Immense Fireball Flying Over Siberian City Captured in Spectacular Footage

A giant fireball briefly lit up the sky above a city in Siberia on Tuesday evening.

The meteor flew over Krasnoyarsk—a city of more than one million people located in the south-central portion of the vast Russian region—and was captured on CCTV and dash cam footage that has been posted to social media.

The fireball was seen around 8 p.m. local time, geographer and amateur meteorologist Kirill Bakanov reported on Twitter.

Videos show a very bright light momentarily streaking across the sky before fizzling out in what appears to be a small explosion occurring some distance above the ground.

Fireball over Krasnoyarsk, Russia
Screenshots taken from CCTV and dashcam footage captured in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, on the evening of January 31, 2023, showed a huge fireball traveling toward Earth. "Fireball" is a term used to refer to a particularly bright meteor. ЧП Красноярск

"Fireball" is a term used to refer to a particularly bright meteor. Generally, they are brighter than magnitude -4, which is around the same as the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky, according to the American Meteor Society (AMS). Fireballs that explode in a bright, flash, above the ground are also referred to as bolides.

Meteors, colloquially known as shooting stars, are the streaks of light that we see in the sky when pieces of space debris—namely, asteroids or meteoroids (very small asteroids)—enter the Earth's atmosphere at high speed and burn up in the process.

Most meteors are roughly similar in size to very small pebbles and already bright enough that they can be seen over large distances. Meteors that are larger—the size of a softball, for example—can be so bright that the light they produce is briefly equivalent to the full moon in the night sky.

Fireballs are brighter than the average meteor because the pieces of space debris that cause them are larger.

The American Meteor Society estimates that several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur every day in the Earth's atmosphere. But the vast majority of these go unseen because they occur over oceans and uninhabited regions, or are masked by daylight.

Many fireballs that occur at night—when they are easier to spot in theory—have a lower chance of being seen than those in the day because fewer people tend to be out at these times to notice them.

Meteoroids can enter the atmosphere at very high speeds, ranging from roughly 25,000 miles per hour to 160,000 miles per hour. But they rapidly decelerate as they barrel further into the increasingly dense layers of the atmosphere, being vaporized in the process if they are below a certain mass.

Those that are large enough may survive their passage through the atmosphere and strike the ground, in which case they are referred to as meteorites.

Russia is no stranger to notable events caused by space debris falling to Earth, perhaps not surprisingly given the size of the country. In 2013, a superbolide blew up over Chelyabinsk, in Russia's southern Ural region, an event caused by a 66-foot wide asteroid entering the Earth's atmosphere at speeds of around 43,000 miles per hour, whose light briefly outshone the sun.

The explosion was estimated to be as powerful as the blast created by 400-500 hundred thousand tons of TNT, causing damage on the ground in the region and also leading to several hundred injuries.

And on June 30, 1908, a huge explosion occurred in the skies above the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in a remote region of Siberia—what was the largest impact event in recorded history.

The explosion released hundreds of times more energy than the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima while flattening more than 80 million trees across some 500,000 acres of forest and killing hundreds of reindeer, according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

But while the "Tunguska event" as it has come to be known has been classified as an impact event, to date, no impact crater has been identified even though the damage on the ground had a clear epicenter. It is thought to have been caused by an asteroid or other object exploding above the ground.