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The Herald-Times

What was that fireball seen and heard over Bloomington last night?

By Boris Ladwig, The Herald-Times,


Residents in and around Bloomington heard a loud boom and saw a fireball streaking across the sky over Monroe County about 11:35 p.m. Thursday. Some people posted video of the celestial event on social media.

A post on the Facebook page "Bloomington, IN - What's Going On?" asking about "an explosion" had 119 comments Friday morning.

A woman in Spencer posted, "Heard it and shook my house in Spencer." Another Facebook user wrote, "Heard/felt it on the very north side of Ellettsville."

People also posted videos captured by their home security cameras.

Bloomington resident Heather Thacker posted a video captured by her Wyze security camera. Thacker lives on the southwest side of the city. The camera recorded the western part of the property.

Ellettsville resident Stephanie McClure also posted a video captured by her home security camera, which was facing west toward Spencer.

What was that fireball?

The object likely was a meteor, said Sara Popp, outreach coordinator for the Indiana University Department of Astronomy.

Catherine Pilachowski, professor of astronomy at IU, agreed.

When a fast-moving meteor, a space rock, enters the Earth's atmosphere, friction can cause them to burn, creating a fireball or shooting star, according to NASA.

Pilachowski said the meteor remnants only rarely hit the ground.

"Almost always, they burn up completely," she said.

Hearing a boom is rare during such events, Popp said, but she and Pilachowski said it likely means the object was traveling faster than the speed of sound, creating a sonic boom.

They said the American Meteor Society, which keeps track of fireball sightings, had a lot of reports around Indianapolis Thursday night.

Boris Ladwig can be reached at

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