Lonely Planet Writer

Brisbane weathercam captures meteor streaking across the skyline

In yet another example of a utilitarian camera capturing an extraordinary image, a Brisbane weather camera has captured the moment a meteor blazed across the city’s skies.

Capturing a meteor streaking through the sky usually requires good photography skills.
Capturing a meteor streaking through the sky usually requires good photography skills. Image by John Flannery / CC BY-SA 2.0

Australian Weathercam Network’s (AWN) camera at New Farm captured the outstanding image at exactly 7:50:40pm (AEST) on Monday night. The blink-and-you’d-miss-it event was also spotted by a number of skywatchers, who took to social media to share their excitement.

Kate Wall, who was driving home in Fernvale at the time, told Brisbane’s Courier Mail that “it lit up the whole sky.” Speculation on social media as to what the “massive” flash might have been ranged from shooting star to alien invasion.

Wappa Falls Astronomical Observatory astronomer Owen Bennedick confirmed the object streaking across the sky in the weathercam’s image was indeed a meteorite. “It was going far too fast to be a satellite,” he told Australia’s ABC network. “Satellites only travel at between five and seven kilometres a second, that sounds fast to most people, but that’s quite slow astronomically speaking.”

While those who pay attention to such things can spot a meteor as often as every half hour, it is unusual to see them against such a brightly-lit skyline. Dr Stephen Hughes from Queensland University of Technology’s Science and Engineering Faculty confirmed the meteor would have been burning very brightly to show up against the Brisbane CBD’s lights. “If you see a meteor flash really quick it’s probably the size of a grain of sand. If it’s like this it could be bigger because it’s burning for longer,” he told the ABC. “The fact it’s got that light competition and it can still be seen … I would veer towards something a bit bigger coming in.”