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The Great Michigan Fireball of January 2018


Longtime friend and colleague Todd Slisher has been an astronomy geek since his days growing up in the Grand Rapids area. He was an active student member of GRAAA prior to going on to college at the University of Michigan, and then a career as a museum/planetarium specialist. Todd is currently the executive director of the Sloan Museum and Longway Planetarium in Flint. On Tuesday evening, January 16th, Slisher was in his home near Brighton watching “Jurassic Park” on his basement theater system with his twin 9 year old sons when his phone started going crazy.

Messages all had the same theme. Was he aware of the "fireball"? Had he seen the "flash in the sky" Had he heard the explosive breakup? Facebook and Twitter were abuzz. With the theater sound cranked up and thundering footfalls of prehistoric creatures coming through the subwoofer, he and the boys had been oblivious to what was going on almost over their heads.

Fortunate observers, dash cameras, and surveillance devices throughout the lower peninsula of Michigan and in surrounding states and provinces had captured a large falling meteor (commonly called a fireball or bolide) and its intense explosive breakup just after 8pm that Tuesday evening.