What's This Fireball Seen Over Bangkok? It Flared Up As It Fell To Earth

On Monday, a number of people in Bangkok, Thailand were treated to a bizarre, startling sight — a fireball streaking through the sky, which briefly burst into a flaring explosion as it headed towards the ground. The mysterious phenomenon was captured by several passersby on dashcam video, giving a few angles of the impressive sight. But it's not enough just to see something like this — curiosity abounds, as always. So, what's with the fireball seen over Bangkok?

There are a number of possibilities that spring to mind when you watch the footage. The most troubling thought, no doubt, is that an aircraft of some sort could have suffered a fiery crash, a dreadful possibility that feels more real thanks to a couple years chock-full of harrowing, high-profile aviation incidents. But thankfully, there's no evidence to support this direst of conclusions.

To the contrary, the most plausible explanation so far seems to be a celestial one — the rapidly descending fireball could have been a meteor streaking to Earth, according to Saran Poshyachinda, the deputy director of the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand, who spoke to CNN on Monday.

There is a high possibility that the object spotted this morning... on social media, is an object from outer space. ... It looks like an asteroid traveling to Earth and grazing through the air and it turned into a fireball.
Porjai Jaturongkhakun on YouTube

Here's a couple more angles on the fireball's eye-catching descent. Thanks to the direction of its fall, Poshyachinda told CNN he thought it was probably an asteroid, potentially weighing a pretty small amount — he estimated a "few kilograms."

Mesapong Poojeenapun on YouTube

Hopefully, we'll get some official confirmation of what exactly it was, however, since this isn't the only explanation being offered — CNN also spoke to observatory officials who theorized it might have been a burning balloon, or some other, unspecified falling space junk. In particular, as detailed by the Bangkok Post, data from satview.org suggests it could've been a falling piece of debris.

Fortunately, there's no reason so far to think it posed any real danger to human life — as an official with the Bangkok Planetarium told TIME, most asteroids are completely burnt up by the time they touch down. And there have been no reports indicating anybody being injured or killed by, well, whatever precisely it was, which is very good news. As it stands now, it's simply a dramatic, breathtaking sight, one which likely won't be forgotten by those who witnessed it.

Image: Porjai Jaturongkhakun/YouTube