‘Brilliant fireball’ that lit up the night sky over parts of Britain was space debris, experts say

By Jill Lupupa,
Published by Sky News, 15 September 2022

The UK Meteor Network gathered more than 200 reports from eye witnesses seeing a meteorite in the sky over Wednesday night.

A “brilliant fireball” which lit up the night sky over parts of Britain was space debris, experts say.

The UK Meteor Network received over 200 reports of the “fireball” being spotted in the night sky at approximately 9pm on Wednesday.

The organisation said that having studied many videos of the incident, it is now of the opinion “this was space debris”.

It comes after people spotted the ball of light in the skies above parts of Scotland, northern England and Northern Ireland.

The network said the preliminary trajectory has been calculated by the International Meteor Organisation, and this “indicates that the object, which we now believe to be space debris, would have landed in the Atlantic south of the Hebrides”.

Danny Nell, 21, witnessed the meteorite when out walking his dog in Johnstone, west of Paisley and Glasgow.

He said: “I was walking my dog and 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.

“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.”

Another eye witness, Steve Owens, astronomer and science communicator at the Glasgow Science Centre saw the meteorite as it flew over Scotland on Wednesday evening.

Mr Owens told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland: “It was incredible. I was sitting in my living room at exactly 10 o’clock 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.

“And 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.”

Mr Owens considered that it is “hugely unlikely” that the fireball landed in Scotland.

A space account tweeted in the early hours of Thursday morning: “Large meteor spotted burning up over Scotland and Northern Ireland.”

Mr Owens also told BBC Radio 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.

“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.”

The meteorite flew over Scotland and Northern Ireland. Pic: UKMON

He continued: “The UK Meteor Network, which has had hundreds of reports from around Scotland and further afield, is going to be able to triangulate all of those reports to work out its trajectory.

“It looked to me like it was heading… it was certainly heading towards the west and, given that people in Northern Ireland were reporting seeing it, it could well have passed over land and ended up in the Atlantic, but it’s certainly not impossible that it landed – finding it will be the challenge.”

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