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Meteor Flies Over Willard

Wes Johnson, Springfield News-LeaderPublished 4:40 p.m. CT Nov. 12, 2019

Jill and Scott Wooldridge were watching TV at their home near Willard late Monday when something outside caught Jill's attention.

"Out of the corner of my eye, I saw it go over the field. It was so large and bright, brighter than your usual falling star," Jill Wooldridge recalled. "Most falling stars burn out so fast, but this one was much longer and brighter and left a trail behind."

The Wooldridges were among thousands of people who witnessed a large meteor smashing through the atmosphere from east to west over Missouri. Numerous security cameras caught the streaking object, including one that showed the meteor blazing high above and behind the Arch in St. Louis.

Many people in the St. Louis area also reported a big boom after the meteor passed.

At the Wooldridge house, Scott Wooldridge said he wasn't in a position to see what his wife witnessed. But he quickly realized the meteor came in at an angle and direction that might have been captured by Willard school security cameras.

He was right.

The technology director of Willard Public Schools, Wooldridge checked the district's security cameras and found a clear view of the meteor flashing in the distance from the Willard High School football stadium camera.

He also discovered a camera at Willard Elementary School caught the meteor as it entered the atmosphere, burned brightly and then burned out.

"The second video actually shows a smaller second object alongside the original," Scott Wooldridge said. "There are fewer clouds from this direction, though, so the 'flash' is much less pronounced."

Unlike in the St. Louis region, the Wooldridges said they didn't hear any kind of sonic boom from the meteor.

Monday night's meteor at 8:51 p.m. was likely part of the Northern Taurids meteor shower, which happens every year at this time. The meteors are from a comet as the Earth passes through the comet's debris trail.

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