In one of the largest meteor events of 2021 so far, more than 250 people submitted reports of a great ball of fire in the sky above Florida, believed to be a chunk of an asteroid that burned up in the earth’s atmosphere.
The American Meteor Society said the fireball was spotted over Florida – and could be seen as far as Georgia – at 0217 GMT on Tuesday. The AMS received 259 reports of the sighting.
WOAH! Big flash and streak across sky in West Palm Beach. Happened moments ago while we were on Facebook Live for a @CBS12 story.
Working to figure out what it was. pic.twitter.com/VDl9pFtb3h
— Jay O'Brien (@jayobtv) April 13, 2021
Most of the videos showed a ball of fire coming down at a steep angle, before exploding in an orange flash and disappearing from the night sky.
My vantage point of the meteor / small asteroid lighting up the South Florida sky. Looking east from near Marco Island. pic.twitter.com/pZL2B6jeBE
— Jared Heil (@SunnyBreezeJH) April 13, 2021
The exact origin of the object was unclear. Some speculated that it could be the 2021 GW4, a space rock the size of a car that was supposed to make a pass between the earth and the moon – or a piece that had broken off of it.
However, GW4 passed by the earth on Monday morning, at an “exceptionally close” 12,000 miles, according to the Virtual Telescope Project in Europe.
The Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics astronomer Jonathan McDowell said the fireball over Florida had “nothing to do with GW4.”
AMS tracking showed the space rock exploding over the eastern coast of Florida, so its remains are probably somewhere on the bottom of the sea.
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