Many people in western Japan reported sightings of a bright light on Monday night. Experts said it was “highly likely” a fireball meteor called a bolide. A video captured from a moving car shows a sparkling light streaking across the Japanese skies. Eyewitnesses reported the sightings to observatories in Fukuoka, Ehime and Hiroshima.
It occurred at the right time
Hidehiko Agata, an associate professor at Japan’s National Astronomical Observatory told The Japan Times that the bright object spotted by people was “highly likely” to be a fireball meteor. It was bright enough to be seen from a wide area. Agata said it was early evening and fine weather, which provided favorable conditions for people to witness it.
A fireball meteor is a piece of an asteroid that falls through our planet’s atmosphere. Due to friction, they create bright lights when they enter the atmosphere. NASA estimates that approximately 48.5 tons of meteoric materials fall onto the Earth’s surface every day. But most of those fragments end up in the sea on uninhabited regions. Late Monday, a camera at Hakata port in Japan captured a faint orange light, while a remote-controlled camera at Fukuoka airport showed an object with a bright green light.
The difference between a fireball meteor and a shooting star
According to ABC News, two other objects emitting bright lights were also spotted on the East Coast of the U.S. One was spotted in Chicago, which NASA said could be a piece of space junk. Another one flew over 11 states Monday night. The Royal Observatory astronomer Dr Edward Bloomer told The Independent that the object spotted in Japan certainly looked like what one would expect from a fireball meteor.
Bloomer said the main difference between a fireball meteor and a shooting star is that the latter is a much smaller piece of material. Therefore, a shooting star lasts only a fraction of a second. A fireball meteor lasts much longer as it has more material.