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U.S. Naval Observatory explains green light seen in the sky

Thursday - 9/5/2013, 1:00pm  ET

What was that green light in the sky?

U.S. Naval Observatory's Geoff Chester explains.

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WASHINGTON - A green light in the sky Wednesday night left many in the D.C. region saying, "did you see that?"

WTOP received calls about a green, possibly blue, light flashing in the sky at about 11 p.m. Twitter buzzed with reports about the light seen in Richmond and Edinburg in Virginia as well as Connecticut and New Jersey.

It was a fireball and it's actually very common, says Geoff Chester with the U.S. Naval Observatory.

"They happen quite often, the thing is that on a day-to-day basis there is a fireball like this somewhere over the earth several times a day," Chester says.

"But you have to remember that 70 percent of the earth's surface is covered with water, 80 percent of the population lives near the coastline -- so that's a fairly small portion of the earth's surface and it happened to be an extraordinarily clear night last night over a very large area."

The fireball occurred when a rock the size of a basketball tried to occupy the same part of space that the earth does, Chester says. Fireballs often have a green glow with a blueish train behind them, as reported by many witnesses.

Chester says Wednesday evening's fireballs was reportedly seen from Tennessee to Ontario.

"They are very spectacular, they happen completely unannounced, take most people completely off guard and can really surprise the heck out of you, I mean, every time I've seen one it's almost caused me to jump," he says.

NASA captured a similar fireball in a video shot Aug. 28 in Alabama.

Read what some people had to say about the light on Twitter:

Did you see the light? Leave us a comment on Facebook or tweet at us using #WTOP.

WTOP's Lacey Mason and Nick Pisano contributed to this report.

Follow @LaceyWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

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