To the American Meteor Society it was simply Event 2281-2021, an unremarkable name for a spectacular fireball that made an uncomfortably close pass to Earth on Monday.
A fiery trail and apparent space-rock explosion was captured on doorbell cameras and dashcams and was visible to stargazers from Florida to the Bahamas at about 10.19pm ET.
A TV crew in West Palm Beach was recording as the object streaked across the heavens; a homeowner in Parkland captured the event on a security camera; several others uploaded footage to the AMS database; residents in Grand Bahama reported a sonic boom.
On Tuesday, debate was under way as to what it was they witnessed. Some experts believe it was asteroid 2021 GW4, spotted for the first time five days ago by astronomers at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter in Arizona, and calculated to travel dangerously close on Monday to a number of satellites orbiting Earth, the nearest only 1,200 miles away.
Some believe the object could have been a chunk from the asteroid. The astronomer Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said the object was a run-of-the-mill fireball and nothing to do with GW4.
By mid-morning on Tuesday more than 200 people had submitted reports and videos to the AMS, making this one of the largest events in its 2021 database.
Last month a “meteor shower” that mesmerized watchers in the skies above Seattle turned out to be falling debris from a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocketlaunched earlier in the day from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center.
On Monday, there were no space launches from US soil. The light show visible over the Atlantic would almost certainly have been caused by a celestial object.
Quelle: The Guardian
'What Is That In The Sky?' Floridians Catch Meteor's Close Brush With Earth
It wasn't a bird or a plane that gave Floridians a shock late Monday night.
It wasn't even Superman.
A meteor shot across the sky around 10 p.m. Monday.
Residents along the state's Atlantic coast from West Palm Beach south to Miami shared videos of the surprising sight on social media.
Dashcam footage and security videos showed a still, dark night suddenly lit up by what appeared to be a large fireball streaking diagonally across the sky. In just a few seconds, it was over.
According to NASA, an asteroid is a small, rocky object that orbits the sun. A meteor is what happens when a meteoroid — a small piece of an asteroid or comet — burns up upon entering Earth's atmosphere, creating a streak of light in the sky.
There's disagreement online over whether the Monday night visitor was the asteroid 2021 GW4 that was expected to make a close shave with Earth's surface Monday evening.
Close for a space rock anyway. It was expected that 2021 GW4 would fly between 12,000 and 16,00 miles from Earth's surface, according to EarthSky.org. It's estimated to be traveling at 18,706 miles per hour, relative to Earth.
Zach Covey, a meteorologist for a local CBS affiliate in Florida, wrote on Twitter that if the meteor seen Monday was indeed 2021 GW4, it likely flew much closer to Earth's surface than what was originally expected. Covey said the asteroid made its closest approach of roughly 9,300 miles.
He tweeted, "To put this in perspective, most close approach asteroids are between 1 and 3 millions miles from earth."
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics, shared from his personal Twitter account that the phenomenon seen in Florida had nothing to do with GW4.
The Geostationary Lightning Mapper of the National Weather Service captured the bright meteor as it burned off the coast of Florida before moving on through space.