Meteor witnessed across Britain


Sightings of the meteor have been reported in Scotland and as far south as Devon

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Police forces say they have received a number of calls reporting what is believed to have been a meteor.

A "huge fireball" was reported travelling from northern Scotland to southern England at about 21:40 GMT, amid fears a plane had crashed.

Police received reports of a "bright light" and "orange glow", but aircraft-related incidents were ruled out.

The Met Office tweeted: "Hi All, for anyone seeing something in the night sky, we believe it was a meteorite."

Meteors are particles from space that burn up as they plummet through Earth's atmosphere, sometimes emitting light, creating a "fireball" effect.

Meteorites are larger, more durable objects that survive heating in the atmosphere and land on Earth. It is not known if that happened on Saturday.

'Is life ending?'

Hundreds of people tweeted about what they had seen and the Kielder Observatory, in Northumberland, described it as a "huge fireball" travelling from north to south over the county.

Gary Fildes, observatory director, who was with a group of about 40 people when they spotted the meteor, said: "We got an incredible view. It was phenomenal.

"They went absolutely mental. I was getting questions about what it is and is it going to end life on Earth? It was massively exciting."

Mr Fildes, who has been an astronomer for 30 years, said he had never seen anything like it and described the experience as "one I'll never forget as long as I live".

Dr David Whitehouse, a science writer, said: "Occasionally you get a very big piece of debris coming into the Earth's atmosphere and this causes a fireball.

"When you see this fireball breaking up, you're seeing the wreckage of a planet that couldn't form properly when the solar system was young and a bit of rock that has been orbiting the Sun for perhaps thousands of millions of years."

'Ball of fire'

Start Quote

I looked up and saw these two huge tails of light coming off it and I thought it was a plane on fire going down into Edinburgh”

End Quote Witness

Adrian West, of Meteorwatch, said he had seen reports of sightings from Scotland to Devon.

He said he saw the meteor in Berkshire and believed it could have gone down in the English Channel or the Bay of Biscay.

Adam Hepworth, from Helensburgh, in Argyll, told the BBC: "I was leaving work and getting into my car and I noticed a really bright light moving slowly across the sky.

"At first I thought it was a sky lantern but then I realised it couldn't have been due to the speed that it was moving. I then thought perhaps it is a plane that had caught fire.

"I knew it was really odd and sat there for a few minutes just staring at it."

Grampian Police said many people had reported seeing a "flare or a bright object with a tail", while Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary said it had received reports of a "large ball of fire in the sky".

Strathclyde Police said it had been "inundated" with calls, while Lothian and Borders Police also reported taking "quite a lot" of calls.

What are meteors?

  • Usually dust or sand grain-sized rocks travelling at hundreds of kilometres per second
  • Burn up on entering atmosphere, creating bright streaks
  • Seen "randomly" on most clear evenings
  • "Meteor showers" seen several times per year
  • Formed when Earth passes through comet debris

Durham Police said air traffic control had confirmed there had not been any incidents of aircraft in difficulties.

A force spokeswoman said: "The sightings are believed to be either an asteroid burning out or similar which has been restricted to the upper atmosphere only."

Laura Yusuf, of Mitcham, in Surrey, said she saw the meteor while travelling on the M6.

"It was an amazing sight. Bright orange flames trailing behind it as it slowly burnt itself out," she told the BBC.

Another witness, who called BBC Radio 5 Live's Stephen Nolan programme, said: "I looked up and saw these two huge tails of light coming off it and I thought it was a plane on fire going down into Edinburgh.

"It was massive, there was the red at the back of it, then these two huge white tails and then these blue bits at the very end."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    I saw the meteorite last blazing across the sky in Birmingham. I was only nipping out to get some milk but when I looked up into the sky I realised straight away what it was! I have seen this type of occurence before when I used to live in the Aussie outback as the light pollution is much less there. To see one in England too was real treat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    I would hazard a guess that those who are whining about people calling the police didn't see it. My girlfriend saw this and her original thought was that it could be a plane on fire - it was unlike anything she had ever seen before - but it was a big fire ball. I missed it so I can't say whether it was a meteor or a dead satellite - until then it is an Unidentified Flying Object. Not ET though

  • rate this

    Comment number 201.

    I live in South Wales and had just got in from work , looked out of the window and noticed this bright light trailing through the sky that made me get up to the window and call my husband. By the time he had come to look, it had burnt out. He thought I was seeing things. I know Im daft but Im glad others saw it too.He will have to swallow his pride and apologise for once !!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    I live in the Highlands and clearly observed this about 21.45. At first I thought it was a firework until I realised it was moving too fast. It must have travelled across the sky for over 20 seconds and was a truly awe inspiring sight, such occurences realy give you that feeling of total insignificance on a galactic scale! I must admit to a couple of nervous minutes waiting for a giant BOOM!

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    I was outside Stargazing with my massive binoculars and at about 9.25 pm decided to come inside, about 5 mins before the meteor came overhead.
    I would have had a stunning view @ 40x100......typical.
    Totally missed it......looked amazing tho'....


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