The flash of what may have been a meteor over Madison, Wis., about 10 p.m. Wednesday night, as seen from a weather observatory at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. (University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences photo)
(CNN) -- Authorities in several Midwestern states were flooded Wednesday night with reports of a gigantic fireball lighting up the sky, the National Weather Service said. The fireball was visible for about 15 minutes beginning about 10 p.m., said the National Weather Service in Sullivan, Wisconsin, just west of Milwaukee.
"The fireball was seen over the northern sky, moving from west to east," said the NWS in the Quad Cities area, which includes parts of Iowa and Illinois. "Well before it reached the horizon, it broke up into smaller pieces and was lost from sight," the service said. "Several reports of a prolonged sonic boom were received from areas north of Highway 20, along with shaking of homes, trees and various other objects including wind chimes," it said.
It said the fireball was seen across parts of Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin. CNN affiliate WISN-TV said that people in Ohio also saw it.
Video from WISN showed a massive ball of light exploding across the sky. The Doppler Radar from the Quad Cities weather service appeared to capture a portion of the smoke trail from the fireball at just after 10 p.m., the NWS said. It appears as a thin line extending across portions of Grant and Iowa Counties in Wisconsin.
The NWS in Quad Cities said that it was unknown if any part of a meteorite hit the ground.
Chicago Breaking News Center...The fireball that crossed Midwest skies last night may have been a basketball-size meteor from a comet first discovered at the start of the Civil War, according to experts.
David Eicher, editor and chief of Astronomy Magazine, said that while it's believed the fireball seen Wednesday night was a meteor, that wouldn't be known for sure until and unless it is found on the ground. Astronomers believe if the object landed, it would have come down in the Great Lakes area, said Eicher, whose magazine is based in Waukesha, Wisc. There were no reports that it had been found.
"It was an extraordinarily bright meteor," said Eicher. "As bright as this thing was, the odds are that it didn't completely burn up before it hit the ground."
But he also couldn't completely rule out that what people saw were pieces of a falling satellite reentering the Earth's atmosphere as space junk.
He estimated that on impact a burning meteor could have ended up the size of a baseball. The amount of light that the object emitted indicted it was either a large chunk of stone or iron, he said.
Crazy video! I didn't see it, did you?????? Do you think baby Superman landed in some Wisconsin field in the backwoods??