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See a meteor explode in a dazzling fireball that lit up Florida skies

Officials say it was definitely an exploding space rock behind the dramatic show.

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dinosaur-asteroid

A solitary space rock suffered a terminal breakup.

NASA/JPL-Caltech

The National Weather Service has confirmed what hundreds of eyewitnesses in Florida -- from Jacksonville to Miami, and also the Bahamas -- reported seeing Monday night. A meteor streaked across the sky as a glowing fireball and exploded, seeming to brighten the night sky for a split second.

Fireballs are sighted almost nightly somewhere around the world, but this was quite a stunner, literally, as some videos of the event show. 

In the above footage from a security camera at a Miami-area home, an eyewitness is shocked by seeing something fall from the sky, accompanied by a sound like thunder. The sound could be the result of a shock wave from the bolide breaking apart or a sonic boom as it smacked into the atmosphere at high speed.

The flash was initially tagged as lightning by the GOES-16 weather satellite, but the National Weather Service office in Tampa Bay confirmed it was a meteor.

The American Meteor Society collected over 200 eyewitness accounts, including a few dozen that reported hearing a sound as well.

Reports that this fireball was somehow related to the near-Earth asteroid 2021 GW4 that gave Earth a close pass this week are way off, just for the record. That asteroid passed above us at an altitude of over 9,000 miles, whereas this fireball and others like it typically start to burn up at the top of the atmosphere, which is closer to about 60 miles high.

There have been no reports of any meteorites making it to the ground in Florida so far.

The American Meteor Society estimates that the flaming space rock was likely traveling south to north over the Atlantic Ocean in between Florida and the Bahamas, so anything that survived is probably cooling off at the bottom of the sea.

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