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A SHOOTING STAR SHINES BRIGHT DEEP IN HEART OF TEXAS

It wasn't the end of the world. It just looked like it to the people who saw a cosmic fireworks show over Southwest skies.

A meteor streaking through midday skies above West Texas and New Mexico on Thursday sent residents scurrying to their phones to report what many feared was an airplane exploding or some kind of aerial collision.

Robert Simpson saw it from his home near Fort Davis and was delighted. But then, he had a better idea of what it was.

"It always kind of floors you," said Simpson, a spokesman for McDonald Observatory, 175 miles southeast of El Paso.

The meteor appeared at 12:47 p.m. as a flash about as bright as the surface of a setting sun, he said.

Observatory officials said reports given by people throughout El Paso -- the light, an explosive blast and a smoke trail -- were all consistent with the appearance of a daytime meteor, also known as a fireball, or bolide.

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