Dr. Gary Senn, director of the Dupont Planetarium in the Ruth Patrick Science Education Center at USC Aiken, says it was a large meteor, technically called a bolide.
Weve had a couple of calls this morning from people, he said. It seems like a few people were outside and actually saw the thing itself. Others reported hearing the sound.
He said people have reported the sound to be like a clap of thunder. Sightings were of a large fireball in the sky.
About the same time as the boom was heard, a brief power outage occurred at the Medical College of Georgia Hospital at 2:41 a.m., according to hospital officials. However, spokeswoman Deborah Humphrey said there is no evidence it had anything to do with the boom.
It appears to be coincidental, she said.
Dr. Senn said its possible the meteor could have struck the ground somewhere in the area, but it all depends on whether it exploded upon entering the atmosphere which could have caused the loud boom or whether it hit at an angle that left it intact.
If it stayed intact, he said the loud sound people heard could have been that of a sonic boom.
Its very rare, but occasionally if a large enough bolide enters at the right angle it can create a sonic boom, he said.
Dr. Senn said sightings of large fireballs in the sky are somewhat rare, but have occurred before in the Augusta area.
He said those who saw or heard this mornings fireball are asked to visit the Web site www.amsmeteors.org and file a fireball sighting report. From there, the American Meteor Society will use the information to help it determine where the meteor might have collided, should it have survived the entry into the atmosphere. The report can be found on the site by clicking on fireball sightings and then scrolling to the bottom to the link fireball reporting form.
Reach Preston Sparks at (803) 648-1395, ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org