Meteor likely cause of boom heard across Wasatch Front, experts say

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SALT LAKE CITY — The cause of a large boom that was heard on the Wasatch Front on Saturday has yet to be determined, but all signs seem to be pointing to the skies above.

The first reports of a large boom began around 8.32am on Saturday, leading to a flurry of social media posts. Many videos uploaded from home cameras that captured the loud boom, heard across much of the Wasatch Front, northern Utah and even parts of southern Idaho.

Seismograph stations at the University of Utah quickly confirmed that the boom was not an earthquake. Shortly after, Governor Spencer Cox and the Utah National Guard tweeted that the boom was unrelated to any military installation, a common cause of sonic booms.

All attention then turned to the galaxies.

Several people reported seeing a hot object in the sky, thinking the boom might be related to a meteor. The Salt Lake City office of the National Weather Service bolstered the meteor theory when lightning appeared on its maps that was not caused by a thunderstorm.

Videos have emerged of a meteor shooting across the morning sky to 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 lines up with 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 passed Earth in 1992. It produced up to 150 to 200 visible meteors per hour in the past.

KSL-TV spoke with Patrick Wiggins. He has an asteroid named after him, he worked at the local planetarium for decades and now volunteers for NASA.

He said it’s not uncommon to see a meteor pass over Utah, but it’s rare to hear a meteor.

If you heard it, like a lot of 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, or wherever you go.

“Some of them are more expensive than gold,” Wiggins said. “You didn’t know you just walked past a $50,000 boulder.”

Contributor: Carter Williams, Michael Locklear, KSL-TV

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Ashley Fredde covers social services, minority communities and women’s issues for KSL.com. She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She graduated from the University of Arizona.

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