A NASA camera located at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, NM, captured this image of the meteor. (Source: NASA)
PHOENIX (CBS5) -
A bright object described as a "very large fireball with an orange glow" triggered dozens of calls to the CBS 5 newsroom Saturday night.
The mysterious object turned out to be a meteor, according to the National Weather Service.
The meteor was seen across the Southwest, stretching from Arizona and New Mexico to Texas, said the American Meteor Society. It fielded 76 reports alone.
The glowing object streaking across the sky startled some residents.
"We honestly thought it was a large airplane crashing in flames," said Justin Lynn, of Show Low. "We witnessed the falling object around 8:05 p.m."
A resident of Elephant Butte, NM, contacted the American Meteor Society and reported it was the "brightest nighttime event I have witnessed."
Other people described it as "amazing," "spectacular" and "tremendous to see."
It's not uncommon to see several meteors per hour on any given night, but the one that hurtled across the sky Saturday night was more radiant than usual.
The meteor was not connected to a meteor shower.
CBS 5 meteorologist Jason Kadah said the next meteor shower is one of the more modest ones of the year - the Lyrids. The peak is April 21.
According to NASA, "Shooting stars, or meteors, are bits of interplanetary material falling through Earth's atmosphere and heated to incandescence by friction. These objects are called meteoroids as they are hurtling through space, becoming meteors for the few seconds they streak across the sky and create glowing trails."
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