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Fireball meteor lights up sky along Florida coast
Drivers from Miami Beach to Melbourne slowed to look up. People walking outside stopped in their tracks. And astronomers who missed it lamented the lost opportunity..
Around 7 p.m. tonight, what experts say was likely a meteor coasted through the dimming sky for a few seconds, producing what observers described as a large white flame with an elongated tail.
Initially, some thought it was an airplane crashing. After getting calls, Martin County deputies called aviation officials in Miami to verify that no plane was in distress.
Others began calling the National Weather Service's Miami office, meteorologist Barry Baxter said.
The flaming object likely was most visible near the line dividing Martin and Palm Beach counties, Baxter said. He said meteor sightings are more common in mid-August, during an astronomical event called the Perseid Meteor Shower.
Baxter is waiting for confirmation from NASA to determine exactly what it was.
Jack Horkheimer, director of the planetarium at the Miami Museum of Science, said that if the burst of flame was not part of a spacecraft re-entering the atmosphere, it was likely a ''sporadic fireball meteor,'' larger than those in periodic meteor showers.
''This one could've been from a baseball to a basketball-sized chunk of space rock that slammed into our Earth's atmosphere at a very high speed,'' said Horkheimer, who missed it because he came home from work a bit early.
``The friction of the atmosphere causes it to burn up and it probably disintegrated before it hit the ground.''
Horkheimer added that sporadic fireball meteors enter the Earth's atmosphere daily but they aren't sighted often because the space chunks float down during daylight, over uninhabited areas, or while people are sleeping.
''This occurred during late rush-hour traffic when a lot of people are still outside,'' he said. ``The timing was right for human perception in South Florida.''
Originally posted by jrod
Three were spotted at at my place in Florida last night. They were all near Mars and spotted after 9pm.
Anyone know what the source of these, there aren't any meteor showers this time of the year that I know about and all were very bight and lasted a few seconds.