Fireball incoming – meteor streaks across South Florida's night sky, shocking residents

  • Floridians were shocked to see a fireball shooting across the night sky Monday.
  • Videos showed a massive streak illuminating the sky for a second, then a flash of brilliant light.
  • Scientists say it was most likely a meteoroid – or space rock – expected to pass Earth.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Some residents of Florida were shocked to see what looked like a great ball of fire streaking across the night sky – illuminating it for a second, in a flash of brilliant light.

According to The Washington Post, those living in the peninsula saw a bright flash in the sky at about 10:18 p.m. on Monday.

While Floridians did not hear any sound from the object, The Post reported that some people in the Bahamas heard a sonic boom accompanied by some vibration.

The American Meteor Society told The Post that it was most likely a space rock that was passing by the Earth. A fireball such as the one Floridians spotted could be classified as a bright meteor.

Video: Possible Meteor Spotted Lighting Up Night Sky in South Florida (People)

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Meteoroids – which are small space rocks that could be pieces of an asteroid or fragments of a comet – can enter the atmosphere at speeds up to 160,000 mph, but they start to burn up as the friction from the air produces massive amounts of heat energy. This sometimes leaves a trail similar to a lightning flash, like what was spotted over Florida on Monday night.

The International Meteor Organization describes fireballs as “meteors that appear brighter than normal.” It says they actually occur every day “all over the Earth” but usually go unnoticed in the daytime.

The National Weather Service in the Tampa Bay area managed to catch the fireball on its Geostationary Lightning Mapper – a satellite-based technology that tracks lightning events – as it burned up off the Florida coast.

NPR wrote that scientists were arguing over whether the asteroid was 2021 GW4, a space rock that was expected to pass Earth on Monday.

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