Late Monday night, Floridians were taken aback by something that wasn't a bird or a plane.
Even Superman wasn't there.
Around 10 p.m. Monday, a meteor
shot across the sky.
Residents from West Palm Beach south to Miami shared videos of the unusual sight on social media
Dashcam footage and security footage showed a still, dark night being suddenly lit up by what appeared to be a large fireball streaking diagonally across the sky, and then it was gone in a matter of seconds.
An asteroid is a small, rocky object that orbits the sun, and a meteor is what happens when a meteoroid — a small piece of an asteroid or comet — burns up when it enters Earth's atmosphere, creating a streak of light in the sky.
There is some debate on the internet about whether the Monday night visitor was the asteroid 2021 GW4, which was expected to pass close to Earth's surface Monday evening.
According to https://earthsky.org,
the 2021 GW4 is expected to fly between 12,000 and 16,00 miles from Earth's surface, traveling at 18,706 miles per hour relative to Earth.
According to Zach Covey, a meteorologist for a local CBS affiliate in Florida
, if the meteor seen Monday was indeed 2021 GW4, it likely flew much closer to Earth's surface than was originally expected, with the asteroid coming within 9,300 miles of the Earth's surface.
"To put this in context, most close approach asteroids are 1 to 3 million miles from Earth," he tweeted.
Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Center for Astrophysics, stated on his personal Twitter
account that the Florida phenomenon had nothing to do with GW4.
The National Weather Service's Geostationary Lightning Mapper captured the bright meteor as it burned off the coast of Florida before continuing into space