Fireballs seem intense when you are standing on Earth, but the perspective from above could not be more different. Video footage taken from the International Space Station of a fireball that screeched through the sky on a recent night shows that everything is relative: Even though a super bright meteor can break windows down on the ground and do lots of other damage, when viewed from the heavens these fiery rocks look like tiny specks.

Astronaut Paolo Nespoli from the European Space Agency was aboard the ISS when he spotted the fireball on Nov. 5, and the images that were just released. According to Nespoli, the bright object was moving about 25 miles per second.

The footage also included lots of lightning, another atmospheric phenomenon that seems like a much bigger deal from down below.

Compared to lightning, clouds, land formations and the sunrise, the meteor is hard to notice, but it is in the upper right corner of the frame about 7 seconds into the video. It moves quickly down toward Earth and then disappears.

According to the ESA, the fireball blasted through the atmosphere over South Africa’s west coast, and the entire video shows a journey from the southern Atlantic Ocean, where that coast is situated, to Kazakhstan, several thousand miles away. The experts can identify the object despite its tiny size because of its position, shape and brightness.

“The object was below the airglow,” Detlef Koschny, who studies near-Earth objects for the ESA, said in the agency’s blog post on the fireball. “One can see the fireball illuminating the clouds from above, so it must have been close to them — and close to the Earth’s limb. It also seems to show a little tail. It’s brighter than all the stars seen in the background; only at the very end of the video before sunrise do we see something of similar brightness — I guess Venus.”

He estimated that the object was about 4 inches long.

“It might be a re-entering piece of space debris,” Koschny said, referring to things like used rocket stages and decommissioned satellites and fragments from those that have broken off. That “space junk” is common in low-Earth orbit and could fall into Earth’s atmosphere and burn up. “But from looking at the entry angle (using the reflection on the clouds as reference) it’s coming in at too steep an angle. … “We call bright meteors (brighter than Venus), a fireball. I guess this would qualify as a fireball.”

fireball-iss-adjusted A light-adjusted screen capture from a video of a fireball taken on the International Space Station shows the bright meteor. Photo: ESA

Another ESA near-Earth object expert, Rüdiger Jehn, said the 25 miles per second that the fireball was moving is fast for a meteor, because they are usually moving at half that speed.

It was not the only recent fireball to blaze through the atmosphere. Security footage from a police station in Chandler, Arizona, shows a bright light getting larger and larger on Tuesday night before bursting bright enough to illuminate the clouds and turn the sky behind it blue for a moment.

NASA keeps a database of fireballs but they only include the ones that have been picked up by U.S. government censors since 1988 — the South Africa fireball and the one in Arizona are not listed.

It does include a fireball that flashed over China in early October during an autumn festival as people were looking up at the full moon. That fireball was moving 9 miles per second and had an explosive energy equal to 540 tons of TNT.

The biggest fireball ever recorded on that database was the one that streaked above Chelyabinsk, Russia, in 2013. That fireball, whose shockwave damaged buildings and injured people with breaking glass, carried 440 kilotons of impact energy — equal to an explosion of 440,000 tons of dynamite.