Friday Fireball

It was at 21.26h on Friday that a fireball crossed the sky , witnessed by quite a few people in the centre and south of Spain.

Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls of FireThe burning orb, a rock from a comet, suffered a couple of explosions as it made its way into the Earth’s atmosphere, heading down through the sky.

The fireball was picked up by the La Sagra and Sierra Nevada observatories in our province. It was also tracked by the radar network, Red de Bólidos y Meteoros del Suroeste de Europa (Red SWEMN) via its Complejo Astronómico de La Hita (Toledo).

The said network is coordinated by the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC) which participates in the Proyecto SMART. The said project monitors rocks impacting against the atmosphere or in some cases penetrating it.

Super boffin, José María Madiedo at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA-CSIC) explained that the ‘Jerry Lee Lewis’ entered the atmosphere travelling at 101,000 kilometres per hour after breaking off a comet.

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Obviously, travelling at a speed reminiscent of spotty adolescent on a souped-up scooter, the rock immediately began to burn up some 107 kilometres above the Earth’s surface just south of the city of Albacete. Heading west, ignoring all speed limits, it burnt out at an altitude of 59 kilometres still within the province of Albacete as it was travelling almost vertically. However, the intensity of the fireball was clearly visible from a distance of around 500 kilometres.

Editorial comment: you know, it does make you wonder about the spacecraft they are sending to hit an asteroid to change its trajectory – nothing to worry about, they say…

(News: Albacete, Castilla-La Mancha)

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