Bright flash in the night sky over Japan lights up police hotlines and the internet

Kyodo

A bright fireball lit up the night sky Tuesday over eastern and western Japan, according to multiple witnesses.

Saitama Prefectural Police received several phone calls on their emergency hotline from people who saw a “blue light in the sky” around 9:30 p.m. in places such as the city of Kawagoe, north of Tokyo in Saitama Prefecture.

Hitoshi Yamaoka, an associate professor of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, said the fireball likely was a small object several centimeters in diameter that burned up as it entered the atmosphere.

Ordinary meteors are produced by sand-size debris from asteroids and comets burning up as they enter the atmosphere. Exceptionally large ones are called fireballs, many of which are big enough to hit the ground before burning up.

The brief mysterious light also triggered reaction online, with some people uploading photos and video of the meteor.

“A meteor fell,” one wrote. Another said, “What looked like a shooting star glowed very brightly before it disappeared.”

A 22-year-old man who filmed the object while driving through the Saitama town of Namegawa said, “I saw a very bright light, which at the end disappeared in a flash.” He added, “I did not hear a sound. I thought what I was witnessing was something rare.”

Another driver in the city of Shimada, Shizuoka Prefecture, recalled seeing what looked like lightning, noting the sky appeared to light up twice.