Crossroads residents see fireball in the sky

Jessica Priest By Jessica Priest

Dec. 8, 2012 at 6:08 a.m.

It only lasted for a few seconds, but Crossroads residents were treated to a light show of sorts during their morning commute Friday.

And, no, it wasn't aliens or satellite debris hurling to Earth from space.

Lara Eakins, astronomy outreach coordinator at the University of Texas at Austin, said the bright fireball was likely a part of the Geminid meteor shower, which happens every December as the Earth collides with rocks left behind from an asteroid during its orbit around the sun.

"The peak is usually around the Dec. 13 or Dec. 14," Eakins said of the Geminid meteor shower, which - unlike other, regularly occurring showers - can be seen in the sky as soon as it gets dark.

Jeremiah Arevalo, 34, was washing his car at his shop on Zac Lentz Parkway about 6:30 a.m. when he saw what he described as an "explosion" through the thick fog.

"There was nobody to tell," he said of how he was the first to arrive at work and didn't have enough time to fish out his cellphone to snap pictures of the seconds-long flare. "I thought maybe my mind was playing tricks on me."

But he soon learned via Facebook that he wasn't the only one who saw the mysterious light stretch across the Lone Star State.

Juanita Garza was traveling down Navarro Street about 6:45 a.m. when she saw it through her windshield.

"It was bright and shiny, somewhat like a falling star, but really, really close and going really, really fast," she said.

Garza said she never expected something like that to happen on a day that started like any other with her stopping at Chick-fil-A for breakfast.

There were 50 reports of a fireball seen over Texas - mostly in the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston areas - as of about noon Friday on the American Meteor Society's website, where space enthusiasts can discuss observing the phenomenon.

Eakins said the chances of a meteor hitting and injuring someone are pretty rare. The one-to-two-pound rocks are hard to find on Earth but can be pretty valuable for collectors. When they make it to the ground, they're called meteorites.

"There was that one incident about 20 years ago where one hit a car in a garage," Eakins said.

Delilah Archer, 28, also caught a glimpse of the fireball on her way to work at O'Reilly Auto Parts in Port Lavaca.

She was passing the Placedo Bridge, and, at first, she thought a nearby plant exploded.

She then surmised it was a meteor. She believes in the Mayan apocalypse, which is set to occur Dec. 21 but shrugged away the idea as soon as it occurred to her.

"At first, I was like, 'Oh, my goodness! It's happening!' But I don't want to say that that is what it is ... probably because I'm not ready to accept something like that right now."



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