Fireball Lights Up the Sky Over Salt Lake City – 16 Times Brighter Than the Full Moon

GOES 17 Fireball Over Northern Utah

GOES 17 Geostationary Lightning Mapper detection of the August 13, 2022, fireball over northern Utah. Credit: NOAA

On Saturday morning, a brilliant meteor flew through the skies over northern Utah, later raining down meteorites over the Great Salt Lake.

Residents of the Salt Lake City, Utah area were startled by loud booms at 8:30 a.m. MDT on Saturday, August 13, 2022. Eyewitnesses saw a spectacular fireball in the sky, 16 times brighter than the full Moon.

Approximately 22,000 miles out in space, NOAA’s Geostationary Lightning Mappers (GLM) onboard the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) 17 and 18 detected the meteor. It was first seen 50 miles over West Valley City, however, it is difficult to pinpoint its exact trajectory.

Meteor Seen 50 Miles Over West Valley City, Utah

The meteor was first seen 50 miles over West Valley City, Utah, moving to the northwest at 39,000 miles per hour. The object broke apart above the eastern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Credit: NASA

“Daytime fireballs are very tough to analyze,” said Bill Cooke, lead of NASA’s Meteoroid Environments Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. “There are few eyewitness sightings of the fireball and videos posted on social media are difficult to calibrate without stars in the background.”

After traveling northwest at 39,000 miles per hour, the object broke apart above the eastern shore of the lake. The object was likely a piece of an asteroid, measuring about 2 feet across. “One meteorite has been recovered from the lake shore,” said Cooke. “There are probably more, but I would expect the vast majority fell into the water.”

NASA studies meteoroid environments in space to protect astronauts and satellites in space. NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office prepares meteoroid forecasts for missions like Artemis I, the first integrated test of NASA’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, Space Launch System rocket, and the ground systems at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The Artemis I launch is currently targeted for August 29.

5 Comments on "Fireball Lights Up the Sky Over Salt Lake City – 16 Times Brighter Than the Full Moon"

  1. Sharon Wilander | August 21, 2022 at 10:52 am | Reply

    This has really nothing to do with thus page, I don’t know who to talk about what I saw along with my Sons at 430 am the end of May. As we looked up in the sky it looked lik a ribbon of stars flowing and flowing for awhile and then it was gone. Of course I did have a camera. We havent heard anything about that morning. I wonder if we are the Only
    ones that saw it that morning. Would really like to know what it was?

  2. We’er they traveling from west to east? If so they were the Star link satellites. I saw them once at the same time in northern Idaho. Pretty cool imo.

  3. I believe that was what is called a star link constilation.

  4. Astronomer guy | August 21, 2022 at 3:52 pm | Reply

    Sharon, you saw a “train” of starlink satellites shortly after launch. SpaceX launches many of them on the same rocket. They start off looking like a ribbon of stars and slowly spread apart in the weeks afterwards.

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