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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Breathtaking’: A mysterious fireball dazzled Pacific Northwest onlookers Monday night

When you see it, you’re not too sure you actually did.

Is there a meteor shower tonight? Could a satellite have fallen from orbit? Could those navy pilots be onto something?

These were perhaps some of the thoughts of the roughly 50 observers in the Inland Northwest who reported their sighting of a fireball in the sky Monday night to the American Meteor Society.

At approximately 10:45, Spokane’s western horizon lit up a brilliant white light. As the sky dulled, a soaring green light came into focus.

Heading north, the radiant orb contained a touch of amber as it left an illuminated trail behind. Lingering, the streak was evidence of the immense distance it traversed across the Spokane skyline in a matter of seconds.

Commenters on a local Reddit forum described the flying projectile as having a “big green streak” that seemed to have “trailing sparks.”

An American Meteor Society database compiles such reports of fireball observations. The astronomy nonprofit simply describes a fireball as a visible meteor that is unusually bright.

Recounters on the database detail their experience. Almost all of the submissions from around the world on Monday come from Idaho, Montana and Washington.

Respondents are asked to detail their experience including the precise location, duration, direction, color and other descriptors.

One person said they saw a flash in Lakeside, Montana, that appeared to travel north over Flathead Lake.

“Many local community members saw it,” the person identified as Janie wrote. “… Greenish ball of fire with sparks coming off.”

Another from Great Falls noticed the sky brighten with a blue hue through his window.

“Lightning came to mind,” the person, Clifford, wrote. “Excitedly, I stared out my window before a ball of blue light came into view out of the sky with a trail of the same blue light, it was beautiful. And as quickly as it appeared, it fizzled out.”

Spokane residents also submitted reports.

One, identified only as J.C., said the flash contained colors of blue, green, orange and yellow, and that it was “cool as hell.”

Another, Marco, said he experienced a light green flash.

“10/10,” he said. “Highly recommend.”

Recounts of the Inland Northwest onlookers are similar to those from Portugal two days ago.

Videos on social media and news outlets show an intense blue lit up the entirety of the sky with a spectacular intensity.

The European Space Agency reported that the object was faster than a typical asteroid. Given its peculiar trajectory, the agency concluded that it was a fragment of a comet that was dismantled by the earth’s atmosphere.

Though the videos have dazzled scrollers online, witnesses of the most recent cosmic display in the northwestern corner of the United States got to see the real thing – some even reported hearing it.

One identified as Christina in Lakeside, Montana, recounted hearing a loud “boom,” but said her curtains were closed. She reviewed her security cameras to see they had caught footage of a blinding white light.

Lisa in Bigfork, Montana, said she heard two loud rumbles before looking up to see the “incredibly vivid” orange and yellow blaze.

It was the first time Holly from Quincy, Washington, saw anything like it.

She described the flaming projectile was “bright and consistent” before “sputtering out in pieces, like welding sparks.”

After her sighting, she researched videos of fireballs and said her observation was similar.

“(My) brain was so confused what I was seeing,” she wrote. “It was breathtaking!!”

If anyone has photos or video footage of Monday’s fireball and would like to share it with The Spokesman-Review call Tod Stephens at (509) 459-5581 or email