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Meteor fireball over Spain (April 11)

© Shutterstock/Triff
The fireball in this video was recorded over Spain on April 11, at 23:07 local time (equivalent to 21:07 universal time). The bolide was observed by casual eyewitnesses, who reported it on social networks.

The event was generated by a rock (a meteoroid) from a comet that hit the atmosphere at about 179,000 km/h. The fireball overflew the provinces of Teruel and Cuenca (Spain). It began at an altitude of about 120 km over the locality of Los Olmos de Manzanera (province of Teruel), moved southwest, and ended at a height of around 84 km over Fuentelespino de Haro (province of Cuenca).

This bright meteor was recorded in the framework of the SMART project, operated by the Southwestern Europe Meteor Network (SWEMN) from the meteor-observing stations located at Ayora (Valencia), La Hita (Toledo), Calar Alto, La Sagra (Granada), Sevilla, Olocau (Valencia), Faro de Cullera (Valencia), and Sant Celoni. The event has been analyzed by the team headed by Dr. Jose M. Madiedo (principal investigator of the SMART project), from the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC).

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Meteor fireball streaks across the sky of 8 Brazilian cities on April 10


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Meteor fireball over the Netherlands and nearby countries on April 10

© Arthur J.
We received 463 reports about a fireball seen over Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Baden-Württemberg, Brussels, Bruxelles, Drenthe, Flevoland, Gelderland, Groningen, Hauts-de-France, Hessen, Limburg, Niedersachsen, Noord-Brabant, Noord-Holland, Nordrhein-Westfalen, North Holland, North Rhine-Westphalia, Overijssel and Région Wallon on Wednesday, April 10th 2024 around 19:57 UT.

For this event, we received 3 videos and 10 photos.

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Meteor fireball over New Jersey and nearby states on April 10

© Mark K.
We received 34 reports about a fireball seen over Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, NJ and Pennsylvania on Wednesday, April 10th 2024 around 07:44 UT.

For this event, we received 7 videos and one photo.


Airbursts: An underappreciated hazard

A paper published in March of 2021 in the journal Science Advances reports on the discovery of evidence for a large airburst type impact within the SØr Rondane Mountains, Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica. The report bears the names of a 15-member international team that did the research. The lead author was M. Van Ginneken with the Belgian Geological Survey. In the first sentence of the abstract to the article the authors support something I have been saying for literally decades: "Large airbursts, the most frequent hazardous impact events, are estimated to occur orders of magnitude more frequently than crater-forming impacts."

This fact is confirmed simply because airbursts don't leave impact craters. In this case the fingerprints of the event took the form of condensation spherules resulting from "a touchdown event, in which a projectile vapor jet interacts with the Antarctic ice sheet." The authors go on to explain that "Finding evidence of these low-altitude meteoritic events thus remains critical to understanding the impact history of Earth and estimating hazardous effects of asteroid impacts." They further report that "In recent years, meteoritic ablation debris resulting from airburst events have been found in three different locations of Antarctica. The material . . . all appears to have been produced during a Tunguska-like airburst event 480 thousand years (ka) ago."

With respect to their research, they say: "Here, we present the discovery of extraterrestrial particles formed during a significantly larger event recovered on . . . Queen Maud Land, East Antarctica. The characteristic features of the recovered particles attest to an unusual type of touchdown event, intermediate between an airburst and a crater-forming impact, during which the high-velocity vapor jet produced by the total disruption of an asteroid reached the Antarctic ice sheet." This event was estimated by the team to have occurred about 430 thousand years ago.

The authors provide some critical perspective on the effects of these type of impacts:

"The impact hazards resulting form the atmospheric entry of an asteroid that are currently being addressed by impact mitigation programs depend mainly on whether the impactor reaches the ground or is entirely disrupted in the atmosphere (i.e., airburst). For small-to medium-sized impactors (50- to 150-m diameter) producing airbursts, the main hazard is limited to blast effects resulting in strong overpressures over areas of up to 100,000 km2 wide. [38,600 sq miles] Thermal radiation may also result in fires over an area of 10 to 1000 km2 wide. . . . in addition to shockwaves and thermal radiation covering the aforementioned areas, these events are potentially destructive over a large area, corresponding to the area of interaction between the hot jet and the ground. The authors point out that such an event over Antarctica would inject ice crystals and impact dust into the upper atmosphere but would not directly affect human activity. However, they explain that "if a touchdown impact event takes place above a densely populated area, this would result in millions of casualties and severe damages over distances of up to hundreds of kilometers."

Now comes a new report in Earth and Planetary Science Letters on the discovery of evidence for yet another airburst event over Antarctica. The 11-member team responsible for the report is comprised of geologists, astrophysicists, and archaeologists from the U.S., the United Kingdom, Belgium, Russia, Japan, France and Italy.

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Meteor fireball over New Mexico and Nevada on April 2

© Jay S.
We received 11 reports about a fireball seen over NM and TX on Tuesday, April 2nd 2024 around 08:33 UT.

For this event, we received 4 videos and one photo.

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The 'Devil Comet' is now a naked eye object

Suddenly, amateur astronomers are seeing a naked-eye comet in the evening sky. It's Comet 12P/Pons-Brooks, also known as the 'devil comet'. Waiting for next Monday's solar eclipse in Mexico, Petr Horálek photographed the comet last night and found it much brighter than the last time he saw it:

Devil Comet
© Petr Horálek/Institute of Physics in OpavaTaken by Petr Horálek/Institute of Physics in Opava on April 4, 2024 @ Veľká Lomnica, Slovakia; Monterrey, Mexico
"I assume an outburst is in progress," says Horálek. "My estimate of the comet's magnitude is +3.5. Definitely worth taking a look in the next hours and days."

Indeed, now is a good time to look. After sunset, the comet emerges in the western sky not far from the planet Jupiter. Naked-eye observers will see a dim fuzzball. Cameras and small telescopes reveal the comet's magnificent tail.


Meteor fireball over the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium on April 2

© Shutterstock/Triff
We received 69 reports about a fireball seen over Berlin, Brandenburg, Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, Limburg, Niedersachsen, Noord-Holland, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Overijssel, Sachsen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Thüringen, Utrecht, Vlaams Gewest, Zeeland and Zuid-Holland on Tuesday, April 2nd 2024 around 03:34 UT.

For this event, we received 2 videos.

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Meteor fireball over New Zealand on March 29

© Laurie P.
We received 17 reports about a fireball seen over Bay of Plenty, Manawatū-Whanganui, Marlborough, Taranaki, Waikato and Wellington on Friday, March 29th 2024 around 05:42 UT.

For this event, we received one video and one photo.

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Meteor fireball over Connecticut and 2 nearby states on March 25

© Mark Kirschner
We received 8 reports about a fireball seen over CT, NH and RI on Monday, March 25th 2024 around 00:26 UT.

For this event, we received one video and one photo.