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Christmas fireball lights up Spanish skies

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Christmas fireball lights up Spanish skies
Screen grab: JM Madiedo/University of Huelva/YouTube
14:26 CET+01:00
A slow-moving meteoroid provided a dramatic spectacle as it streaked more than 1,200 kilometres (745 miles) across Spain during the new king's Christmas Eve speech.

While King Felipe was delivering his inaugural Christmas message, a different kind of show was taking place in skies above Spain with an earth-grazing fireball travelling diagonally from the south-east of Spain to the north-west of the country.

The 100kg (220 pound) rock with a diameter of just one metre entered Spanish skies at the border between the regions of Murcia and Almeria and left the country via the south of Galicia about a minute later.

It then bounced off the Earth's atmosphere shortly after heading out over the Atlantic ocean.

Travelling at 80,000km an hour, the meteoroid's passage was "a tremendously unusual phenomenon", the University of Huelva's resident meteorite expert José María Madiedo told Spanish daily ABC.  

While the meteoroid — which originated in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter — wasn't the brightest ever seen above Spain, its slow-moving nature made for great viewing.

"There were people who saw the meteoroid while they were driving and who had time to park, and get out of their car, and there was still light in the sky," Madiedo said.

For those who managed to see the event, the rock "looked like a star of Bethlehem", the astronomer added.    

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