The night sky over Cyprus exploded into a firestorm of lights and bangs early Friday, startling the island’s residents. The culprit: a suspected meteorite, Reuters reports.
Ioannis Fakas, honorary chairman of the Cyprus astronomical society, described the event, saying “a 45 degree tilt and a bang was heard as it passed over Cyprus.” Police officers reported that people in the mountains of the Troodos range said green-white glows appeared in the sky at about one in the morning, followed by a series of large blasts. Others said the glow was blue, while more said that they felt the ground shake.
Fakas told national news company Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation that parts of the meteorite had fallen into the sea north of Cyprus, and that they would not have weighed more than a few kilos. The meteorite was small in size and disintegrated as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere.
There are some arguments as to whether or not the celestial object was indeed a meteorite, but most experts agree that whatever it was could not have hit the ground. Fakas said the meteorite – if it was one – would definitely have exploded before crashing.
According to NASA, at least 30 meteorites come into contact with the Earth’s surface every year, but majority of them land in the ocean or fragment before people notice them.
In 2013, a meteor also exploded over Chelyabinsk in Russia, damaging structures and injuring more than a thousand people.
Meteors are massive rocks that fall through the Earth’s atmosphere and start burning as it does, leaving a trail of light. Meteors that don’t disintegrate completely, allowing pieces of rock to land on the ground, are called meteorites.
Meteorites are valuable in providing insights on outer space, giving scientists information on the galaxy’s, and in a broader scope the universe’s, origins and compositions. Since meteorites are one of a celestial body that don’t undergo any chemical processes, the materials they contain can be up to billions of years old.