Sunday, February 3, 2019

Meteor Explodes over Western Cuba

The daylight meteor seen in Cuba on February 1 left a long smoke trail. Image via Hatzel Vela

Several meteorites have been found in western Cuba after a huge meteor was seen by many – in broad daylight – on Friday, February 1, 2019. People in southern Florida also saw the meteor, as this space rock traveled over West Palm Beach, above the Florida Keys, and then to Viñales, a town in Pinar del Río, Cuba.

The event occurred at around 1:16 – 1:17 p.m. EST on Friday, February 1, 2019. Residents of Viñales, Cuba saw a very long smoke trail that lasted more than one minute, while the meteor itself was described as extremely bright, with amyellow-orange color, and lasted more than at least four seconds.

Several Cuban residents reported finding black rocks showing the characteristic fusion crust seen in ordinary chondrite meteorites.

Explosions were also heard and a smoke trail seen in Havana. There were no reports of damage or injuries.

"We were coming from the center ... and we saw a ball of fire cross the sky," said Spanish tourist Jesus Nicolas, 34, in Havana. "Sure it was a meteorite and a very big one."

Amid speculation on social media, state media in Cuba denied that a plane had crashed and called it a "natural, physical phenomenon."

Later Friday, a statement from Cuba's Ministry of Science and the Environment read on a nightly newscast confirmed that it was a meteorite strike.

Astronomers estimate that the space rock that disintegrated over Cuba was at least a few meters in diameter – likely, van-sized – before entering Earth’s atmosphere. That’s a lot smaller than the house-sized asteroid that entered Earth’s atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, Russia – also in February- in 2013. The shock wave from the Chelyabinsk event broke windows in six Russian cities and sent some 1,500 people to seek medical treatment, mostly from flying glass.

No comments:

Post a Comment