Above: news report from WAVY TV 10.
Update, Tue 3/30/2009 9:50 AM: There’s been some word from Geoff Chester at the USNO that the fireball might have been a reentering Soyuz booster from Russia, but the latest info from the Joint Space Ops Center at VAFB is that they have been tracking Russian rocket fragments among other space junk and the east coast fireball was not a manmade object:
The JSpOC tracks over 19,000 manmade objects in space. The “bright light” that was reported on the East Coast on Sunday, 29 March at 9:45 p.m. EST was not a result of any trackable manmade object on reentry. Natural phenomena are not tracked by JSpOC professionals.
So at the moment the likely explanation is a small meteor.
There have been reports all up and down the east coast from Maryland to the Carolinas of bright lights and rumbling sounds in the sky last night (Sunday) at about 9:40 PM. I remember hearing a rumble over DC around then but dismissed it as just planes taking off from DCA or Andrews AFB; turns out it may have been a meteor exploding as it entered Earth’s atmosphere.
Bad Astronomer has some notes on the physics of such debris-entry events, and Wonkette has rounded up more news links with the usual dose of snark.
Anyone pick up meteorite bits?
(See above for update)