Thousands were thrown into a state of panic in the tiny Central American nation of El Salvador on Sunday, April 17, 2016, when a huge fireball that appeared suddenly over the city of Chalchuapa in the Santa Ana department of the country, turned the night sky blood red.
There was pandemonium when the skies turned suddenly blood red, with thousands of residents of Chalchuapa fearing that the ominous transformation of the sky was a portent of annihilation, a sign of the commencement of the apocalypse and the end of the world.
— Jean-Philippe (@AHAVA78) April 21, 2016
Many who realized that the transformation was likely caused by a meteor panicked out of fear that a huge space rock was about to hit and incinerate the city.
Terrifying images of the sudden blood-red transformation of the skies over Chalchuapa uploaded to social media by the Salvadoran news site El Blog have gone viral around the world with thousands debating the nature of the mysterious fireball that appeared over El Salvador.
The news site El Blog reports that residents of the city attending a service at the Horem-Ebenezer church said they saw a “giant red ball” that was visible in the sky for only a few seconds. It appeared in the sky momentarily and disappeared mysteriously but left the skies glowing red for several seconds after it disappeared.
— The Last Days! (@TheLastDays777) April 20, 2016
Sunday service at the church had just ended and worshipers were leaving the church when the huge red ball appeared.
“According to the information received, several people were going out of a religious service at the Horem-Ebenezer church when they saw a giant red ball in the sky,” El Blog writes, according to Express.
“[The giant red ball lasted] just seconds and disappeared, leaving the skies tinted with a red color. After the passage of the fire ball in the atmosphere, it left a trail of dust for some time,” according to El Blog.
“[The giant red ball lasted] just seconds and disappeared, leaving the skies tinted with a red color.”
Panic spread online as people took to social media and uploaded images and videos of the spectacular incident. Social media users across the world debated and speculated about the nature of the mysterious red fireball.
— Última Hora (@ultimahsv) April 18, 2016
Some recalled the recent earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan in which hundreds of people died and speculated that the latest incidents could be signs of the end times as foretold in the New Testament scriptures.
Believers quoted Revelation 6:12-13, which says, “There was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood. And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs.”
Others quoted Matthew 24:29, “The sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.”
But according to astronomers, the visible light that accompanies a meteor depends on the speed with which the meteor impacts with the atmosphere and the chemical composition of the meteor.
The color of light emitted depends specifically on the type of metal atoms that compose the meteor. Atoms and molecules of air also influence the color of the light that a meteor emits as it burns through Earth’s atmosphere.
Sodium atoms composing a meteor usually emit an orange-yellow light, while iron atoms tend to emit yellow light. Meteors composed of magnesium emit a dominant blue-green light. A violet light is indicative of the presence of ionized calcium.
Meteors composed of silicates are known to glow with a red light. Molecules of atmospheric nitrogen and oxygen atoms tend to impart a red glow as the meteor burns on impact with the Earth’s atmosphere.
Similarly, meteors that impact with the Earth’s atmosphere at a relatively slow speed tend to glow red while faster meteors tend to have a blue color.
[Image via Shutterstock]