Hundreds of stunned Aussies have captured the incredible moment when a bright ball of fire lit up the night sky.
A mysterious light flashed across the sky over Melbourne shortly after midnight on Tuesday.
The light spectacle was spotted as far as Mount Buller, Ballarat, Bendigo and even across the border in Adelaide.
There was much speculation as to whether it was a meteor shower or ‘space debris’.
Dozens of Melburnians also claimed they felt the ground shake and feared they were being rocked by another earthquake.
Others rushed outside with their phones to capture the glowing object illuminating the dark sky.
A fierce fireball lit up the Melbourne night sky (pictured) early Tuesday morning, sending social media crashing
Ricardo filmed the spectacular light show for two minutes from Cowes Jetty on Phillip Island, 143 km from Melbourne.
‘I was a little scared there! Seagulls went crazy too! A few minutes later a series of very loud bangs!’ he captioned the images.
A Melbourne woman added: ‘I just witnessed a meteor shower over Melbourne! Incredible scenes.’
Another TikTok user shared an image of the fireball from Melbourne’s CBD.
The extraordinary moment divided the internet over what had just happened.
“We’re pretty sure we just had another aftershock in Melbourne #earthquake,” Steve Forbes wrote.
“There was 100 per cent earthquake in Melbourne about 3 minutes ago,” another person said.
Others claimed to have seen a “possible” meteor.
A man filmed the incredible play of light from Cowes Jetty on Phillip Island
“Did anyone in Victoria/Melbourne just see a shooting star/comet/space debris over the south!?” Shannon asked.
Another stargazer added: ‘Eyewitnesses are now reporting on the radio that there was a loud explosion in the sky over Melbourne just after midnight. Possible meteor or space debris.’
Dr. RMIT University science expert Gail Isles said it was possible it could be a meteor with the next Perseid meteor shower currently active and expected to peak this weekend.
She thought it was most likely a piece of rocket from a navigation satellite launched from Russia’s Plesetsk space base.
“It’s come back somewhere between the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere and then it started to look quite big from Melbourne to our eyes,” Dr. Isles to 3AW host Neil Mitchell.
“We’ve seen it as this big blazing fireball.”
The bright fireball was seen as far as Bendigo, Ballarat and even Adelaide
Astronomer Professor Alan Duffy of the University of Swinburne agreed that it most likely burned space debris.
“What we’re seeing is a big flash of light sticking out and burning up. You can see in the videos it’s really, really special,” Prof Duffy told 3AW.
“You can see it breaking up — all of that tells me it’s space junk, it’s not a small piece of naturally occurring rock in space.”
“The fact that you can see something so bright for so long, that it’s falling apart and even the bits that fall apart burn up brightly themselves – all of that means it’s something really big, probably a few tons.”
Professor Duffie praised the display as the “greatest light show” he had ever seen.
“What we see is a big flash of light that burns for 30 to 40 seconds,” he said.
Shortly after midnight, residents took to Twitter to say they’d felt the Earth move — while others posted photos of something glowing in the night sky.
Explained: the difference between an asteroid, meteorite and other space rocks
A asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the Main Belt.
a comet is a rock covered with ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.
a meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns.
This debris itself is known as a meteoroid. Most are so small that they evaporate into the atmosphere.
If one of these meteoroids reaches Earth, it will become one meteorite.
Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally originate from asteroids and comets.
For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris in the atmosphere burns up and forms a meteor shower.