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'Rare and thrilling experience': Meteor sighting on May 24 dazzles Singaporeans

'Rare and thrilling experience': Meteor sighting on May 24 dazzles Singaporeans
Facebook user Priyanka Vijoy uploaded a video of the meteor, describing the experience of seeing it as being "thrilling".
PHOTO: Facebook/Priyanka Vijoy

SINGAPORE - Mr Russell Su was completing his night run in Queenstown on May 24 when he saw a bright blue streak of light dart through the sky.

Mesmerised, he initially thought the flying object might be a drone that had caught fire and was about to crash. "It looked exactly like the comet in the viral videos from Portugal recently," said the freelance model and actor, 21.

"I've seen quite a few shooting stars in low-light situations… But nothing quite as spectacular and massive as this." 

A meteor lit up the skies in Singapore at about 11.50pm on May 24, leaving those who saw it in awe. 

According to Nasa's website, a meteor is a rock that enters earth's atmosphere at high speed and burns up.

Facebook user Priyanka Vijoy uploaded a video of the meteor onto the platform, describing the sighting as a "rare and thrilling experience".

Yishun resident Akidah Selamat was preoccupied with her mobile phone in Yishun Central when she noticed the sky light up in her peripheral vision. 

"I immediately looked up and saw a blazing object with a long tail flying across the sky," said the 25-year-old quality control officer.

"Sadly, my view was obstructed by a shelter and the moment I repositioned myself, it was gone. I love stargazing, so I was stunned to see a meteor when I did not expect it." 

Over in Sembawang, Ms Charlotte Lee, 23, was fishing with her friends when the meteor, which she described as a green flare with an orange tail, streaked across the sky for about five seconds.

She shouted in excitement and was enthralled, said the tattoo artist, who added that she enjoys looking at constellations.

"I didn't manage to catch the meteor showers in late April, so seeing one without expecting it was really cool," said Ms Lee, referring to the Lyrids meteor shower that was expected to peak in Singapore at night on April 22.

"I joked that the meteor might bring us luck, and my partner caught a fish just minutes after."

Astronomical Society of Singapore president Soh Kim Mun said the meteor was bright enough to be called a fireball, the astronomical term for a meteor that is exceptionally bright and spectacular enough to be seen over a wide area, according to Nasa.

"It probably outshone the full moon beside it... It's rare to come across a single meteor this bright," said Mr Soh, who added that he has witnessed a similar occurrence only once.

"Singapore skies have heavy light pollution, so it can get hard to see single meteors."

Meteor showers have predictable paths and timings, but he added that "a random small meteor might have happened to come into the path of the earth and burned off in our atmosphere".

Showers usually occur annually or at regular intervals as the Earth passes through trails of debris left over by a comet, according to Nasa. 

The sighting in Singapore's skies came after people in Spain and Portugal had a similar experience on May 18.

ALSO READ: Comet fragment lights up sky over Spain and Portugal 'like a movie'

This article was first published in The Straits Times. Permission required for reproduction.

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