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You weren’t seeing things. There was a fireball over Charlotte, and it had a tail

Screen shot of American Meteor Society report on Wednesday night fireball
Screen shot of American Meteor Society report on Wednesday night fireball

So what was the mysterious “large fireball” that appeared over the Carolinas around 8:45 p.m. Wednesday?

As much as we’d all like to believe it was an other worldly probe, the American Meteor Society is suggesting it was just a meteor in the “fireball” category. That’s a term for a very bright meteor of the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky.

This one had a tail, too, and some people said it was “giving off sparks.”

The society received 190 reports (so far) about of a fireball event, seen primarily across South Carolina. Many of those reports came from the Charlotte area, including Matthews, Concord, Gastonia, Rock Hill and York.

An estimated trajectory was plotted from the witness reports, and it shows the meteor was traveling from the northeast to southwest, and ended its visible flight near Longs, in Horry County, South Carolina.

Several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day, the society says: “The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight. Those that occur at night also stand little chance of being detected due to the relatively low numbers of persons out to notice them.”

WBTV's Chief Meteorologist Eric Thomas said the typical meteor is about the size of a grain of sand. He said that while we can't be certain, the one spotted Wednesday was likely a bit bigger. He said the object likely never made it to the ground before burning up.

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