WALLA WALLA — A fireball that lit up the sky early Wednesday was likely a remnant of Halley’s comet.
The meteor streaked across Northwest skies about 6 a.m. moving east to west. Among the many who saw it were two local men out for morning walks.
“It was a single bright light moving very rapidly,” said Bud Zundel, who was on Alder Street near Edison Elementary School at that time. “It was moving much faster than what a small plane would have been traveling.”
Richard Eilerson saw the fireball as he was walking along Frog Hollow Road.
“It was the brightest thing I ever saw,” he said. “It was just a super-bright light that didn’t lose altitude. It was traveling east to west and had a huge tail. It disappeared over the Richland area.”
Zundel and Eilerson weren’t the only ones who saw the phenomenon. Robert Lunsford of the American Meteor Society it had 165 reports from sky watchers in the Northwest and Canada, he told the Statesman Journal newspaper in Salem, Ore.
Marty Scott, an astronomy instructor at Walla Walla University, said the fireball was most likely a meteor from the Orionid meteor shower, which peaked Sunday and Monday.
The Orionid meteor shower “is known for bright fireball meteors,” he said. “The shower is produced when the Earth passes through the debris left from the famous Halley’s comet.
“The NASA all-sky network detected 15 Orionid fireballs during the night of the peak this year,” he added. “We can see meteors from this shower for a week or two before the peak to a week or two after the peak.
“Sorry I missed this one,” Scott said.
Andy Porter can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8318.