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 204.

    Amazing Large Meteor last night 21h45 as travelling on A34 North just near Jodrell Bank.Looking like a plane taking off from Manchester Airport at first, but the size of 2 Venus objects,as the object rose towards me & veering east,stopped my car,fumbling for my camera (was too late as whole event lasted 20 seconds),a flaring red tail emerged & the whole object disintegrated 'near' Mars in the sky.

  • rate this

    Comment number 203.


    Wasn't something like this seen in the sky the last time Britain was conquered by enemies from the continent too? (In 1066)


    Close but no cigar!
    The 1066 appearance was Halley's Comet, and would have been visible for weeks, moving very slowly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 202.

    Oh dear.... some really do think it could have been aliens...

    That's sad. Vivid imagines and insanity is a thin line...

    I just hope it made it down to Libya and took out those grave smashers.

  • 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 200.

    Hmm, Spitting Image never did a Comet skit did they ? Must check You Tube ! Is this a slow news day ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 199.

    I'm sorry I missed it too, especially as it was so clear last night. It is one of those things that make us humans realise we are part of a live and fully functioning universe with all it’s awesome power and majesty, not merely an audience watching it from the sidelines.

  • rate this

    Comment number 198.

    Probably the best thing iv ever seen! On par with kids being born! Watched its beautiful colors over galashiels in Scottish borders till it went over the horizon and disappeared! Amazing! Garry R.

  • rate this

    Comment number 197.

    Around 9.45pm in Crieff perthshire i witnessed the meteor travelling steadily and brightly across the clear night sky, it was a great moment to enjoy with our 7 year old son who we then had to reassure him that it wasn't something from E.T.

  • rate this

    Comment number 196.

    Lichfield Staffs: I had just arrived home in my car around 9.45pm, and what looked like a firework at first caught my eye but the orange ball continued horizontally left to right across the sky with a trail of sparks behind it, fascinating! So lucky to have seen it, the sky was beautifully clear! I worried it might be a plane in trouble for a just a moment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 195.

    I was on a campsite near Helmsley at about 9.45pm last night and noticed what I thought to be a firework from the north. It appeared to rise up, then it tracked a smooth arc south across most of the sky where it burnt out. It did not make a sound and had a long orange tail. I saw one of these Christmas eve with a green tail while in billingham and thought I would never see one again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 194.

    We were driving home to North Wales from Chester, and my husband and step daughter seen it at 9.30pm. They also thought it was a firework! Amazing sight!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 193.

    I was in Hatfield-Hertfordshire in the evening and saw a bright light which at first i thought was one of the brightest stars in the sky but then i also saw the star i believed it was. It looked amazing - it made the brightest star in the sky look like an ordinary star!

  • rate this

    Comment number 192.

    I was walking along the shore in Rothesey Bay Isle of Bute when this very bright slight light glided by at what appeared to be no more than a few hundred feet high. It looked like the size of a large beach ball with a triagular tail of light following behind. No one about to confirm I had not had a dram to many!

  • rate this

    Comment number 191.

    Or possibly Triffids !

  • rate this

    Comment number 190.

    40. chris. "Can someone with an astronomy background please comment how a meteor that is burning up can move so slowly for such and extended period of time."

    Amateur here: I've been looking at the times/places, thank you twitter, and it looks like this was very high for it to be observed at the same time over a wide area. Something travelling over 20K-Mph 60 miles up looks slower from G/level.

  • rate this

    Comment number 189.

    Wasn't something like this seen in the sky the last time Britain was conquered by enemies from the continent too? (In 1066)

  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    About 2-3 weeks back I saw a bright orange fireball moving extremely fast through the night sky over Bedfordshire. I watched it until the houses opposite blocked my view. It wasn't a firework or Chinese lantern and I initially thought it was an aircraft on fire. However, having seen the footage of the meteor I firmly believe it was one of these.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    WOW!!! Walking the dog last night, 9.30 ish, North Birmingham area, thought it was a sky lantern at first but obviously to fast, burning tail as described by most.
    It was my daughter's 9th birthday, what a present for her, she made a wish, which she is keeping a secret.
    Don't know what i'll arrange for her next birthday though!

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    175. Frank Lund
    Who will be first to blame it on Global Watming?
    Or on Labour, immigrants, the unemployed and bleeding heart liberals?
    But seriously, I am very envious of anyone who's seen this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    We live in the Middleton ( North of Manchester), on looking out into the back garden, we saw, what looked like a small missile passing across from North to South, it looked about the height of a small plane and was visibile for about 20 seconds, after seeing the news this morning, we are sure it was the meteor.


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