HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - It's what everyone is talking about - the flash of light and loud boom heard from all the way up the Eastern Shore in Maryland to Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
WAVY.com first started getting bombarded with calls and emails around 9:45 p.m. Sunday. Most were from concerned viewers asking, "What was that?"
WAVY.com looked into the incident speaking with NASA, whose officials told us they aren't sure what it was that everyone saw in the sky.
Kent Blackwell, an amateur astronomer who was star gazing last night in Pungo, witnessed what he says was a meteor passing overhead. He said this particular kind of meteor, called a fireball, is rare and he's not surprised other Hampton Roads residents felt vibrations and heard a loud boom. After all, Blackwell said, it may have broken the sound barrier traveling at 100-thousand miles per hour.
"All of a sudden the ground just lit up a brilliant green color and I immediately looked skyward toward the north and saw this brilliant green flash going across the sky, lasted about 5-8 seconds, and it turned from green to brilliant orange with a white core and then faded away," Blackwell said.
The National Weather Service says there is no evidence of any naturally occurring phenomenon to explain bright lights in the eastern sky that prompted hundreds of calls to the service and emergency officials.
Callers from Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina described brilliant, streaking lights followed by an explosion-like sound around 9:45 p.m. Sunday.
A spokesman for the weather service's Wakefield office said the lights are "nothing meteorological that we can see."
Callers reported seeing "great balls of fire" lighting up the sky in shades of yellow, white orange and blue. Some described the explosion as sounding like thunder.
The weather service said no damage was reported.
Other experts, however, have different theories. Geoff Chester, spokesperson for the Naval Observatory, told WTOP News the flashing lights and booming sounds that astounded people up and down the East Coast Sunday night likely came from "just a piece of orbiting space junk."
Chester says he's 99.44 percent sure that's the source of the yellow and orange flashes seen around 9:45 p.m.
Chester says the timing makes sense since Soyuz docked at the International Space Stations Saturday.
"Typically, the rocket boosters, the final stages that they use for these, will be placed in an orbit such that they will decay and burn up in the earth's atmosphere, so they don't litter up the space near the Space Station with excess space junk."
WAVY.com and WAVY News 10 is following the story throughout the day and we'll have a full report beginning at 5 p.m.
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