Florida: Mysterious Fireball Lights Up The Night Sky

Hundreds of people across Florida witnessed a rare, mysterious phenomenon on Monday night when the night sky lit up due to a mysterious fireball. While there has been no official confirmation regarding the origin or the cause of the fireball, it is now being widely accepted that the streak of light was caused by a meteor that broke up as it entered the earth’s atmosphere.

According to Fox 32 Chicago, 100’s of people spread across a large area – ranging from Marco Island to Orlando, up to Crystal River reported seeing the bright streak of light. Several people who had their dashboard cameras on at the time were able to record the phenomenon as it happened. In fact, several of these videos were uploaded to YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms within hours of the incident. A video of the incident was also captured by a dash cam placed on the car belonging to a Venice Police Department Officer. From the time stamp of the video, it is seen that the incident happened at around 11:17 p.m. local time. This corroborates with several other sightings that were reported by 100’s of users at the same time. There were also reports of people seeing the fireball from as far as Alabama and Georgia. However, no videos have been released from those areas.

Usually, data from celestial sightings such as these are compiled by The American Meteorological Society which lets users report and group sightings. This helps them create a map of the area where the sightings were reported from. In this particular instance, the Society had more than 93 confirmed reports. Meanwhile, some experts have confirmed that the streak of light and the fireball was indeed caused a by a meteor. They did, however, go on to add that this was a very bright streak which could have been caused by a meteor that was larger in size compared to “usual” small ones that rain down the earth almost every day.

This is of course not the first time that we have heard of such mysterious fireballs lighting up the night sky. There have been several other such reports from across the world. One of the most famous ones was reported a few years ago in Russia. Known as the Chelyabinsk meteor, this was a very large asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Russia on February 15, 2013. The entry into the atmosphere was made at around 69,000 km/h or 42,900 mph. The intense heat caused during this high-speed entry resulted into a super bright meteor that lit up the night sky across a wide area with people living more than a 100 km away being able to see it. It was brighter than the sun and some people even reported feeling intense heat as the meteor neared the surface. Later estimates show that the fireball caused by this asteroid was momentarily 30 times brighter than the sun.

Later studies went on to prove that the meteor had exploded at an altitude of 29.7 kilometers (approximately 18 miles) above the surface of the Earth. This large size of the meteor and the explosion meant that it was able to cause significant damage to structures on the ground – without it even crashing onto the ground. The shock wave released by the blast produced a hot cloud of dust and gas. In fact, the total energy released by this phenomenon was later estimated to be about 29 times the energy released from the atomic bomb detonated at Hiroshima. Following the incident, Russian authorities confirmed that it had left more than 1,491 people injured. This included 311 children all of whom sought medical attention.

[Featured Image by Pixabay]

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