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Green meteor thrills North Queensland communities

University of Southern Queensland expert talks on rare event

A spectacular fireball lit up the North Queensland sky on Saturday night, stunning residents as it fell to Earth around 9.22pm (AEST).

Residents from Mackay up to Cairns, and inland as far as Mt Isa, in the North caught footage of the green fireball, which entered the atmosphere at a speed well in excess of 50,000km/hr.

University of Southern Queensland Astrophysicist Jonti Horner was on hand to speak about the sighting.

“This object came into our atmosphere at an incredibly high speed, which cause it to shine bright in the night sky as it blazed a fiery trail over northern Queensland,” Professor Horner said.

“When it reached a depth of about 20 or 30 km above the ground, it detonated, which is the spectacular bright flash you can see in the videos.

“At that point, the fireball was hundreds of times brighter than the full Moon – and the explosion created a shockwave that shook houses in the town of Croydon and the surrounding area.

“That will leave fragments, some of which we are confident will have made it to the ground and will likely be spread across a strewn field.

“In Australia, there are likely around 15 to 20 events like this each year peppering our continent with meteorite falls – however most are likely not as big as this one.”

Professor Jonti Horner is one of a team of internationally recognised astronomers and planetary researchers based at the University of Southern Queensland’s Centre of Astrophysics.

The University also operates the Mount Kent Observatory, the state’s only professional astronomical research facility. Alongside other cutting-edge apparatus, the site houses the MINERVA-Australis telescope array, which is used to support world-class research projects such as NASA’s TESS mission.

Astrophysicist.
Green meteor thrills North Queensland communities