A visitor from outer space may have landed in the Upstate.
No one could say for sure what caused a flash of light, a loud boom and an object to break apart in the sky, but two Upstate scientists said the descriptions sounded like an exploding meteor.
"It's rare, but it's possible," said David Moffett, an associate professor of physics, who runs Furman University's Henderson Astronomy Laboratory.
No meteor showers were predicted, so any meteor in the Upstate would have been a rogue, said Dr. Charles St. Lucas, chair of the Department of Astronomy at the Roper Mountain Science Center.
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While a meteor seemed most probable, the object also could have been part of an asteroid or a piece of space junk, such as a satellite, falling to Earth, St. Lucas said.
"What goes up must come down," he said.
It happened shortly before 2 a.m. Monday, and several calls from Spartanburg and Greenville counties came into the National Weather Service in Greer, said meteorologist Doug Outlaw.
"It's definitely not a weather phenomenon," Outlaw said. "There was no lightning. There was nothing of that nature."
The FAA had no report of any flight activity that could have caused a loud noise and light flash, said spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen.
Meteors heat up when they enter the atmosphere, and any gas trapped inside can explode, Moffett said.
While big chunks are usually obliterated, Moffett said fragments can reach the ground. Anyone searching for fragments of the Upstate's meteor -- if that is what it was -- would have to know the trajectory, he said.
Greenville County sheriff's deputies received six calls between 1 a.m. and 2:25 a.m. from people in the Simpsonville and Greer areas, all saying they heard a loud noise or felt their homes shake, Deputy Zach Hinton said.
Spartanburg police told the Weather Service that they received numerous reports of light and a loud boom, Outlaw said.
Some officers said it was bright enough to light up and that they saw an object breaking apart in the air, Outlaw said.
Some meteors are chunks of Mars or the moon that have been flung into space, while others come from deep space, Moffett said.
They range in size from a grain of sand to the size of a Volkswagen, Moffett said. Meteors can be made of rock or metal, he said.
The only way to tell would be to study the composition from any pieces that make it to the ground, Moffett said.
A NASA spokeswoman referred calls to local authorities.
About a dozen meteors a year explode over the United States with enough force to create a sonic boom, Moffett said.
"People don't have to worry," Moffett said. "The sky isn't falling on us."