Exceptionally bright meteor illuminates night sky over Spain and Portugal

spain portugal fireball may 18 2024

An exceptionally bright meteor was seen over Spain and Portugal at 22:46 UTC on May 18, 2024 (00:46 local time, May 19), lighting up the night sky with a bright blue glow for several seconds and leaving a persistent trail in its wake.

Initial reports indicated that pieces of the meteor fell in the town of Pinheiro and near the town of Castro Daire, approximately 40 km (24 miles) south-southeast of Pinheiro. Both locations are in northern Portugal.

While these reports are plausible, based on the fireball’s trajectory and its angle of entry into the atmosphere, it is likely that most, if not all, pieces ended up in the Atlantic Ocean.

The meteor was described as unreal, massive, and a once-in-a-lifetime event.

“That’s crazy! Mad props to the person that was able to get this footage,” one eyewitness wrote on X.

The fireball first became bright at an altitude of 122 km (75.8 miles), 40 km (24.9 miles) west of Mérida in Spain’s Badajoz province, according to analysis from a team at the Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory.

caha-es spain protugal fireball trajectory 18052024
Image credit: Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory (CAHA)

It then traveled northwest, passing over the southern parts of Porto, Portugal, before continuing over the Atlantic Ocean and disappearing at an altitude of 54 km (33.6 miles) — about 70 km (43.5 miles) off the coast.

The high speed of the asteroid, combined with its extended visibility period, made it observable over more than 450 km (280 miles).

While small meteors enter Earth’s atmosphere every day, objects as large as this one are seen and recorded over populated areas only once or twice per year.

The International Meteor Organization (IMO) received 108 reports by 08:00 UTC on May 20.

People who witnessed the event are invited to share their observations with them using this form.

spain portugal heatmap and trajectory may 18 2024
Image credit: IMO


1 Fireball event 2481-2024 – IMO – May 18, 2024


Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *