fireball
© East Coast National Scenic Area Administration
Dozens of spectacular videos surfaced on social media Wednesday (July 7) after a meteor blasted through the atmosphere over Taiwan.

Shortly after 12:02 a.m. on Wednesday, the Lulin Observatory, located at the summit of Lulin Mountain in Nantou County's Xinyi Township, recorded a meteor erupting into a ball of fire as it burst through the atmosphere. Within a span of 50 seconds, the meteor could be seen streaking across the sky as it ignited into a series of explosions.

It flashed four times during its descent, with each ignition causing the fireball to grow bigger and brighter. After the fourth explosion, the extraterrestrial orb went dark and disappeared below the horizon.

Soon, residents of Taipei as well as Yilan, Hualien, and Taitung counties posted videos of the unusual atmospheric phenomenon. Some people reported hearing a sonic boom following each flash of light.





Jim Lee (李瑾), a research fellow at the Taipei Astronomical Museum, was cited by ETtoday as saying that most meteors that hit the atmosphere are mainly composed of dust and quickly burn up upon reaching the atmosphere. However, what was witnessed last night was a bolide, the largest and brightest fireball meteor.

Bolides burn brighter because of their greater size and speed compared to typical shooting stars. Lee said bolides are very rare in Taiwan, and the fact that people reported hearing sonic booms indicates that it was at a very low altitude.

The last explosion lighting up the sky like the sun.
© Final East Coast National Scenic Area Administration
The last explosion lighting up the sky like the sun.