Colored ‘fireballs’ light up evening sky

WAILUA — Residents are still talking about the unique light show they witnessed in the evening skies last week.

A “big ol’ honking fireball” was what Steve Yoder said he saw while he was on his way to Wailua from Waimea the night of Dec. 2. A “flaming green” object lit up the eastern sky right before 9 p.m.

“I hadn’t started drinking yet,” he said with a laugh.

In fact, Yoder said he found it hard to believe there has not yet been an explanation for what he saw, much like the loud noise over Kalaheo reported by residents in May of this year.

“I’ve seen meteorites all my life,” he said. But added that what he saw was much different. “It was either a gigantic asteroid or one of the biggest meteorites I have ever seen.”

About the size of a dime in the sky, it traveled at a downward angle for less than five seconds until it disappeared into the horizon, he said.

Residents as far as Anahola also reported seeing similar “orange and green” objects beginning around dusk the same evening, “some of them hovering over car ports in Anahola,” said an Eastside resident who wished to remain anonymous.

The observer was one of many Eastside residents, particularly in the Waipouli and Wailua Homesteads areas, who saw unusual activity occurring around 8 p.m.

“There was an incredible number of shooting stars that night,” they added. “We always have beautiful stars dashing everywhere, but this was an amazing sight.”

“PMRF did not have any range operations, either on land or in the air on the evening of Dec. 2,” wrote Pacific Missile Range Facility’s spokesperson Tom Clements. “As a reminder, we also did not have operations on the evening that the (possibly jet) noise was heard over Kalaheo.”

University of Hawai‘i Professor of Astronomy Dr. Gareth Wynn-Williams said what witnesses are describing “certainly sounds like a large meteor.”

“While it’s always a thrill to see one, they are not all that uncommon and they don’t get centrally recorded anywhere, as far as I know,” he wrote in an e-mail Thursday. “But if you were to see part of it actually hit the ground, it would be well worth searching for the meteorite itself.”

What one observes in the sky is actually called a meteor and is referenced as a meteorite when it hits the ground, he added.

“Only the very largest meteors make it through to be meteorites,” he said.

Whether or not the objects seen were actually meteors, they continue to be unidentified. However, “the most reliable meteor shower of the year,” according to Skyscrapers Inc., is set to peak this weekend.

More than 100 meteors can be seen per hour during the Geminids meteor shower and it should be “a great show for Hawai‘i,” according to gohawaii.com.

The shower can occur between Dec. 7 and Dec. 17, but peaks Dec. 13 and 14.

• Coco Zickos, business and environmental writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 251) or czickos@kauaipubco.com.

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