Breaking: Reports of Meteor Spotted Across Trinidad

At 10:30 PM, we received reports of a meteor shooting across Central Trinidad. Generally, the GOES-16 Lightning Mapper (GLM) would have detected the flash from the meteor’s entry, as the rock burnt upon entering the atmosphere. This was not the case for this meteor entry.

This meteor entered the atmosphere with relatively clear skies and some mid- to upper-level clouds moving across Trinidad, which were not producing thunderstorm activity. Thunderstorms were ongoing across the Paria Peninsula of Venezuela. This sort of detection is similar to the usage of the GLM instrument, when it detected flashes over Cuba in early February, when meteorites struck western parts of the island.

As the night progressed, more and more reports popped up on social media of the sighting, and there was a video confirmation of this meteor moving across T&T’s skies.

Based on social media reports, it was seen across Northern and Central Trinidad sometime between 9PM and 10 PM on Tuesday 15th October 2019

Meteor and meteorite strikes are more common than you might think. Dust-grain size meteoroids strike the Earth’s atmosphere almost constantly, but they often go unnoticed. Meteoroids between a millimeter and a centimeter burn up in the atmosphere and appear to us as shooting stars.

Larger strikes are less common—a one-meter meteoroid strikes the Earth once each year on average and would reach the ground as smaller debris, while a 100-meter meteoroid strikes the Earth approximately every 10,000 years, according to a Tufts University fact sheet. Meteoroids over 1 kilometer hitting Earth are catastrophic events that occur every 1 million years on average.

Infographic: What’s the Difference Between a Comet, Asteroid and Meteor? Credit: Universe Today
Infographic: What’s the Difference Between a Comet, Asteroid and Meteor? Credit: Universe Today

Meteoroids do not discriminate where they land, nor where they enter the earth’s atmosphere. Hence, it is well within the realm of possibility that events such as this could happen across Trinidad, Tobago or any of the other Caribbean islands.

But medium-size strikes can be dramatic spectacles—and in some cases, dangerous. The Chelyabinsk meteor that struck southern Russia in February 2013 blew out windows and caused indirect injuries to almost 1,500 people.

The Orionids Meteor Shower

This year, Orionid meteors appear from Monday, October 2, through November 7, peaking between midnight and dawn on October 21 and 22.

The scientific phenomenon gets its name from the Orion, a constellation that lies in the sky above the equator.

The meteors, associated with Halley’s Comet, occur every year in October.

When the conditions of the night are right, dozens of shooting stars can be seen falling from the sky.

Each hour about 20 meteors zoom through the skies, at speeds 148,000 mph, the Orionids are one of the most impressive events in the sky’s calendar.

It happens 60 miles up in space when the Earth moves through a cloud of thousands and thousands of space rocks which would be left behind by the famous Halley’s Comet.

How many meteors will there be?

The word “shower” suggests many meteors will fall frequently, almost resembling rain.

Despite this, the actual rate that the celestial matter falls from the sky is a lot less regular.

When can we see the most meteors?

This year, it’s predicted that the meteors will peak on Oct. 21 and 22. This peak means that you’ll be seeing these meteors at their fastest and at their most vivid, with your best chance for visibility being an hour or two before dawn on October 22nd.

While you should be able to glimpse 30 to 40 meteors darting across the sky during the shower, the overall display will be more muted than in years past, since it occurs when the moon is brightest (which is also why they recommend looking skyward after the moon has set).

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