The sky put on a show for residents of several western states Wednesday night and early Thursday, as meteors that looked like fireballs produced bright flashes.
The National Weather Service told CBS Los Angeles station KCBS-TV a South Taurid meteor shower is under way. South Taurids are known for their dramatic fireballs.
People across Southern California were calling authorities and media outlets saying they’d seen bright flashes and fireballs in the sky.
Sightings were also reported in Utah, Arizona and Nevada.
One was caught on video by a KCBS viewer’s home security cameras in Sylmar.
“At first I thought it might be fireworks,” he said. “It was kind of greenish, and it was large. And then it broke apart.”
He added, “I’ve never seen anything like that before.”
Another KCBS viewer said she was driving west on a freeway when she looked up and saw a large fireball.
“I thought it was a plane,” she said, “but it was too fast.”
Scientists predicted a meteor shower that occurs every year about this time. But also say the best is yet to come.
Taurid meteor showers, which seem to emerge from the direction of the constellation Taurus, will reach their peak this year on Nov. 16 through the early morning of Nov. 17. Observers, aided by a full moon, will see 10 to 20 large fireballs every hour, experts say.
The website PlanetSave.com notes the 10-to-20 figure is actually fewer than we normally get in this time period, but says it still promises to be “a pretty good show.”
Dr. Laura Danly, a curator at the Griffith Observatory, told KCBS the fireballs are easily explained. “They’re rocks bouncing through Earth’s atmosphere and they’re burning up,” she says. “Most of them will never hit the ground. That’s what you’re seeing.”