5 January 2004
MADRID – Thousands of people spotted “balls of fire” – thought to be a huge meteorite falling into the Earth’s atmosphere – across north-central Spain, it was reported Monday.
The fireballs appeared to plummet down on a shallow trajectory running across the Iberian peninsula from the country’s northwestern Atlantic shores to its eastern Mediterranean coast.
The Guardia Civil police reported that a piece of what was thought to be the meteorite hit near the border between the provinces of Leon and Palencia, in north-central Spain on Sunday night.
Hundreds of kilometers from there, in Castellon, firefighters were mobilized in response to the warning of a falling fiery object, but no injuries or property damage were reported in connection with the incident.
Emergency personnel in the regions of Galicia, Castilla-Leon, Madrid, Aragon and Valencia were inundated with calls reporting sightings of the fireballs.
They were even spotted by fans attending a soccer game in San Lazaro Stadium in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia in the northwest.
The sighting held symbolic significance since it occurred on the eve of the Twelfth Night celebration of the Epiphany and at various points along the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, like Palencia, Leon and Compostela itself, known as the “field of stars,” where St. James’ remains are believed to have appeared 1,200 years ago.
The director of the Astronomical Observatory of Santiago de Compostela, Jose Angel Docobo, who spotted the fireball during a soccer match between Compostela and San Sebastian de los Reyes, described the meteorite as a “bolide” possibly weighing between 50 and 100 tonnes.
Docobo told EFE that at 5:47 p.m. local time (1647 GMT) a ball of light was sighted coming down at about about a 30-degree angle over the horizon, and this was followed by an explosion to the east that occurred rather close to the ground.
Most meteors are bits of space dust and small pebbles weighing just a few grams that burn up in the atmosphere before they hit the ground. When a piece of a meteor makes it all the way to earth, it is called a meteorite.
Meteorites can be rocky or metallic. The composition of this meteorite was not yet known.
[Copyright EFE with Expatica]
Subject: Spanish news