Portugal fireball captured on satellite and video

Map of Portugal and Spain with colored dashes moving across the upper left peninsula into the ocean.
ESA’s Meteosat Third Generation Imager weather satellite, which usually spots lightning from space, saw the May 18, 2024, fireball for 6 seconds as it streaked across Portugal into the Atlantic Ocean. See videos of the Portugal fireball below. Image via ESA/ EUMETSAT.

Fireball spotted from above and below

On May 18, 2024, a brilliant fireball lit up the skies over Portugal and Spain. At 22:46 UTC, locals noticed the sky turn bright with a distinct bluish hue as the fireball coasted overhead. Experts with ESA said on Sunday it was most likely a comet fragment. Many people captured videos of the event and shared them on social media. And yesterday (May 22), ESA said a weather satellite meant to track lightning captured the signature of the fireball as it headed toward its end in the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition, a camera with ESA’s AllSky7 network also caught the fireball. This camera is part of the Planetary Defence Office. ESA said they estimated the object was about 3 feet (1 meter) in size and between 1,100 and 2,200 pounds (550 and 1,000 kg).

The International Meteor Organization said:

The high speed of the asteroid combined with its long-lasting period made it visible on more than 280 miles (450 km).

Portugal fireball on social media

Animals saw it, too

And to be sure, it wasn’t just people who witnessed the event. For example, watch these ducks in a farmyard in Portugal notice the bright flash above. Perhaps they were thinking: “Our ancestors warned us about this!”

Bottom line: The Portugal fireball that brightened skies on May 18, 2024, was captured from the ground on video and from satellites in space. The fireball was most likely a comet fragment.


May 23, 2024

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Kelly Kizer Whitt

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