Comets Cause Spectacular Sight In Oklahoma Sky

Monday, November 18th 2013, 11:02 am
By: Richard Clark

People across Oklahoma are being treated to an amazing sight in the night sky, thanks to two comets, one familiar and one that's brand new.

The familiar one is causing the Leonid meteor shower. The shower happens every year when Earth passes through the tail of Comet Tempel-Tuttle, which was first discovered in 1865.

This year people across Oklahoma and bordering states have reported seeing brilliant meteors crashing toward Earth thanks to the Leonids. They're called that because they appear to radiate from a point in the Leo the Lion constellation.

Nathan Rees, a deputy with the Chatauqua County Sheriff's Office in southeast Kansas, captured one on his dashcam at 9:47 Saturday night, November 16, 2013. He posted the video on YouTube and said the meteor lit up the entire sky with a green light and he heard two loud explosions.

Bridget Grubb posted on the News On 6 Facebook page that she and her husband saw it on the way back from visiting her mother. They were on the Gilcrease Expressway near Berryhill when they saw it.

"It was something I will never forget & was absolutely beautiful. The sky lit up an assortment of vivid colors. It started small (kind of like a falling star) but ended huge. It was falling fast & after about 4 seconds it was over. It seemed really, really close!" she wrote.

The American Meteor Society also received dozens of reports of a similar sight at about 9:35 on Sunday night. 

The reports came from people in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and Nebraska.

Visit the American Meteor Society's reports page.

The other spectacular sight in the night sky is the Comet ISON.

11/17/2013: Related Story: Skywatch: Comet ISON Visible To The Naked Eye

ISON was just discovered on September 21, 2012. The comet has grown much brighter over the last few days and is visible to the naked eye as a bright green smudge in the eastern sky.

It will pass only 39,900,000 miles from Earth on December 26, 2013.

Because of the full moon, the best time to see both spectacles is before dawn after the moon has set. However, as many Oklahomans have learned over the last two nights, some meteors will be so bright they'll be visible regardless of the time of night.

This year's Leonid meteor shower peaked on November 17, but it doesn't end until November 30.