An unusually large and bright “shooting star” surprised many across Iceland last night.
Many observers were unsure what they had seen, reaching out to Sævar Helgi Bragason, chairman of the Astronomical Society of Seltjarnarnes, for an explanation of the phenomenon. “It may be a ‘fireball,’ an unusually bright meteor, brighter than the planet Venus,” he responded.
The Stjörnufræðivefurinn Facebook page, which aims to promote interest in astronomy, has since provided more information about the meteor. It was spotted around 10:48 pm last night from the Reykjavík capital region, the West Fjords, North and South Iceland. According to the page, it likely entered the atmosphere at a speed of 20 km per second (12.4 miles per second), near the lower limit of velocity for meteors, and broke apart at a height of 20-30 km (12.4-18.6 miles). The page estimates the meteor was likely smaller than a tennis ball.
Stjörnufræðivefurinn added: “This is far from the most beautiful meteor which has been seen from Iceland, but most likely the one with the largest number of witnesses. It’s fantastic to think how many have begun to turn their eyes to the sky.”
Watch a video of the meteor here.