A Bright Comet Fragment Was Captured Flying Through the Sky Over Spain and Portugal

It looks like a scene from a movie!

Lauren Wellbank - Author

May 20 2024, Published 12:54 p.m. ET

Folks looking towards the sky in Spain and Portugal were treated to quite a sight late May 18, 2024, when a bright comet fragment zoomed overhead. The incredible moment was caught on video thanks to quick-thinking spectators and security cameras alike, allowing people from around the world to witness the majestic sight.

Article continues below advertisement

Even the European Space Agency (ESA) got in on the fun, sharing footage captured by their "fireball camera" with followers on X, formerly known as Twitter. Continue reading to learn more about the comet fragment spotted over Portugal and Spain, including where experts think the fireball ultimately ended up.

Article continues below advertisement

In May 2024, a comet fragment soared above Spain and Portugal.

In multiple videos capturing the event, cars can be seen slowing down to look at the fragment, likely out of both awe and concern over what could've been behind the bright streak of green and blue light. People in Cáceres, Spain, and some Portuguese cities that border Spain may have had the best views of the event, which spectators told Reuters was nearly bright enough to make it feel like daytime.

Space.com says that the fireball was likely traveling at speeds of 100,000 miles per hour when it passed by, which they said is 65 times the rate of speed at which a Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jet can travel. The website explained that the chemical makeup was likely made from magnesium, which is the chemical composition that causes that green and blue glow.

Article continues below advertisement

Where did the meteor hit in Portugal?

According to the ESA's official X page, experts later determined that what viewers witnessed wasn't a meteor or an asteroid, but in fact a fragment of a comet.

Thankfully for the safety of the citizens watching this rare event, the ESA reports it's unlikely that anything made landfall during the comet's passing. The organization says the most likely course would've had whatever remained of the comet particles burning up somewhere over the Atlantic Ocean

Article continues below advertisement

Even knowing how unlikely it is that anything survived the entry into Earth's atmosphere, there's a pretty good chance curious fragment hunters will still try to follow the comet's path in the hopes that something tangible will remain from this event.

Article continues below advertisement

What is the difference between a meteor and a comet?

These videos may have some wondering what the difference is between a meteor and a comet, two terms used to describe the event.

According to NASA, a meteoroid is a pebble-sized piece of a comet or asteroid that has come off due to a collision. Once these pebbles enter the earth's atmosphere, they are called meteors. Thanks to their high rate of speed, they often produce a bright trail of light behind them, which is what many people see when they witness shooting stars.

So, a meteor is a small piece of comet that has broken loose from the icy rock and entered the earth's atmosphere. But, no matter what you call these giant (and not so giant) space rocks, it's clear that watching them make such a close pass overhead is truly an amazing sight and one that people all around the world are getting a chance to take part in thanks to the viral videos from May's event.

More from Green Lovers

Latest News News and Updates

    © Copyright 2024 Green Lovers. Green Lovers is a registered trademark. All Rights Reserved. People may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website. Offers may be subject to change without notice.