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Grace Abels
By Grace Abels July 9, 2024

Space rocks, but the meteor in this video in Hungary is fake

If Your Time is short

  • Details in the video signal it was originally taken in Hero’s Square in Budapest, Hungary, during a Feb. 16 protest. 

  • There are no news reports of a fireball or meteor appearing in the sky during these protests or in July 7’s early morning hours. 

  • Meteor experts pointed to signs that the meteor in the video is fake: it does not move in a straight line, is too slow and does not light up the surrounding sky. 

Shooting stars are magical. Giant fireballs in the sky — not so much. But was one recently spotted in Budapest, Hungary? 

"UPDATE – Huge green coloured meteor seen overnight in Budapest, Hungary," read a July 7 Threads post that uses the British spelling of color and includes a video that appears to show a huge meteor crossing the sky over a large, cheering crowd of people.  

But the meteor in this video is fake. 

(Screenshot of Threads post)

The Threads post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Threads, Facebook and Instagram.)

To confirm, we had to follow some clues. Based on buildings and monuments visible in the video, the footage appears to have been taken in Hero’s Square in Budapest, Hungary.

The two illuminated buildings with columns, the pavement pattern and center monument all match what’s visible on Google Street View.

(Source: Google Maps and screenshots of Threads video)

The large crowds in the video, and a stage in the distance visible near the video’s conclusion, show the video was likely taken during a Feb. 16 protest, not in July as the post claims. 

The protest followed the controversial pardon of a man convicted in a child sex abuse case and the subsequent resignation of President Katalin Novák. Several online influencers organized the protests, The Associated Press reported. News coverage of the protests do not mention a meteor passing overhead. 

Featured Fact-check

Several images and videos that were taken during the protests and shared on social media match the setting of the viral Threads video. 

The American Meteor Society, a nonprofit organization of amateur astronomers that tracks global fireball and meteor sightings, has received reports of 13 fireballs in Hungary so far this year, but none in February when the original video was likely taken, and none so far in July as the post claims. Two witnesses reported the most recent sighting near Budapest the evening of June 29.

Robert Lunsford, the American Meteor Society’s fireball report manager, described to PolitiFact other signs that this video is fake.

"This object does not move in a straight line," Lunsford wrote to PolitiFact in an email, "plus it would have lit the entire area like daylight if it was real. The sky surrounding the fireball would have also been lit to a much lighter shade of blue, not pitch black."

Also, Paul Chodas, director of the NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies, told PolitiFact that a typical fireball would be moving much quicker and would have "luminous debris coming off the object." 

NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies contact form directs people to report fireball sightings to the American Meteor Society.

When people commenting on the video said they thought the meteor might be fake, the Threads user sharing the video claimed to have a "another view" of the meteor in a different post. But that video is fake, too, Mike Hankey, the American Meteor Society’s operations director, said.

"They have taken a real meteor that was recorded by one of our cams recently in Portugal," Hankey wrote in an email, and "copied and pasted the meteor out and into this water scene. They added wave sounds."

Lunsford wrote, "Most fireballs appear like very bright stars lasting only a few seconds. Fireballs exceeding the moon in brightness are exceedingly rare, occurring only a few times per decade for any one location."

We rate the claim that this video shows a "huge green coloured meteor" July 7 in Budapest False. 

Our Sources

Email interview with Robert Lunsford, Fireball Report Manager at the American Meteor Society, July, 8, 2024 

Email interview with Paul Chodas, Director of the Center for Near Earth Object Studies, July 8, 2024

Email interview with Mike Hankey, Operations Manager for the American Meteor Society, July 8, 2024

Threads post (archived), July 7, 2024 

The Associated Press Photos, "Hungary Protest," Feb. 16, 2024

Facebook Post, Feb. 16, 2024

The Associated Press Photos, "Hungary Protest," Feb. 16, 2024

The Associated Press Photos, "Social-issue/Hungary," Feb. 16, 2024

X post, Feb. 16, 2024

TikTok, Feb. 16, 2024

TikTok, Feb. 17, 2024

Reuters, "Tens of thousands rally against Hungary's Orban after sex abuse pardon scandal," Feb. 16, 2024

The Associated Press, "Online influencers lead thousands demanding change in Hungary following president's resignation," Feb. 16, 2024

DW, "Hungary rocked by protest over child sex abuse pardon case," Feb. 17, 2024American Meteor Society, "About AMS," accessed July 8, 2024

American Meteor Society, "Robert Lunsford," accessed July 8, 2024

American Meteor Society, "Fireball Logs," accessed July 8, 2024

American Meteor Society, "Fireball Log - Hungary - 2024," accessed July 8, 2024

NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, "Contact CNEOS," accessed July 8, 2024

Google Maps, "Hero’s Square Street View," accessed July 8, 2024

The Associated Press, "Protesters demand Hungarian president's resignation over a pardon in a child sexual abuse case," Feb. 9, 2024

The Associated Press, "Hungary President resigns over child abuse case pardon," Feb. 10. 2024

European Space Agency, "Stunning meteor captured by ESA's fireball camera in Cáceres, Spain," May, 20, 2024

Threads post, (archived), July 7, 2024

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Space rocks, but the meteor in this video in Hungary is fake

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