July 30, 2021

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Small asteroid turned night into day near northwestern Puerto Rico


Photo: SAC

MAYAGÜEZ – A very bright meteor was visible from all over the Island at around 3:44 am on Saturday, reported the Caribbean Astronomy Society (SAC).

“It was a space rock probably several feet in diameter disintegrating through the atmosphere,” Eddie Irizarry, vice president of the SAC, said in a written statement, noting that the meteor left a remarkable smoke trail, which gradually dissipated. over the course of half an hour.

“At first it looked blue-green, and then a little orange, which suggests that the composition of the space rock was possibly magnesium and sodium,” Irizarry said.

Watch a video of the asteroid captured by the SAC

The SAC detailed that the huge fireball was visible in a westward direction, but it had a trajectory that suggests that it was moving over the Mona channel towards Desecheo, that is, towards the North.

“Its brightness or intensity of light was of such magnitude that the images captured by one of our cameras looking at the sky to the opposite side (East), show that the meteor illuminated the entire sky for a few moments, and turned the night today ”, highlighted the educational entity.

Irizarry indicated that after analyzing the area of ​​the sky where the meteor appeared, it is not ruled out that it is a Taurid meteor. “There are several details that suggest it is part of the Taurids, and although they are supposed to be caused by particles from Comet 2P / Encke, in recent years something of great interest to scientists has been discovered,” he added.

He noted that in recent years, several extremely bright Taurid meteors have been detected, and studies suggest that some have been caused by space rocks between 3 and 30 feet (almost 1 to 9 meters) in diameter. The findings indicate that the debris zone from these particular meteors appears to contain not only cometary particles, but also some rather large rocks.

In fact, to the surprise of scientists, a pair of rocks between 656 and 984 feet (200 to 300 meters) in diameter were detected in that area, such as the asteroids called 2005 UR and 2015 TX24.

Although these asteroids do not have a trajectory with risk of impact to our planet, what these studies suggest is that the area that produces the Taurids could have some rocks that sometimes cause the sighting of a fairly bright meteor, such as the one observed from the Island in the early hours of Saturday.

“Fortunately our atmosphere disintegrates much of these, so this is just another interesting aspect of nature, and as long as no really large rock with dangerous trajectory is detected, it should not be a cause for concern. On the contrary, it is another reason to appreciate the sky ”, concluded the educational entity.



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