SARATOGA COUNTY – Residents across five Saratoga County towns reported hearing a loud explosion and seeing the sky light up Sunday evening, Sheriff Michael Zurlo said Monday.
Efforts to pin down what caused the noise and light have come up empty-handed, Zurlo said. No damage was reported.
But one local expert later Monday afternoon said the description fits something not from Earth: a meteor.
The incident began at about 10:43 p.m. Sunday, as Saratoga County dispatchers began to receive a deluge of calls from residents about what they’d seen and heard, Zurlo said.
Residents across five towns — Galway, Milton, Providence, Greenfield and Edinburg — began calling in to report hearing a large explosion that rattled their houses and lit up the sky, Zurlo said. The Sheriff’s Department later described the light report as green.
In all, dispatchers took about 30 calls in five to 10 minutes, Zurlo said.
The Sheriff’s Department then set out to see what happened.
Dispatchers sent patrol cars to the areas to investigate. Officials also called National Grid to check on transformers. The reports sounded like transformers going, but the wide area of reports seemed to discount that, Zurlo said. Regardless, National Grid reported no activity.
The Federal Aviation Administration reported no issues with aircraft, and the National Weather Service didn’t record any weather that could have caused what was reported, Zurlo said.
Asked about a meteor, Zurlo said he had thought about that, but had gotten no further information on that possibility.
“We’re at a loss for words at this point,” Zurlo said. “We had no idea where it originated from, but we’re still continuing to make phone calls to try and find out what took place.”
When told of the descriptions based on the sheriff’s reports, Valerie Rapson, director of the Dudley Observatory at Siena College, on Monday said the description fits a meteor, and even a certain kind.
“It sounds like what they saw was a bolide,” Rapson said. “It’s a large metallic rock that comes in and explodes in the atmosphere.”
A meteor doesn’t have to be large to cause a large explosion, Rapson said. At the right speed and angle, a meteor small enough to fit in the palm of a hand could create a loud explosion and bright flash, she said.
If it was a meteor, could its remains have hit the ground? Rapson said it’s hard to tell, but it’s a possibility.
A meteor composed of more solid metal could have pieces hit the ground. A streak after the explosion would suggest that. Sunday night’s event came in overcast skies; the sheriff’s reports did not include a report of a streak.
The Capital Region has had meteors hit the ground before. In 2018, miSci celebrated the 50th anniversary of one such event in Glenville, when a potato-sized meteorite glanced off the roof of a Swaggertown Road home and was found by the home owner. The Glenville meteorite is now a part of miSci’s collection.
The investigation into what happened Sunday night was continuing. Anyone who has any information on a possible source of the explosion and light is asked to contact the Sheriff’s Department at 518-885-6761.
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