It’s not often you look skyward in bright daylight and spot a flaming space rock passing overhead, but that’s just what happened over the US and Spain on Monday, with meteor-watching agencies receiving a spate of reports.
The first meteor was spotted over various parts of the US, at 8.40pm local time (01:40 Universal Time), while the second was filmed over Spain and the Mediterranean Sea less than two hours later.
A meteor is a fragment broken off from an asteroid or comet orbiting the sun which burns up as it encounters friction from the Earth’s atmosphere, turning into a spectacular flaming ball.
The American Meteor Society (AMS) said they received about 600 reports about the first fireball, primarily spotted over Iowa and Illinois, but was also seen by skywatchers over Minnesota, Indiana, Kansas, Nebraska, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin.
Anyone else see a meteor in the Eastern Sky about 8: 40 this evening? Unless it was a ufo landing at offut…. @MeanStreetsOMA
— TJ Martineau (@iamTJMartineau) July 9, 2018
@NASA , did any space junk fall out over Iowa? My family and I just saw a blue-white meteoroid flash in the sky. At first we thought it was a firework but never heard a boom or a whistle. #space#Meteor
— Dingus (@spacewetas1) July 9, 2018
Did anyone else see that meteor (ite? Shooting star?) burn up in the sky out east?? Holy cow. 😍
— Madison Johnson (@TheMadChattter) July 9, 2018
“The estimated 3D trajectory computed from the witness reports shows a shallow entry angle, one that could be associated with an Earth grazing fireball,” wrote Vincent Perlerin for the AMS. “But many witnesses reported a fragmentation – it could mean the meteoroid actually went through the Earth atmosphere.”
The second fireball, filmed shooting across Spain at 65,000kph, began at an altitude of around 89km (55 miles) over the province of Almería, and ended at a height of about 31km over the Mediterranean, according to Jose M. Madiedo from the International Meteor Organization.
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