Bright fireball lights up the skies over Spain and Portugal on May 18 night

ESA’s AllSky7 camera in Caceres, Spain, spotted the stunning fireball on Saturday night, May 18, 2024
ESA’s AllSky7 camera in Caceres, Spain, spotted the stunning fireball on Saturday night, May 18, 2024. (Image credit: ESA/PDO/AMS82 – AllSky7)

An exceedingly bright fireball lights up the skies over Spain and Portugal on Saturday, May 18, 2024, at 22:46 UTC.

Tiny space rocks are called meteoroids. When these space rocks enter the earth’s atmosphere and burn up, they are called meteors. When these pieces of meteors do not completely burn up during their atmospheric entry and hit the ground, they are called meteorites.

Differences among meteoroids, meteors, and meteorites
Differences among meteoroids, meteors, and meteorites. (Image credit: NPS)

When a meteor is exceedingly bright (brighter than magnitude -4.0), it is called a fireball. 

This fireball was widely observed and filmed, as many people were out in Spain and Portugal on Saturday night.

According to the estimation of the European Space Agency (ESA), the fireball was traveling at a speed of 45 km/s over Spain and Portugal before burning up over the Atlantic Ocean at an altitude of 60 km.

As it burned over the Atlantic, the probability of finding any meteorites on land is very low.

ESA also states that this fireball was likely a small piece of a comet. However, the name of this comet or the size of this fireball is still unknown.

It is also unknown whether the fireball was part of any known meteor shower or a sporadic meteor.

However, the blueish-green color of this fireball indicates that the space rock is rich in magnesium. Please remember that the color of a meteor depends on its chemical composition.

ChemicalColor of meteor
SodiumOrange-yellow
IronYellow
MagnesiumBlue-green
CalciumViolet 
Atmospheric nitrogen and oxygenRed

A few videos that spread across the internet

Related article: A new asteroid 2024 BX1 hits Earth’s atmosphere above Germany on January 21 

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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