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Bright object seen over Arctic turns out to be part of Leonids meteor shower — scientists

November 17, 17:16 UTC+3 MURMANSK

The bright object that was seen over in the Murmansk Region, inside the Arctic Circle, was a bolide from the Leonids meteor shower, scientists say

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© EPA-EFE/Pedro Puente Hoyos

MURMANSK, November 17. /TASS/. The bright object that was seen over the city of Monchegorsk, the Murmansk Region, inside the Arctic Circle, last night was a bolide from the Leonids meteor shower visually stretching towards the Earth from the Leo Constellation. As the chief of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ regional astronomy and geodesy branch, Viktor Troshenkov, has told TASS the Leonids peaks at this time of year.

"The shower will be most active on November 18. The object seen over Monchegorsk last night was possibly not the sole one, but the others, if there were any, could not be observed due to thick clouds over other areas. The bolide most likely burned up in the atmosphere without reaching the Earth’s surface," Troshenkov said.

He remarked that it was not the strongest meteor shower ever. The Leonids reach the maximum once in 33 years. Last time it happened in 1998. Amateur astronomers in the Arctic then could see about 1,000 meteors, 40 meteorites and one bolide in just one night.

The first eyewitness accounts of a light celestial body in the Arctic sky appeared in the social networks. An amateur video from a car camera triggered a lively discussion. The bright object could be seen for several seconds. It was moving towards the horizon. The Emergency Ministry’s office in the Murmansk Region received no reports of falling celestial bodies or explosions.

As a researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Astronomy Institute, Aleksandr Bagrov, has said such phenomena are frequent. They are registered in various parts of the world nearly every week. Russia does not have a network of monitoring posts for meteor observations.

In the meantime, an assistant professor at the department of physical methods and quality control instruments at the Urals Federal University in Yekaterinburg, Nikolai Kruglikov, has told TASS that according to his sources the bolide produced a blast wave and could be seen from Finland, Norway and Russia’s Murmansk Region.

"This event was also observed in Finland by our counterparts from the Finnish Fireball Network. It looks like the meteor may have reached the surface near the junction of the Russian, Finnish and Norwegian borders. Videos available at the moment are few, but witnesses in Finland said they felt a strong shock wave, which merely confirms our conclusions," Kruglikov said, adding that at the moment of entry into the atmosphere the bolide might have had a mass of 100 kilograms.

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