The space agency told ABC Action News in Tampa that the streak was actually a fragment of an asteroid that broke up over the Gulf of Mexico.
“Yeah, that’s sort of a typical fireball,” said astronomer Dr. Craig Joseph of the St. Petersburg College Observatory after being shown footage captured by civilians and shared to the internet.
NASA determined that the fireball eventually made a water landing somewhere off the west coast of Naples and estimated that it was approximately 10 inches wide, which Dr. Joseph says is significantly larger than a typical grain-sized falling star.
The American Meteor Society, a nonprofit dedicated to observing and collecting data about meteroic phenomena, also received over 55 reports from residents all over the state of Florida who spotted the asteroid lighting up the evening sky.
The non-profit compiled a map of where the witnesses were located and also created an estimated 3D trajectory of where the space rock was when it was visible.
The map shows people as far north as Jacksonville and as far west as West Palm Beach filed reports, so basically the entire peninsula could have seen it if they were looking in the right direction at the right time.
Thousands of meteors fall into the Earth’s atmosphere every day. Most go unnoticed, which is why when they are spotted, it feels like such a big deal.
Let’s hope that some people always have the cameras rolling just in case the day comes when that common meteor sighting turns out to be something more.