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SALT LAKE CITY – The cause of a major boom heard over the Wasatch front on Saturday has not yet been determined, but all signs seem to point to the sky above.
The first reports of a major boom started around 8:32 a.m. Saturday, resulting in a deluge of posts on social media. Many uploaded videos from home cameras capturing the loud bang can be heard across most of the Wasatch Front, northern Utah, and even parts of southern Idaho.
The University of Utah seismograph stations quickly confirmed that the boom was not an earthquake. Shortly afterwards, both Governor Spencer Cox and the Utah National Guard tweeted that the boom had nothing to do with military installations, a common cause of sonic booms.
All attention then went to the galaxies.
Several people reported seeing a burning object in the sky, thinking the bang could be related to a meteor. The National Weather Service’s office in Salt Lake City supported the meteor theory when flashes appeared on the maps that were not caused by a thunderstorm.
Videos have surfaced of a meteor blasting through the morning sky in Roy just before the boom.
“We now have video confirmation of the meteor heard in northern Utah, southern Idaho and elsewhere this morning,” the weather service tweeted.
The timing matches the Perseid Meteor Showers, which peaked on Friday, according to Space.com. The website notes that the meteor show is caused by ice and rock from Comet Swift-Tuttle, which last flew past Earth in 1992. In the past, it has produced as many as 150 to 200 visible meteors per hour.
Strengthening the meteor theory for this morning #tree in #Utah, the two reddish pixels shown in Davis and Morgan counties are from the GOES-17 Lightning Mapper, but not associated with evidence of thunderstorms in satellite or radar. Probably the meteor trail/flash #utwxpic.twitter.com/qRO2Rsfca7
— NWS Salt Lake City (@NWSSaltLakeCity) August 13, 2022
KSL-TV spoke to Patrick Wiggins. An asteroid is named after him, he worked for decades at the local planetarium and now serves as a volunteer for NASA.
He said it’s not rare to see a meteor blast over Utah, but it’s rare to hear a meteor.
If you heard it, as many people did today, that means it was close, and chances are there are fragments of that meteor somewhere in Utah, he said. Wiggins’ advice is to look around your house, or wherever you go.
“Some of them are more expensive than gold,” Wiggins said. “Don’t you know you just walked past a $50,000 rock.”
Contributing: Carter Williams, Michael Locklear, KSL-TV