UPDATE: After hearing from several experts, this fireball was likely NOT a re-entering rocket body. Bob Christy from Zarya.info confirmed that the two videos were reportedly made around 20:00 – 21:00 UTC, and according to SpaceTrack, the Centaur re-entered about 19 hours earlier at 01:23 UTC. Additionally, the re-entry ground track did not cross Brazil at a correlating time. Dr. Marco Langbroek from SatTrackCam concurred there is no chance this was a Centaur rocket. “Looking at the videos, to me it looks like a very slow, grazing meteor.”
We recently posted a video of a huge meteor streaking over the skies of Brazil. It turns out this wasn’t your average, ordinary, everyday meteor. It was actually a Centaur rocket body re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, according to fellow NASA Solar System Ambassador Eddie Irizarry. “An amazing video that shows a fireball lasting more than 30 seconds captured the reentry of a Centaur rocket body that was launched on 1985,” said Irizarry in an email, reporting for the Sociedad de Astronomía del Caribe, the Puerto Rican Astronomy Society. “The object was seen from southeast Brazil by hundreds of people on April 20, 2012 and on the same date, Intelsat 5A12’s rocket body was about to reenter Earth’s atmosphere, passing exactly over the ground track from which some people were able to capture amazing images,” reported Irizarry.
There’s a second video below, as well as a map of the area the fireball was seen.
Thanks to Eddie for sharing his insight.
Nancy Atkinson is currently Universe Today’s Contributing Editor. Previously she served as UT’s Senior Editor and lead writer, and has worked with Astronomy Cast and 365 Days of Astronomy. Nancy is the author of the new book “Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos.” She is also a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.