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Texas night sky lit up by brilliant fireball: Was it a meteor or something else?

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Texas residents have reported seeing an object some described as a bright green light streaming across the sky around 8:45 p.m. on Saturday.

A driver in San Antonio, who captured the video of the bright object streaking through the sky on Saturday between 8:43 and 8:44 p.m. and later uploaded the clip on YouTube, said that the object was very bright and slightly green in color albeit he was not sure what it was.

It turned out that the object was a very bright meteor scientists call a fireball. The American Meteor Society said that a fireball is a meteor that is generally brighter than Venus.

"A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus as seen in the morning or evening sky," the organization said on its website.

Bill Cooke, from NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office, estimated the meteor to weigh about 4,000 pounds, measure at least four feet wide and is brighter than a full moon by five times.

"This event was so bright that it was picked up on a NASA meteor camera in the mountains of New Mexico over 500 miles away, which makes it extremely unusual," Cooke said. "This was a very bright event."

The American Meteor Society received more than 200 reports about the fireball but this does not mean that fireballs are rare. Most of them occur over uninhabited areas or oceans. They can also be masked by daylight and one particular reason why the fireball that appeared over the skies of San Antonio, Texas on Saturday got much attention has something to do with the timing.

Cooke said that there were many people outside at around 8:40 PM when the event took place. There would have been fewer reports about it if the fireball occurred in the wee hours of the morning.

Scientists are still conducting investigations but Cooke said that the fireball could have originated from the North Taurid meteor shower, which is ongoing and is associated with producing fireballs. The meteor may also possibly be part of a rock that hailed from the main asteroid belt between planets Jupiter and Mars.

There were reports of ground shaking after the meteor was seen, which the National Weather Service in San Antonio attributed to meteor landing. However, it still remains unclear if the meteor has landed, and if it did, where it has touched down.

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