RENO, Nev. — Scientists say a giant fireball that exploded in daylight over California's Central Valley over the weekend was a rare phenomenon and much larger than most meteors.Comment on this story
Bill Cooke, a specialist in meteors at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., estimates the flaming object was about the size of a minivan.
It was seen from Sacramento to Las Vegas and in parts of northern Nevada as it entered the atmosphere with a loud "boom" about 8 a.m. Sunday.
Cooke says its disintegration probably released energy equivalent to a 5-kiloton explosion. That's a third the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II.
NASA experts say fireballs that big occur about once a year but mostly go unseen over oceans or uninhabited areas.