A ‘meteorite’ has crossed the skies of Spain and Portugal tonight, illuminating it so much that it seemed like daytime

If you like astronomy and live on the peninsula, these are good times for you. Because if a few days ago we saw the northern lights stamping the skies of southern Europe at latitudes that are out of the ordinary, in the last few hours it has been a ball of fire that has illuminated the night, turning it into days for a few seconds. There are those who say having seen a meteorite and has left evidence of this on social networks.

What has been seen crossing the skies of the peninsula tonight

During the early morning from Saturday, May 18 to Sunday, May 19 Numerous people have reported seeing a meteorite flying through the skies in different locations in the state, including a colleague from Webedia in Galicia, as you can see below:

In the graphic material uploaded to Twitter/X you can see how a celestial object illuminates the sky, crossing it at high speed:

Tap to go to Twitter/X post

The previous video allows us to see its intensity in a completely clear sky, when taken on a road far from the urban center. After midnight, the cameras in the center of Seville record their passage quite clearly despite the light pollution:

Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 9 56 36
Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 9 56 36

Tap to go to the X/Twitter post

Nor do the streetlights and other lights in Murcia prevent the fireball from being seen in the sky:

Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 9 52 54
Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 9 52 54

Tap to go to the X/Twitter post

From end to end of the peninsula, this video was recorded at night in the urban center of Braga (Portugal):

Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 9 55 08
Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 9 55 08

Tap to go to Twitter/X post

Meteorite or bolide? Although the lack of knowledge of the terminology on the one hand and the popularity of the former have meant that the word chosen to designate that fireball has been, overwhelmingly, ‘meteorite’, there are differences between the two. When a meteoroid heats up and comes into contact with the atmosphere, they heat up and generate a luminous phenomenon, called a meteor or shooting star. If its luminosity is greater than -4, then we are dealing with a bolide. Finally, only if that body reaches the Earth’s surface will it be called a meteorite.

Having clarified this point and in the absence of an official statement from specialized authorities, some experts in the field such as José María Madiedo, PhD in astrophysics and member of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics of the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia-CSIC, have given some explanations in their X/Twitter profile about this ball of fire that has illuminated our skies tonight.

Thus, it details that it comes from a rock from a comet that entered the atmosphere at 161 thousand km/h crossing the peninsula at 0:46 local time tracing a trajectory that began at an altitude of 122 km above Don Benito (Badajoz). From there it moved northwest and crossed Portugal, ending 54 km above the Atlantic Ocean.

Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 10 16 06
Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 10 16 06

Tap to go to the X/Twitter post

If we were able to glimpse it from places much further away from that trajectory it was due to its great luminosity, ‘which was much greater than that of the full Moon, could be seen from more than 800 km away.’

Although that is the trajectory at the level micro For the peninsula, Madiedo has also published what was the orbit followed by the rock before colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere, generating the fireball:

Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 10 18 11
Screenshot 2024 05 19 At 10 18 11

Tap to go to the X/Twitter post

In the different videos published on networks and the stories of those who saw the fireball, some versions suggest having seen two flashes. The astrophysicist explains the reason: ‘Throughout its trajectory, the fireball showed several explosions that caused sudden increases in its luminosity and were due to various sudden ruptures of the rock.‘.

In fact, Madiedo details that the rock has been falling apart’All those fragments completely disintegrated in the atmosphereAs a consequence, none of them would have fallen into the sea. These statements by the astrophysicist therefore confirm that we would be dealing with a car, thus contradicting information published in some X/Twitter profiles (but not on the service’s website) which indicates that the Portuguese Civil Defense would have confirmed that the remains of the rock They would have fallen in the province of Castro Daire, in the central region of the Portuguese country. We will update when we have official information on the facts.

Cover | Photo by Kai Pilger

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