A meteor lit up Melbourne's night sky on Sunday at around 10:40 PM local time — just in time to celebrate Valentine's Day.
A video on YouTube of the striking event over the city's business district was captured by resident Fernando Braga, and has widely been circulating on social media and news platforms since.
In the video, the bright light is clearly seen getting larger and larger as it dives downwards, flashing brightly before disappearing altogether.
The Astronomical Society of Victoria (ASV) posted a confirmation on its Facebook page that it was a meteor flashing above the city's night sky. In its statement, the ASV explained that "it began near the zenith (center of the sky) and headed southward, ending with a double flash to the left of the Southern Cross."
It continued by stating it was "likely a sporadic meteor," meaning one that's a random occurrence and that doesn't belong to a meteor shower, and that it was probably no bigger "than a marble."
After entering the Earth's atmosphere, the meteor will have burnt up and disappeared — as can be seen in the video. It's possible the meteor was created in a collision of larger meteoroids and had been orbiting the solar system up until Sunday night, when its orbit intersected with Earth's, as explained by the ASV.
Meteor vs. Meteoroid vs. Meteorite
As NASA points out, meteors, meteoroids, and meteorites are all linked to the big flashes we sometimes see in the sky — also known as shooting stars. We call these same objects by different names depending on where they're located.
Meteoroids are objects in space that range in size from a small dust grain to large asteroids — what can also be called as "space rocks." When meteoroids enter Earth's atmosphere at high speed, causing them to burn up, these are then called "shooting stars" or meteors. And when a meteoroid survives the atmospheric trip and hits the ground, the object is then called a meteorite.
So what was seen across Melbourne's sky on Sunday night was a meteor, and quite a stunning one at that.
Editorial note FEB 16: Small edit of text to state "city's business district" instead of CBD.