In spite of the endless rains that have soaked Andalucia this month, a meteor as bright as a full moon was spotted streaking through the rain clouds before ending its journey in a shower of sparks on Friday night. 

The meteor was detected by the SMART project, a network of detectors that is part of the South West Europe Meteor and Meteorite Network, entering the stratosphere and passing above the mouth of the Strait of Gibraltar on the Atlantic side.

 By the time it met its end, the meteor had travelled about 64 kilometres through the Earth’s atmosphere. 

The network, which is coordinated by the Andalusian Astrophysics Institute, aims to study interplanetary material that impacts the Earth.

Jose María Madiedo of the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics confirmed that the meteor entered the Earth’s atmosphere at a speed of around 107,000 kilometres per hour. 

“These rocks which pass through the orbit of our planet are known as meteoroids,” he said. 

Screenshot 2022 12 13 At 18.33.28
The bolide was spotted over Spain on December 9, at 21:32 local time. It was almost as bright as the full moon. The fireball was observed by a wide number of casual eyewitnesses, who reported it on social networks. Credit: Jm Madiedo

When the rock hit the atmosphere, it heated up to several thousand degrees Celsius and became incandescent, giving it the appearance of a fireball. 

The meteor began its journey at an altitude of 99 kilometres above the Atlantic Ocean, and ended with a violent explosion, which Madiedo said was due to the rock breaking up. 

The fireball was recorded by the SMART project detectors in Seville, Huelva, and La Sagra.

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