Caught on video: Meteor lights up SWFL sky
FORT MYERS, Fla. — Did you see the flashy streak of light that traversed the dark sky Monday night? If you didn’t, your home security camera might have.
NBC2 received numerous eyewitness reports of the odd burst of light and plenty of surveillance footage from nearby cameras flooded our social media mentions.
One camera in Cape Coral caught the streak slowly passing through the Southwest Florida night sky.
Wesley Albert lives in Port St. Lucie on the East Coast of Florida. His security footage shows just how bright the flash was for some Floridians.
The National Weather Service Tampa Bay said the odd occurrence was a bright meteor that burned up off the coast of Florida.
In fact, the meteor was scheduled to make a pass by Florida. However, it seemed to sneak by a little closer than expected.
Meteors are rocky or metallic pieces from space emitting light when flying through Earth’s atmosphere. The friction they endure as they get closer to our planet causes them to burn up or vaporize, triggering the fiery streak in the sky so many people witnessed last night. Meteors come in all shapes and sizes (some can be smaller than a grain of rice) which is why many don’t survive the trip all the way to the Earth’s surface. When seen one at a time meteors are often referred to as shooting stars. Multiple meteors witnessed close together are called meteor showers.
There were at least 200 reports by Tuesday morning of witnesses in Florida seeing the meteor’s fireball appearance reported to the International Meteor Organization (IMO) last night. The IMO is a global network of meteor observers, who collect and study meteor reports. You can see on a map where each report came from along with submitted photos and video of the event from the IMO here.
Weather satellites, put in space to monitor things like cloud cover and lightning, also caught a brief glimpse of the fireball. The National Weather Service office in Tampa released a photo from the GOES-16 satellite using the geostationary lightning mapper which also picked up on the meteor’s illumination. It’s been circled in red on the satellite image below.
Though seeing a meteor is remarkable and may seem like a once in a lifetime experience, you may be surprised to learn the material meteors are made of rains down and flies past the Earth rather often. In fact, according to NASA, around 48.5 tons of “meteoritic material” falls each day! To put that into perspective, think of an African elephant. A large adult elephant can grow up to 7 tons in weight. So if you were to round up seven of the largest elephants you could find on the African savanna, that roughly equals out to about the same weight of what falls toward Earth daily. It’s because so much of this material is small and burns up so quickly that seeing the big meteor fireballs like last night is such a captivating experience.
Do you have a video of last night’s meteor? Send us your photos and videos to moc.2-cbn@spitswen.