Tag: airplane

Peruvian "meteor" freaks out media

By Phil Plait | September 1, 2011 7:00 am

A few days ago, the web was abuzz with something that looked like a very large meteor burning up over Peru. Here’s video from ITN news:

You can find similar videos on Youtube. However, is it actually a meteor?

Cutting to the chase, I don’t think so. I don’t have a lot of solid evidence either way, but all signs point that way. Here are my thoughts:

1) Meteors tend to move more quickly. They usually burn up around 100 km (60 miles) up, roughly, and are moving at a minimum of 11 km/sec (7 miles/sec) — Earth’s gravity pulls them in to at least this speed. If you’ve ever seen a meteor you know they zip across the sky in at most a few seconds.

2) The two trains (the technical term for what most people would call the tail or trail) are very odd — you can see them in the frame grab here. I’ve never seen a meteoroid (the actual solid bit moving through our atmosphere) produce more than one train. I don’t think this is an optical effect due to the camera but actually two distinct trains.

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MORE ABOUT: airplane, fireball, meteor, Peru

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