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Mysterious explosion and daylight fireball in Nevada, California skies (+video)

A loud explosion and a streak of light occurred over roughly a 600-mile line across Nevada and California. It was probably a meteor, say astronomers.

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"If you hear a sonic boom or loud explosion, that's a good indication that some fragments may have reached the ground," Lunsford told The Associated Press. "We'll have to get some people to work on it to pinpoint where it broke up and see if anything can be found on the ground."

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Lunsford said more than 20 people in the two states had filed reports with his group by midmorning about seeing the fireball.

"I have been looking at the sky for 30 years, and I have never witnessed something so amazing and puzzling. It is an event that makes you glad to be alive," said Matthew Neal of San Francisco. "The main body was bright green and the head was bright red and white."

Greg Giroux of June Lake, Calif., located along the eastern Sierra just west of Yosemite National Park, also was impressed.

"This was by far the brightest fireball/shooting star I've ever seen, especially since it was in full sunlight," he said. "After the flash, it broke up into pieces, then I lost sight of it as it went behind a mountain."

In Nevada, the light show was seen as far east as Elko, about 300 miles east of Reno, and as far south as the Las Vegas area.

Marcia Standifer of Spring Creek, near Elko, and her husband were out drinking coffee when they saw the fireball at the same time.

"It was a very bright ball of white light, then dimmer to the horizon," she said. "We thought this was very unusual due to the bright daylight and how vivid the object was."

Tracey Cordaro of North Las Vegas said the sighting "took my breath away."

"It was amazing," she said. "It looked as if it was disintegrating rapidly, but was still quite large when it disappeared from my view ... (It was) bright green, visible in the bright sunlight."

Dan Ruby, associate director of the Fleischmann Planetarium at the University of Nevada, Reno, said it's unlikely the fireball had anything to do with the current peak of the Lyrid meteor shower.

"People are putting two and two together and saying it has something to do with the meteor shower," he said. "But the fireball was probably coincidental and unrelated to the peak of the meteor shower."

Though the fireball was seen over such a wide area, Ruby said it was likely just "a little bigger than a washing machine."

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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