15 times brighter than Venus

Fireball lights up sky over Southern states

by JEFF MARTIN, Associated Press

NASA officials say brilliant lights seen at a Mumford & Sons concert in Alabama and loud booms reported in Atlanta's suburbs came from a meteor that streaked across the South.

Officials at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville said a baseball-size fragment of a comet entered Earth's atmosphere above Alabama at 8:18 p.m. Central Time on Monday.

NASA officials say the meteor traveled at a speed of 76,000 mph. They say that just three seconds after hitting the atmosphere, it disintegrated 25 miles above the Alabama town of Woodstock, producing a flash of light. Woodstock is about 30 miles southwest of Woodstock.

"Because it penetrated so deep into Earth's atmosphere, sonic booms were produced, which were heard by eyewitnesses," NASA said in a statement to The Associated Press.

Music fans at a Mumford & Sons concert in Pelham -- about 20 miles south of Birmingham -- Monday night also reported seeing a brilliant flash of light.

The meteor, which scientists described as a fireball because it was so bright, was 15 times brighter than Venus, NASA officials said.

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