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Brilliant Green Fireball Lights Up Florida Sky

A bright green fireball east of Tallahassee, Florida sparked nearly 250 witness reports for the American Meteor Society across several states.

The large flash occurred on Saturday (March 30) at 11:52 p.m. local time, according to the society's event sighting page. It was visible in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and South Carolina, and possibly sighted as far north as Virginia.  

Some witnesses reported the fireball being visible for 20 seconds, although the majority saw it as a briefer flash of just 3.5 seconds, according to the sightings page. "The glow from the burning meteor was so bright that it created shadows for several seconds before the light flickered out," read a report from Accuweather.com

Earth is pelted with millions of tons of dust and rocks from space every year. Under some circumstances, as the debris enters the atmosphere, it creates a "shooting star" or meteor. The very brightest ones look like fireballs in the sky.  

In most cases, the space debris burns up harmlessly high up in the atmosphere; occasionally, though, a fireball will produce some fragments that reach the ground. There was no indication on the AMS website if any meteorites (fragments of space rock) were found in association with the fireball. 

Larger space rocks, asteroids and comets do occasionally hit Earth's atmosphere — one prominent example is the six-story-building-size object that slammed into Earth over Russia in 2014, causing injuries. NASA and other international agencies are on the hunt for the very largest of these cosmic intruders, and have found no imminent threats to our planet so far.

If you saw the Florida fireball, you can add your report to the AMS webpage

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Elizabeth Howell

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.