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A Mysterious Meteor Lit Up the Night Sky Over Detroit and People Rightly Freaked Out

The night sky over a large swath of Michigan briefly lit up as bright as day on Tuesday, sending many residents into a panic over what could have possibly caused such a burst. Was it an alien invasion? A huge explosion? An actual incoming airstrike just days after that terrifying false alarm in Hawaii? 

It turns out, it was merely a rare meteor -- roughly six feet wide -- burning up as it entered the atmosphere at about 28,000 miles per hour, according to The Washington Post. Nevertheless, amidst the confusion in the immediate aftermath many people took to social media, posting videos of the mysterious incident and publicly wondering what the hell had just happened.

According to NASA officials, the meteor burst through the sky at 8:08pm. It was also big enough -- and moving fast enough -- to noticeably rumble the ground upon impact. The US Geological Survey (USGS) reports that it registered a 2.0 on the Richter scale, meaning it caused the equivalent of a micro earthquake.

While it was certainly an unusual sight for most Michiganders, meteors this large burst through the atmosphere as frequently as about once a month according to Bill Cooke of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, per an interview with The Washington Post. However, they rarely make the news since most people don't see ones that get this bright, he said.

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist. Follow him @jwmcgauley.