Wednesday , January 27 2021

Fireballs light up two continents in one night


The fireball lights up the east coast of the United States.

AMS; video by Eric Mac / CNET

Late Tuesday in early Wednesday was a great night for flammable cosmic clashes, as many meteors broke out over some of the largest cities in the United States and Europe.

We could have a Lyrid meteor shower to thank for this show. The annual spring shooting star of the northern hemisphere officially became active on Tuesday evening and is known for producing fireballs.

A fireball was seen on the sky from Berlin to Amsterdam to Copenhagen just before midnight local time. Later, while at midnight approached the east coast of the United States, another meteor was spotted burning as it crashed into our atmosphere. That fiery ball was spotted at 10:57 am. EDT and can be viewed entirely from New England to Karolinas.

The US Meteorite Society has received dozens of reports on a European fiery ball that is estimated to have burnt over Germany and hundreds of reports of an eastern meteor in the United States that was above Delaware at the brightest moment of disintegration.

Fireballs are in fact very common that can happen thousands of times every day, but the vast majority are not very light or masked by daylight or occur over the ocean and other uninhabited areas and are not seen by human eyes. For two extremely clear fireballs for burning over the main population centers on the same night is less common.

Most fiery balls are actually much higher in the sky than they may appear, usually much more than 30 miles, causing the same fireball to have been spotted by dozens of different US states on Tuesday night.

There may be more to come this week. The lyrical meteor shower is currently being built to its peak, on Sunday night, when 10-20 shooting stars can be visible per hour, although some can be washed with almost full moon.

Sometimes there may be a burst of hyperactive meteoric activity that produces hundreds of visible traces per hour during a shower like Liri. Although no outburst is predicted for this year, there is always a chance, and this early fireball is a reason to be optimistic.

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