Weather News

Was that a UFO in the early morning night skies over Florida? Well, it was from space

American Meteor Society posted a map pinpointing where “UFO” or “fireball sightings” came from in Florida from Miami to near Jacksonville around 2:16 a.m. July 3, 2019. About 23 people sent images from their cellphones of something streaking in the night skies to the organization.
American Meteor Society posted a map pinpointing where “UFO” or “fireball sightings” came from in Florida from Miami to near Jacksonville around 2:16 a.m. July 3, 2019. About 23 people sent images from their cellphones of something streaking in the night skies to the organization. American Meteor Society

Early birds in Florida got quite a scare Wednesday morning, when they saw something strange streaking across the night sky.

Some thought it was a UFO, some thought it was a fireball or a meteor shower, and still others wondered if it was weather related. Some even sent photos to the National Weather Service and other groups, like the American Meteor Society.

Which led to a strange tweet from the National Weather Service.

The National Weather Service tweeted at 5 a.m.: “We’ve been receiving reports of some objects in the sky last night around South Florida and at this time we are unsure as to exactly what they were. We want to thank all of you for sending us your photos and videos. We appreciate it!

Of course, people took their confusion to Twitter.

“My first impression [was] that it was a drone,” read one Twitter post. The object was “deliberate and silent-moving [and] looked kind of lower in the pitch black sky but with a comet tail” and was “headed in an easterly direction.” This observation was around 2:30 a.m. from the Lower Keys.

So what exactly happened?

“We’re trying to figure that out,” said meteorologist Paxton Fell at the NWS’ Miami office about the glowing visual. It was not storm related. Was not a heat flash. She referred questions to the experts at the American Meteor Society.

Even police departments received reports about UFO sightings — and some took it with a good sense of humor.

“No, we were not invaded last night by Martians but we appreciate the level of confidence you have of us to stop intergalactic invaders,” the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office tweeted.

Was everyone watching Tuesday night’s Antenna TV rerun of the Sept. 26, 1977, episode of “Maude” in which the sitcom’s title character faces comical ridicule after she sees a UFO?

Perhaps.

But it wasn’t TV’s influence, either. Or a meteor shower, as many surmised.

According to the American Meteor Society, the “object” was space debris, possibly from a Chinese satellite that was launched in 2015. The society said the CZ-3B R/B Chinese satellite’s space junk spawned 23 reports of fireball sightings from South Florida to Jacksonville.

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Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.
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