Fireball meteor lights up night skies across UK

Brilliant ball of light seen in skies above Scotland, England and Northern Ireland

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The brilliant fireball seen in night skies above parts of the UK is believed to have been a meteor, experts have said.

The blazing orb was seen in the night sky on Wednesday, with the UK Meteor Network saying it had received almost 800 reports of sightings.

The network said the object, which lasted more than 20 seconds, was “definitely a meteor”.

“We are now 100 per cent confident this was a small part of an asteroid," it said.

People saw the ball of light in the skies above parts of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland.

The network said the end of the meteor’s journey was not captured on camera, but that it ended over the North Atlantic Ocean, between 50 kilometres and 100km west of the Isle of Islay, the southern-most island of the Inner Hebrides.

An updated tweet from the organisation read: “It came on an asteroidal orbit and entered the atmosphere at 14.2km a second.

“The observed portion of the trajectory covered over 300km.

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

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Reports starting coming in about 9pm on Wednesday, mainly from Scotland and Northern Ireland.

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

“It was strangely enough 10pm on the dot, and I just saw the flash in the sky and pulled out my phone and recorded it,” Mr Nell told PA.

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

Steve Owens, an astronomer at the Glasgow Science Centre, saw the meteor as it passed over.

“It was incredible," Mr Owens told BBC Radio Scotland.

"I was sitting in my living room at exactly 10.00 last night and saw out of the window, due south, this brilliant fireball, this meteor streaking across the sky, and I could tell that it was something special because I could see through broken cloud.

“It wasn’t perfectly visible. I could see that it was fragmenting, breaking apart. There were little bits coming off it.

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“Normally, if you see a meteor or a shooting star, they are just tiny little streaks of light, they last for a fraction of a second.

"This one was streaking across the sky for at least 10 seconds — probably longer than that — and it travelled from due south all the way across to the west, so it was a pretty incredible sight.”

He said it was possible it could have landed but it was “highly unlikely” to have done so in Scotland.

“Normally these tiny little streaks of light, these little shooting stars, they all burn up and everything just vanishes and evaporates in the atmosphere, but the thing last night was bigger than a little bit of dust,” Mr Owens said.

“The one last night might have been the size of a golf ball or maybe a cricket ball, maybe bigger than that, so it’s certainly not impossible that bits could have landed.”

Updated: September 16, 2022, 5:17 AM
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