Possible explanation for Honolulu "fireball"

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Following several reports from viewers that said they had seen a "bright fireball" streak across the morning sky, Hawaii News Now has learned what the unusual sight may have been.

That "bright fireball" could have been the International Space Station, according to astronomer Ry Gal at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

According to Gal, the Space Station orbited near Earth much closer than it typical does, and therefore appeared brighter in the sky than the planet Venus, which is typically visible with the naked eye.

The Space Station was seen shooting across the sky for about two to three minutes shortly after 5:30 a.m. Monday. The Space Station traveled from the northeast to the southwest about 35 degrees from the horizon.

Soon afterward, Hawaii News Now's facebook page received comments from residents wondering what they had seen, most of which referred to the sight as a "big white fireball."

Next week, it will be a different story.  On Feb. 15, an asteroid will come very close to Earth, but there is no chance that the 150-foot wide space rock will come into contact with the planet, NASA says.  Experts say the flyby will be the closest ever known in advance for a rock of such magnitude.

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