Fact Check: Video Of 'Green Coloured Meteor' In Budapest In July 2024 Is NOT Authentic

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: Video Of 'Green Coloured Meteor' In Budapest In July 2024 Is NOT Authentic Manipulated

Does a video on social media capture a meteor over Budapest, Hungary, in July 2024? No, that's not true: The original video was taken during mass protests in the Hungarian capital on February 16, 2024 and other videos from the event do not show any meteor. People's outfits were much more consistent with winter weather than with midsummer temperatures in Budapest, and no credible organization reported a meteor sighting there in February or July of 2024.

The claim appeared in a post (archived here) on Threads on June 7, 2024, under the title:

What was that? 😱☝️

The caption continued:

UPDATE - Huge green coloured meteor seen overnight in Budapest, Hungary

This is how the post appeared on Threads at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-07-11 at 9.49.40 AM.png

(Source: Threads screenshot taken on Thu Jul 11 13:49:40 2024 UTC)

Some posts -- for example, a Russian-language account on YouTube (archived here) on July 7, 2024, mimicking the design of a news program on a government-funded TV channel -- tied the purported event to a particular date. As translated by DeepL, it read:

Bright meteor passing over Budapest on the night of July 6-7 #news #recommendations

On both days, the temperature in this city was 88 degrees Fahrenheit (archived here) during the daytime and over 60 degrees at night, which is roughly 31 degrees and above 17 degrees Celsius respectively.

A closer look at the video shows that it was taken in cold weather: Many people in the crowd are seen wearing winter clothes and winter hats.

Screenshot 2024-07-11 at 11.16.17 AM.png

(Source: Threads screenshot taken on Thu Jul 11 13:49:40 2024 UTC)

A reverse image search revealed that a similar video was widely shared across social media platforms on February 16, 2024: For example, here, here, here and here.

But it did not show any meteors.

One of the posts (archived here) specifically named the location:

Screenshot 2024-07-11 at 11.29.49 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Thu Jul 11 15:29:49 2024 UTC)

A street view available on Google Maps (archived here) showing the same monuments proved that the footage was taken at that spot.

News reports published by credible outlets -- for example, here (archived here) and here (archived here) -- further confirmed that on that day, February 16, 2024, Budapest saw a mass rally, but not a meteor.

According to the NASA definition (archived here), meteoroids -- rocks in space -- become meteors when they "enter Earth's atmosphere (or that of another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up." This phenomenon is also known as "shooting stars" or "fireballs."

The global database of reported meteor sightings (archived here) maintained by the International Meteor Organization (archived here), which is comprised of meteor enthusiasts and on the NASA website (archived here) list of relevant resources, did not contain any mentions of such a phenomenon observed in Hungary in July 2024.

Chris Peterson (archived here) who replied to a Lead Stories email on July 11, 2024, on behalf of the meteor organization, said the following about the viral video examined in this fact check:

It is absolutely not a meteor. Meteors move in straight lines with their trail straight behind. They don't move like a swimming fish, which is what this video shows.

He added:

It casts no shadows as it moves (and a meteor this bright would).

Online AI-detection tools did not produce conclusive results in this case, though one suggested that the "meteor" could have been created by generative AI.

An alternative explanation is that the "meteor" is likely an example of computer-generated imagery (CGI) frequently used in the movie-production industry. An example is when a foreign object such as a meteor is added to a fiction scene filmed with real-life cameras in the staged setting as seen in this video explaining one technology behind it.

In the past, Lead Stories debunked numerous claims based on CGI videos. Some examples can be found here, here, here, here and here.

The version that the video of the "meteor" was created by merging authentic footage with CGI is supported by the behavior of the crowd. For example, during the very first seconds, when the "meteor" appears in the sky, we see a group of people walking out of the frame without demonstrating any reaction to the "fireball." Others don't appear to follow the "meteor," with their phones mostly pointed in the direction of the stage.

The claim about the "meteor" in Budapest was previously reviewed by PolitiFact.

Other Lead Stories fact checks concerning events in Europe are here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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