Floridians took to social media to share incredible videos of a flash of light that lit up the night sky as an asteroid passed Earth.
A meteor fragment was spotted burning up in Earth’s atmosphere above Florida on Monday night, prompting many to share slips of the event on Twitter.
Meteorologists shared various shots filmed by Florida residents, with numerous clips showing the space rock shoot across the sky before burning up at around 10:20 p.m.
WTSP-TV meteorologist Grant Gilmore posted on Twitter: “A large fireball (bright meteor) lit up the sky across Florida and the Bahamas last night. This was the view from Lakeland.”
He also said the meteor appeared to be visible on the GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Mapper and that it burned up on the Sunshine State’s Atlantic coast.
The fireball was spotted close to the same time as the small asteroid 2021 GW4 was due to pass Earth. NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said the asteroid was first spotted on April 8.
According to NASA statistics, the space rock is between 3.5 meters and 7.7 meters wide. The size of GW4 is relatively small compared to other asteroids, which can be hundreds of miles large.
It traveled at 18,700 miles per hour when it passed Earth, an estimated nine times faster than a rifle bullet.
At its closest point, 2021 GW4 passed by Earth at just 7 percent of the distance between our planet and the Moon. It was much closer to us than some geostationary satellites that orbit at around 22,000 miles.
CBS News meteorologist Zach Covey said the “flash of light” was “like a chunk of an asteroid known as 2021 GW4.”
He continued: “It was scheduled to make an extremely close approach of only 16,000 miles.”
Covey added in a separate tweet: “ICYMI (in case you missed it) We can confirm that asteroid 2021 GW4, according to closest approach data, made its closest approach of 9,300 miles, much closer than the expect 1600 mile approach forecast. This explains the fireball. Thanks for coming to my TED talk.”
NASA defines asteroids as “rocky, airless remnants left over from the early formation of our solar system about 4.6 billion years ago.”
It added: “When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere (or that of another planet like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or ‘shooting stars’ are called meteors.”