Spectacular meteor lights up the skies over Portugal and Spain 

Scientists estimate the meteor traveled at more than 100,000 miles per hour before burning up high above the Atlantic Ocean.
By | Published: May 20, 2024

A meteor brought a streak of bright green light followed by a fireball’s flash, dazzling people in Spain and Portugal with an unexpected light show about 15 minutes before midnight local time on Saturday.

The meteor — thought to be a small piece of a comet — was chronicled with multiple posts on social media (see some below).

According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the object burned up over the Atlantic Ocean at height of about 60 kilometers or 37 miles.

José María Madiedo, a scientist with the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics, used data collected by the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain to calculate the meteor’s speed. Madiedo estimated that the meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere at more than 100,000 miles per hour (161,000 km/h).

Here’s more of what it looked like:

The bright green flash is thought to be from the nickel in the metallic meteor burning in Earth’s atmosphere. The bright flash might have been intensified by its velocity, as a fireball’s color can intensify based on its kinetic energy, per the American Meteor Society

As beautiful and amazing as it was, this kind of event is not unusual. You can read more here in Alison Klesman’s Do meteor showers create meteorites?, where she breaks down how meteors can happen anytime, generally about two to seven per hour on any given night. Meteorites, by the way, are different than meteors and are any piece of a space rock that “survives its dramatic fall to the ground.”