A fireball streaked over Florida on the evening of Dec. 5, lighting up the night sky before disappearing behind the clouds.
While some people immediately thought that the fireball was a UFO, NASA has tried to dispel such rumors by explaining exactly what the fireball was.
Florida Fireball: UFO, Or Something Else?
Florida residents saw a fireball travel through the sky before it exploded behind clouds, with the phenomenon caught on video through mobile phones, security cameras, and dash cameras.
NASA received over 60 reports of the phenomenon, and has tried to quell the theories that it was a UFO that signals the start of an alien invasion. It was a bolide, the space agency claims, which is a ball of rock that explodes into flames as it enters the Earth's atmosphere.
According to scientists, the blazing object was most likely a tiny asteroid that is about the size of a bowling ball. They believe that the fireball was a piece of a bigger asteroid that broke into pieces over the Gulf of Mexico.
Analyzing the fireball's trajectory, scientists believe that any pieces that survived the friction with Earth's atmosphere landed in the ocean, about 45 miles off the Florida coast.
The American Meteor Society, a nonprofit group that observes and collects data on meteoric events, received more than 55 reports about the Florida fireball. In a map that it compiled, the group found that the fireball was seen by people as far north in Jacksonville and as far west in West Palm Beach.
Fireballs In The Sky: Not As Rare As You Think
People don't get to see fireballs lighting up the night sky often, but it actually happens more frequently than most would think. About 500,000 fireballs pass through the Earth per year, but many go unnoticed because some are too small and some appear during the day.
Just last month, a fireball was caught on video blazing a trail over Phoenix. As with the Florida fireball, many residents were able to capture the phenomenon on video, and similarly resulted in theories of a UFO when it was also nothing more than a bolide.
There was even another Florida fireball just about a year ago. It was not a UFO, but rather a bolide.
What is uncommon to see in the night sky, however, was a glowing ball that appeared over Siberia. It was not a bolide, and also certainly not a UFO, but rather a phenomenon resulting from a ballistic missile launch.