A bright flash of light illuminated the east coast of Florida on Feb. 4, prompting one observer to call 911, the sheriff’s office said.

A bright flash of light illuminated the east coast of Florida on Feb. 4, prompting one observer to call 911, the sheriff’s office said. ()

(Tribune News Service) — When a flash of light crossed the night sky off the east coast of Florida, one person called for help.

A 911 caller reported what they believed to be a distress flare coming from the sea on Feb. 4, the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office told McClatchy News in an email.

Concerned there was a boater who needed help, two crews with the U.S. Coast Guard began searching the area but found nothing, WOFL reported.

The flash wasn’t a flare at all, and was actually something millions of years in the making — a meteor.

More than a dozen people reported seeing the “fireball” to the American Meteor Society, a group that maintains a database of sightings from outer space.

Others posted videos on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The reports came from up and down the Florida coast, according to the AMS database, ranging from Fernandina Beach to off the coast of the Bahamas.

“It was super bright and disappeared behind storm clouds off the coast of Florida, maybe 5 degrees above the horizon,” the observer from Fernandina Beach wrote.

“We were on a cruise ship, standing on our balcony, when we saw the object heading straight down to the horizon,” another observer said.

A Flagler Beach resident reported the sighting and shared a video taken from their front door with the AMS.

“Very bright tail (at) start then had a green appearance towards the end,” an observer from Daytona Beach wrote.

The American Meteor Society classified the falling celestial matter as a fireball, or a “very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky,” according to its website.

Thousands of fireballs occur every day, the AMS said, but they occur over the ocean or are masked by daylight, and those that happen at night are often so quick that very few people see them.

Fireballs that can be seen at night occur once every 20 hours of meteor observation, AMS said.

“A lot of these are anecdotal; a lot of these are testimonials, you know. Like, ‘Hey, I saw a fireball!’ But do you have any proof? No. So having a camera out there further proves that these things are happening a lot of the time,” Seminole State College planetarium director Derek Demeter told WOFL.

©2024 The Charlotte Observer.


Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now