A fireball seen over the UK was a meteor, experts say


A fireball seen shooting into the sky over parts of the UK is a meteor, experts have said.

The UK Meteor Network said it had received almost 800 reports after the flaming orb was spotted in the night sky over Northern Ireland and Scotland on Wednesday.

Scientists used video footage taken by members of the public and analyzed data to find out if the “glowing fireball” was debris or matter from space.

They said the object, which lasted more than 20 seconds, was “definitely a meteor”, adding that “we are now 100% confident that it is a small part of an asteroid”.

The network said the end of the meteor’s journey was not seen on camera, but that it ended over the North Atlantic, about 50-100km west of the Isle of Isla, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides.

An updated tweet from the organization read: “It (meteor) came in an asteroid orbit and entered the atmosphere at 14.2 km/s.

“The observed part of the trajectory covers more than 300 km.

“If any meteorites fell, they ended up in the ocean.”

Software developer Stuart Padley commented, asking if the meteor would have caused a crater and if so, what size, to which the network replied: “Probably none. It was quite small.”

Reports of the flaming space material started coming in around 9pm on Wednesday, mainly from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Danny Nel, 21, was walking his dog in Johnston, near Glasgow, when he saw the fireball.

He told the PA news agency: “Strangely it was exactly 10pm and I just saw the lightning in the sky and took out my phone and recorded it.

“At first I thought it might be fireworks because there was a lot of Scottish football on, but I quickly realized it wasn’t and I just grabbed my phone to see if I could catch it.”

Steve Owens, an astronomer and science communicator at the Glasgow Science Centre, saw the fireball as it passed.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “It was amazing. I was sitting in my living room at exactly 10 o’clock last night and I saw out the window, due south, this brilliant fireball, this meteor flying across the sky, and I could tell it was something special because I could see through a broken cloud.

“It was not perfectly visible; I could see it shattering, falling apart, there were little pieces coming off of it.

“Usually if you see a meteor or a shooting star, they’re just tiny little streaks of light that last a fraction of a second. This one was moving across the sky for at least 10 seconds – probably more than that – and it was traveling from due south all the way to the west, so it was quite an amazing sight.”

He said it was possible it had landed, but added it was “highly unlikely” it had happened in Scotland.

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