Woman who saw meteor go over her apartment last night says it was colorful, mesmerizing

By: Martha Boehm Email
By: Martha Boehm Email

At about ten o’clock last night, a bright light made Cathy Poellinger look up at the sky.

"It seemed to make a straight line and it stayed horizontal to the ground,” Poellinger said.

She thought it may have been a comet or a meteor going from Southwest to Northeast over her apartment on La Crosse’s Southside.

“It was totally circular, blue in color and it had red around it and a long red trail," Poellinger said.

Gordon Stewart is the former president of the La Crosse Area Astronomical Society. He said, "It’s probably a stony meteorite. It’s a basaltic kind of rock. And what I mean by that is it’s the kind of rock that you’d see on the moon, if you see the darker areas on the moon.”

Stewart says the meteor was moving much faster than it appeared.

“It’s moving along at a relative speed probably at, oh, say around, 25-37,000 miles an hour," Stewart said, adding that when the meteor entered the earth’s atmosphere, it could have been about the size of a large pumpkin, weighing about 500 pounds.

“You know, it’s hard to speculate the exact size, but I can see by the energy and everything that might have happened been a reasonably good size rock because anything smaller than that would have probably burned up before it got in that close," Stewart explained.

Stewart says the meteor was likely lower in the atmosphere because of what Poellinger and other people say they heard after the bright light disappeared.

Poellinger said when she lost sight of the meteor, she "opened the door and started to head into my apartment and I heard this big boom.”

Stewart says that sound may have been when the meteor was going through the sound barrier. Poellinger says she’s never seen or heard anything quite like it before.

“I was mesmerized. I was amazed. It was awesome," she said, hoping she’ll get to see something like that again someday.

Stewart says the red and blue colors that Poellinger and others say they saw was likely due to the atmosphere. He says depending on the amount of moisture in the air and where you were at the time, the meteor would likely have been red and blue in color.


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