A spectacular sight streaked across the night skies on Tuesday, just after 7.19 pm, as a meteor burnt up in the atmosphere. The meteor was seen as far south as Venezuela, across Trinidad and Tobago, and as far north as Antigua and Barbuda.
According to GOES-16 Geostationary Lightning Data, which can detect the brightness of the burning meteor in the atmosphere as lightning based on its sensors, the meteor burnt directly over northern Grenada.
As it burnt in the atmosphere, the meteor created a green or teal glow and left a bright orange trail. The colours of the glow and trail indicate the dominant chemical composition of meteors, with green suggesting a high magnesium content. In contrast, the orange trail shows a high sodium content.
What a meteor is made out of is one of many factors that determine the colour that it appears. The speed at which the meteor enters the Earth’s atmosphere can also affect its colour. The faster a meteor moves, the more intense the colour may appear, according to the American Meteorological Society (AMS). The AMS also added that slow meteors are red or orange among fainter objects, while fast meteors frequently have a blue colour.
Meteors generally begin to burn as they hit the Earth’s atmosphere, resulting in bright light emanating between 65 and 120 kilometres above the Earth’s surface. Meteors also dive into the atmosphere at speeds ranging from 40,200 to 257,500 kilometres per hour.
While there were no reports of any space rocks hitting the ground in Grenada on Tuesday night, which would then be called meteorites, meteors frequently burn up worldwide, including in the Caribbean region. Colloquially called shooting stars, these meteor re-entries peak during meteor showers where the Earth passes through debris from comets, leading to these pieces of space rock or dust burning in the Earth’s atmosphere.
The Taurid Meteor shower is underway, which began on September 10 and runs through November 20.
It is predicted to peak on November 13.