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Fireball across skies in West was flaming comet

MOUNTAIN VIEW — A California researcher says that fireball seen streaking across Western skies last week was a flaming comet.

The brilliant streak of light was spotted across a wide swath of the West from Reno to San Francisco before dawn on Jan. 17. The New York-based American Meteor Society received reports from about 50 people in California and Nevada who saw the bright light.

Seti Institute scientist Peter Jenniskens tells the San Francisco Chronicle (http://bit.ly/UjMKo1 ) the flash of light was a small comet that flamed out when it hit the Earth's atmosphere.

The Mountain View researcher says the comet instantly turned to dust and gas, resulting in the flash of light. One witness described it as resembling a giant orange crayon.

No pieces fell to Earth.

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle, http://www.sfgate.com

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