A meteor streaks across the night sky.
A meteor streaks across the night sky. Reuters

A fiery object streaking across the night sky and caught on camera has caused a flurry of excitement among UFO spotters.

Eye witnesses reported an object "as bright as the sun that fragmented into many parts" as well as "sonic effects associated with the meteor".

Witnesses also described seeing a flaming green ball as bright as the sun shoot across the sky before fragmenting and disappearing.

"The colours were the most brilliant I have ever seen," wrote one person who watched the fireball.

A local official said footage of the possible meteor was taken by a camera at North Liberty's public works facility.

According to the City of North Liberty's website, on Friday "Assistant Streets Superintendent Dan Lange discovered that a security camera at the public works facility on S. Front Street captured the falling object."

Theories over the exact nature of the fireball have triggered rumours that it could be a UFO, but a more likely explanation is that it is a chunk of rock or ice – or possibly space junk.

"When you see something, these flashing lights in the sky, we call these meteors," said Steven Spangler, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Iowa.

"I think most of those are actual natural objects ... but we've been launching stuff up into space for 56 years now and some of that comes down in the form of space junk."

The American Meteor Society said it received more than 700 reports of a fireball over the border of Iowa and Minnesota.

The American Meteor Society (AMS) says it has received over 600 reports of meteor sightings in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska – as well as West Virginia – making this sighting the fifth most reported fireball in the history of the AMS online reporting system.

Though meteors like this aren't particularly rare, one as visible as this in a highly populated area is. In this sighting, eye witnesses had the opportunity to catch the rare event, and even better for science, so did modern technology. The video recording will be studied intensively by scientists.

"We can't see every direction every minute of the day and night," Joe Wright, operations Director at the University of Missouri-Kansas City's Warkoczewski Public Observatory and vice president of the Astrological Society of Kansas City told Kansas City station KCTV, "So this totally caught us off guard."

Watch the fireball caught on camera in America's Midwest: