Bay Area stargazers caught a glimpse of a meteor over the Peninsula Friday night, Feb. 15, but it probably wasn't related to the devastating meteor that landed in Russia nor the asteroid that flew by just 17,000 miles from Earth Friday.
Social-media users reported seeing the blue flash of the meteor flying west at about 8 p.m. tonight, and sightings were reported throughout the Bay Area, from Santa Clara to Fairfield, and even in the Central Valley cities of Fresno and Stockton.
Jonathan Braidman, an astronomer with the Chabot Space and Science Center in Oakland, said that it appears the three astronomical events seen Friday across the globe were unrelated.
The meteor that exploded over Russia -- reported to have injured 1,000 people -- and the asteroid that came closer to Earth than the orbit of the moon, and the Bay Area meteor each seemed to move in a different trajectory, based on the evidence Braidman's seen, indicating they were from different points of origin, he said.
The Bay Area fireball was what astronomers call a "sporadic meteor," an event that can happen several times a day but most of the time happens over the ocean, away from human eyes, and brings as much as 15,000 tons of space debris to Earth each year.
Meteors, which are hunks of rock and metal from space that fall to Earth, burn up as they go through Earth's atmosphere, which is what apparently caused Friday's bright flash of light, Braidman said.
It was likely smaller than another meteor that landed in the Bay Area in October, which caused a loud sonic boom as it fell, breaking apart and spreading rocks, called meteorites, in the North Bay.
Meteors can come in showers, sometimes when the Earth passes through the tail of a comet. The most visible in the Bay Area is the Perseid meteor shower, which occurs every August, he said.
"Any time you get out to a dark sky take a look up and you might get to see something like that if you get lucky," Braidman said.