Comet Fragment Lights up Sky over Spain, Portugal 'Like a Movie'

FILE PHOTO: A section of the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud. REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble | October 21, 2014
FILE PHOTO: A section of the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud. REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble | October 21, 2014
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Comet Fragment Lights up Sky over Spain, Portugal 'Like a Movie'

FILE PHOTO: A section of the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud. REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble | October 21, 2014
FILE PHOTO: A section of the Tarantula Nebula, located within the Large Magellanic Cloud. REUTERS/NASA/ESA/Hubble | October 21, 2014

A bright comet fragment lit up the skies over parts of Spain and Portugal late on Saturday, according to the European Space Agency (ESA), with one Lisbon resident saying the dazzling display "felt like a movie".

On Sunday morning, the ESA shared on X a video captured by its "fireball camera" of what it described as a "stunning meteor" over the skies of the western Spanish city of Caceres, near the Portuguese border.

But it later said it appeared to be a "small piece of a comet" and not a meteor, estimating it flew over Spain and Portugal at a speed of 45 km (28 miles) per second before burning up over the Atlantic, Reuters reported.

"The likelihood of any meteorites being found is very low," the ESA said.

In both countries, videos shot in several cities and towns went viral on social media, showing the object crossing the night sky at high speed and illuminating it in bright tones of blue and green.

The Spanish Calar Alto astronomical observatory also said a preliminary analysis by Andalusia's Institute of Astrophysics revealed the object had a "cometary origin".

During a concert in the Portuguese city of Barcelos, the object was filmed streaking across the sky as the singer performed. Another video showed the skies of Porto, Portugal's second biggest city, turning bright for a few seconds.

Many contacted emergency services to report what happened. A spokesperson for the Spanish Emergency service 112, in Madrid, told Europa Press news agency it had received several calls.

Lisbon resident Bernardo Taborda, 31, told Reuters he was walking around the city with friends when the sky suddenly turned bright green: "It almost looked like daylight ... we all looked back and saw it."

"It felt like a movie, we all looked at each other and we were stunned," Taborda said. "It was amazing."

 

 

 

 

 



Rains, Cooler Weather Help Firefighters Gain Ground on Large Wildfires in Southern New Mexico

Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.  - The AP
Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. - The AP
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Rains, Cooler Weather Help Firefighters Gain Ground on Large Wildfires in Southern New Mexico

Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.  - The AP
Nationwide, wildfires have scorched more than 3,344 square miles (8,660 square kilometers) this year — a figure higher than the 10-year average, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. - The AP

Recent rains and cooler weather are helping more than 1,000 firefighters gain ground on two wildfires in southern New Mexico on Saturday that have killed two people, destroyed hundreds of homes and forced thousands to flee.

Fire crews took advantage of temperatures in the 70s, scattered showers and light winds to use bulldozers to dig protective lines while hand crews used shovels in more rugged terrain to battle the fires near the mountain village of Ruidoso, The AP reported.

The South Fork Fire, which reached 26 square miles (67 square kilometers), was 26% contained, while the Salt Fire, at 12 square miles (31 square kilometers), was 7% contained as of Saturday morning, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Full containment was not expected until July 15, per the agency.

Elsewhere in New Mexico, heavy rain and flash flood warnings prompted officials to order some mandatory evacuations Friday in the city of Las Vegas, New Mexico, and communities near Albuquerque, about 200 miles (320 kilometers) north of Ruidoso. Las Vegas set up shelters for displaced residents, and some evacuation orders remained in place there on Saturday.

Flash flood warnings were canceled Saturday, though the National Weather Service said afternoon storms could produce excessive runoff and more flooding in the area.

The wildfires have destroyed or damaged an estimated 1,400 structures. Other fallout from the fires — including downed power lines, damaged water, sewer and gas lines, flooding in burn scars — continued “to pose risks to firefighters and the public,” according to a Saturday update from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

Evacuations in areas near Ruidoso and road closures were still in effect. In Ruidoso, full-time residents will be allowed to return Monday, though everyday life won’t return to normal.

“You’re going to need to bring a week’s worth of food, you’re going to need to bring drinking water,” Mayor Lynn Crawford said on Facebook.

President Joe Biden issued a disaster declaration for parts of southern New Mexico on Thursday, freeing up funding and more resources to help with recovery efforts including temporary housing, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property and other emergency work in Lincoln County and on lands belonging to the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

Deanne Criswell, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, met with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Crawford and Mescalero Apache President Thora Walsh Padilla on Saturday. “These communities have our support for as long as it takes to recover,” Criswell posted on the social media platform X.

Much of the Southwest has been exceedingly dry and hot in recent months. Those conditions, along with strong wind, whipped the flames out of control, rapidly advancing the South Fork Fire into Ruidoso in a matter of hours. Evacuations extended to hundreds of homes, businesses, a regional medical center and the Ruidoso Downs horse track.