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“I’m in an assisted living facility,” said Mr Gowan, “and attached to it is a six-storey penthouse tower with a 360-degree view that I have access to.
“I often go up for sunrises and sunsets, and I was there around 7am, just looking at the sunrise, when I happened to turn and look to the south and there was this big old fireball.
“I was very excited. I said ‘my gosh, I have never seen something like that.’”
Howard, from Holly Hill in Florida, was mystified – and so was the internet.
“I have a friend from the UK, Patrick Rooney, and he picked it up and said something about how it was a meteor,” said Mr Gowan.
“I looked at Facebook again that afternoon and people were in a big discussion about there being an unknown meteor shower.”
Some even suggested that there was an alien explanation.
Mr Gowan continued: “I had no idea what it was, except it looked awful big and I did determine that it was moving away from me.
“When it got so low, it looked like it exploded, but I think it just went behind some clouds.”
Reviewing the clip, NASA determined that – however bizarre the object looked – there was nothing to fear.
“It’s a jet contrail, illuminated by the rising sun,” said an official. “The two tails are a dead giveaway.”
Mr Gowan said: “I tend pretty much to believe that, except it just looked so big and I had never seen anything like that before, but NASA are pretty sharp.”
He added: “I feel so good that it did stir all this excitement – and it was exciting, because it’s something you don’t normally see and I was the lucky one who got to share it.”