Asteroid Flares Out in Spectacular Light Show Over Northern Europe

Observers in northern Europe got quite a treat early Monday morning as a one-meter asteroid blasted into Earth’s atmosphere before burning up somewhere above the English Channel.

Asteroids of this size hitting the earth are fairly common. What’s unusual about this particular space rock, dubbed Sar2667, is that observers on Earth received advanced warning of its arrival.

GINOP KHK observatory in Hungary was the first to spot the incoming asteroid, according to AccuWeather. Other observatories swiftly confirmed the sighting, and the International Meteor Organization released detailed information about when Sar2667 would appear in the night sky.

A few hours later, amateur and professional stargazers alike were pointing cameras and phones toward the heavens. The results are pretty spectacular.

Consider this video by Twitter user @KadeFlowers.

Or this photograph by @dlxinorbit.

Or my personal favorite, a snapshot by @GijsDeReijke, shooting “close to home in the south of the Netherlands.”

A regular occurrence

The ESA estimates that humankind has discovered only about .1% of all the 30m-and-under asteroids in our solar system. Ten-meter asteroids hit the earth about once every ten years, while one-meter asteroids collide with our delicate blue marble roughly once every two weeks. Luckily for us, asteroids of that size almost always burn up in our atmosphere before touching down.

For context, the Tunguska Event, which leveled 80 million trees over 2,150 square kilometers, is believed to be the result of a 30-40m asteroid entering the atmosphere above Siberia.

Because space is so big and (most) asteroids are so relatively small, tracking and predicting asteroid strikes is notoriously difficult. Spotting Sar2667 is big news because it’s only the seventh time scientists have accurately predicted an asteroid strike.

“[This is] a sign of the rapid advances in global detection capabilities,” the European Space Agency tweeted Monday morning.

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew’s essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals.
You can find more of his work at, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).