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The source of a resounding boom in Salt Lake City? Probably a meteor.

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When a thunderous boom was heard in the Salt Lake City area over the weekend, it confused residents. Was the seemingly inexplicable noise an earthquake or construction noise? Maybe it was military testing or something from outer space?

After hearing the explosion during a race on Saturday morning, Utah Governor Spencer Cox (R) tweeted that all signs pointed to a meteor.

Multiple doorbell cameras capture audio of the boom, which was heard in northern Utah and southern Idaho. Then there was a mystery to solve: Cox had said the cause of the boom was not an earthquake, which the University of Utah has independently confirmedor related to military tests, as had been the case in a similar incident in April.

The Salt Lake City office of the National Weather Service found itself playing detective, using satellite data from the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system to scan the sky above Salt Lake City. He was looking for lightning, even though lightning wasn’t really what he was looking for.

Turns out the mighty GOES satellite can also pick up flashes of light emitted by exploding meteors.

Sure enough, the satellite picked up two bright flashes on Saturday morning. The flashes did not appear to be consistent with thunderstorm activity in the area, meaning it was more than likely the satellite picked up a passing meteor.

Ultimately, video evidence from Utah’s Snowbasin ski resort provided near absolute proof that Saturday’s boom was caused by a meteor. Some cameras managed to capture a fireball, which is larger than a normal meteor, flying over the scenic Utah sky that same morning.

Saturday’s meteor passed over Utah just after the peak of the Perseid meteor shower, although it’s unclear if the meteor was part of that event – which is caused by debris visible from comet Swift-Tuttle – or whether the two events happened to align.

The Perseid meteor shower has many colors of shooting stars. There is a reason for this.

Saturday’s boom is not the first time a mysterious explosion has caused widespread confusion.

last september, NBC Washington reported that dozens of people called 911 after a mysterious loud boom was heard in the Shenandoah Valley. It was initially unclear what could have caused a strong boom on the ground.

According to local reports, meteorologists in the area used lightning tracking satellite technology to confirm that the boom was most likely caused by a meteor. A handful of observations, including of a pilot who spotted the meteor moving relatively low in the atmosphere, also helped astronomers to NASA confirms that the incident was an exploding meteor.

Some Reddit users Digging into the noise from Saturday suggested the meteor’s passing could have been predicted decades ago.

On August 10, 1972, a meteor known as the “Great Daylight Fireball” entered the atmosphere over Utah and traveled hundreds of miles across Canada before re-entering space. Great photos of the fireball show it crossing the Grand Tetons.

Some astronomers have speculated that the asteroid that caused the fireball was on a resonance of around 25 years, meaning it would pass through the region in 1997 and again in 2022, according to a prediction by Austrian astronomer Zdenek Ceplecha.

Scientists have expressed skepticism about such an appearance in 2022, and nothing notable was observed in 1997.

“I think it’s very unlikely to be the same object, but it’s fun to consider the possibility,” Mark Boslough, a physicist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, said in an email. mail.

Boslough wrote that scientists should be able to plot a trajectory for Saturday’s fireball to determine if the events are linked.

“I don’t expect it to match the Great Daylight Fireball’s post-1972 orbit, but it would be a fantastic event if it did,” he said. “Even then, there would have been no reason to expect it to re-enter the atmosphere over Utah, since the Earth’s rotation is out of sync with its orbit or the orbit of an asteroid. Coincidences happen.”

Jason Samenow contributed to this report.

Mary Cashion

The author Mary Cashion