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Saratoga County Sheriff: Meteor likely cause of widespread Sunday night explosion reports

Saratoga County Sheriff: Meteor likely cause of widespread Sunday night explosion reports

Saratoga County Sheriff: Meteor likely cause of widespread Sunday night explosion reports
Photographer: Gazette file photo

SARATOGA COUNTY -- A meteor is the likely cause of Sunday night's widespread reports of an explosion and green light over Saratoga County, sheriff's officials said.

They issued their conclusion Thursday, four days after Saratoga County dispatchers were deluged with 911 calls reporting the explosion and light in the overcast sky.

"After discussions with all of our law enforcement partners, government agencies, including the FAA, FBI, ATF, National Weather Service and NASA as well as discussions with scientists and scholars, it is our determination that the likely cause of the event was a meteor entering and burning up in the atmosphere," the Sheriff's Department wrote.

The sheriff originally reported that more than two dozen residents across five towns -- Galway, Milton, Providence, Greenfield and Edinburg -- in the county deluged 911 with calls after the 10:43 p.m. Sunday event. 

Based on other comments received, the sheriff's officials on Thursday expanded the area to include Broadalbin in Fulton County,  harlton and Ballston Spa.

They reported hearing a large explosion that rattled their houses and lit up the sky in a green light, officials said.

The Sheriff's Department then set out to see what happened.

Dispatchers sent patrol cars to the areas to investigate. They checked with National Grid to check on transformers. The reports sounded like transformers going, but the wide area of reports seemed to discount that, officials 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, officials said.

Sheriff Michael Zurlo said Monday he had considered a meteor also as a possibility.

Valerie Rapson, director of the Dudley Observatory at Siena College, on Monday said the description fit a meteor, even a certain kind, a bolide. That kind is a metallic rock that explodes in the atmosphere.

Sheriff's officials also since contacted Rapson.

If it were a meteor, could its remains have hit the ground? Rapson said earlier it was 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 (pictured above) 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.

Previous: 50 years later, Glenville meteorite still inspires, April 11, 2018

 

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