authority estimates that the meteor was traveling at around 45,000 miles per hour. Based on that, they can also guess how big it was. Scientists think that it was around half a yard in diameter and weighed up to half a ton. The 911 operators for Allegheny County, P.A. received many calls about the startlingly loud noise. At least they really brought in the new year with a bang.
This isn’t the first time a meteor has exploded in our atmosphere (and scared everyone in the process). In September of 2021, a similar event happened in Hardy County, West Virginia.
Multiple States Curious About Meteors Entering Atmosphere
Unfortunately, or maybe, fortunately, for the residents of Pittsburgh, it was too cloudy for them to see the astonishing meteor explode in the sky. However, multiple states in 2021 had the pleasure of watching meteors enter our atmosphere. In September, the American Meteor Society got over 150 reports of people seeing a fireball fly across the sky. The reports came from multiple states, including North Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland. The fireball in question was only going 30,000 miles an hour, which seems pretty slow compared to the bolide Pittsburgh experienced over the weekend.
It can be scary when things like this are seen, especially with no explanation. Thankfully, meteors usually pose no threat to us when they enter our atmosphere. They completely burn up or fall apart before they even reach Earth. Still though, if you don’t already know what’s happening, you might think aliens are finally visiting.