Sounded Like Hekla Erupting or Hoofbeat on Asphalt

A meteor, seen in the sky above Iceland in 2017.

A meteor, seen in the sky above Iceland in 2017. Photo/Twitter

Vala Hafstað

When they heard the rumble, some witnesses thought an earthquake was imminent or an explosion occurring. One woman states that the birds around her went silent for at least half a minute. Another one heard an explosion and felt some trembling afterwards. Yet another thought it was thunder. Others feared Hekla volcano had erupted. Some described the noise as that of a collision of cars. To others, it sounded like hoofbeat on asphalt. Those who looked toward the sky saw a bright light, low in the sky.

A likely explanation of the loud rumble, reported by people in many parts of Southwest and South Iceland Friday night, between 10 and 11 pm, is believed to be a meteor, mbl.is reports.

According to solarsystem.nasa.gov, “Meteoroids are objects in space that range in size from dust grains to small asteroids. Think of them as ‘space rocks.’

When meteoroids enter Earth’s atmosphere (or that of another planet, like Mars) at high speed and burn up, the fireballs or ‘shooting stars’ are called meteors.”

Sævar Helgi Bragason.

Sævar Helgi Bragason.

Mbl.is contacted Sævar Helgi Bragason, astronomy enthusiast, to ask him about the phenomenon.

“Meteors are space rocks that explode in the atmosphere at an altitude of a few dozen kilometers,” Sævar explains. “Descriptions received yesterday from people regarding when the fireball was seen and when the rumble was heard suggest that it exploded at an altitude of 20 km or so, maybe less. But that is just a rough estimate.”

“Another description from a witness, mentioning that a small shock wave was felt, suggests that this meteor had a diameter of a few meters, but that’s a very rough estimate based on descriptions I’ve heard,” Sævar states.

Meteors don’t always create such loud rumble, he adds. Most commonly, he explains, shooting stars occur at an altitude of 80 to 100 km, and those are the size of a grain of sand. Larger shooting stars can vary in size from a small pebble or straberry to a tennis ball. Friday’s meteor must have been at least a meter in diameter, he adds.

Weather

Light drizzle

Today

8 °C

Overcast

Tomorrow

8 °C

Cloudy

Saturday

10 °C