Virginia reports fireball, 'boom' similar to Augusta's on March 20

AIKEN - Reports of another boom and fireball over the skies of Virginia Sunday night a week after a similar incident in Augusta have some asking if there is a connection.

But Dr. Gary Senn, of the Dupont Planetarium at the University of South Carolina Aiken's Ruth Patrick Science Education Center, says there's no need to worry.

At least so far, he said, the incidents fall within the realm of statistics, with sightings of meteors occurring about a couple times a month somewhere in the U.S.

Larger incidents involving booms that shake homes are less common, occurring about a couple times a year.

"It's a little unusual, but not unheard of," he said of having two large meteor-like incidents occur just a few states away and within a week and a half.

"...So I'm not ready to say the sky's falling."

Dr. Senn said there isn't any evidence at this point of increased meteor activity. He said if more such incidents occur in a short time frame, he then might need to reevaluate the situation.

At this point, he said he feels such incidents have been brought into the spotlight more so recently with some recent cases generating interest. Recently, officials reported finding a meteorite in the Sudan that had been tracked from outer space - considered a first. And then there was the March 20 incident in Augusta, which has brought meteorite hunters to the area offering a reward. In that case, residents reported hearing a loud boom and some saw a large fireball.

Dr. Senn said he's even heard some question whether the recent events are the result of a previous collision between two satellites, but "I don't think that's what it is."

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