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 244.

    I was driving home from work - in Norfolk - at about 00:15. Saw it hurtling towards the Earth. Was pretty amazing, thought it was a meteorite, it looked well close.

  • rate this

    Comment number 243.

    I live in the black country and saw this object. I am no expert in astronamy but like billyrib, what I saw appeared to be actually rising in trajectory and covered about an 80 dergree arc in 4-5 seconds. I have served in the RAF and it was immediately obvious that it was moving way to quickly to be an aircraft.

  • rate this

    Comment number 242.

    To Wendy's husband and Endgame, I am also a stargazer, but I missed that wonderful meteor as well, bit annoying when you miss something like that, but you were not the only two to miss it live, I make 3. Nice to see the pictures of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 241.

    I live in Leith, Edinburgh and just happened to be gazing out of the window at the moon and the two planets that can be seen when I was aware of a large orange moving light.I Initially thought it was a plane since it was heading towards me from the direction of Edinburgh Airport. However,soon realised it was moving too fast and that it was far too bright to be a plane.It then disappeared from view

  • rate this

    Comment number 240.

    Chris Huhne caught again...

  • rate this

    Comment number 239.

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

    The last successful invasion of Britain from the continent was in 1688 actually and there were others in 1485, 1471, 1460 and 1399.

    Fireballs like this are much mire common than comets such as Halley's which preceded 1066 and reappears every 75 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 238.

    #211 Irony not your strong point? It looks as though it took 5 minutes or so to travel the length of the country. 120 miles per minute or 2 miles per second? I guessed that my field of view was around 6 miles for 10 seconds of movement, so it must have been higher than I thought, or my sense of time was warped by pure awe. :o)

  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    This is a marvelous opportunity to compare and contrast how different people perceive what appears to be the same event. From the descriptions offered, the sightings appear to have been more than one event. Was there more than one event?
    Can you do this comment thing again when the next batch of flying objects pass overhead? Hugely entertaining when there are no scary consequences.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    there was one go across the sky at tamworth and at first i thought is was a fire work at first then it carried on but it was too late to try and record it but then about 20 minutes later there was a police hellicopter around the direction it had gone it was fairly big aswell although i am only a teenager i will always remember it

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    It may have been a meteor breaking up, but then again maybe not.
    I live in Canada & I see strange lights that I didn't see when I was younger - things that look like mega-big search lights, or very bright flares. The oddest thing is that some expert will declare it's a meteor, & thereafter it becomes a meteor no matter what it may be or have been.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    I live on the north east coast in Wick. I watched the meteorite for about 45 seconds before it was lost to my horizon. I came in and checked the time on sky tv. It was 9.42. I seen a similar thing last Tuesday evening but it was travelling SE with me looking N. Not as big as last night but still pretty spectacular.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    We were just driving down a country lane when we all jumped out of the car to look at it.
    It was amazing and like others, we thought it may have been an aircraft that had caught fire as it seemed quite close and seemed to be travelling at relatively the same speed.
    We realised what it was and watched it until it burned out.
    We thought that it was quite local but obviously not.
    Phoebe, Warrington

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    Enjoying a pint on a clear night outside a Newcastle pub, when we heard astonished gasps. Looked up to see the meteor travelling north to south almost directly overhead. It was within size range to reach terminal velocity, moving relatively slow. I observed the tail diminish and stop, but could still clearly track the red hot object falling for a few more seconds. Great experience for a geologist!

  • rate this

    Comment number 231.

    Comment 220. den We're hit by these things all the time, maybe around 3000 per year. They're just not significant enough to cause any harm. They're just tiny chunks of rock or space debris which largely burn up on entry to the atmospere. To put in into perspective, the object colliding with Earth which wiped out the dinosaurs is thought to be about 5 miles wide.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    I went out at 7pm last night to photograph the moon, since it was such a clear sky. I live in Woking.
    There was an object travelling from the South West, heading in a North Easterly direction which was pulsating and orange in colour, as if it were on fire. No trail was seen from the object. No navigation lights could be seen. Another identical object followed 20 seconds later. They were silent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 229.

    Just a point of clarification. The definitions of "meteor" and "meteorite" in this article are incorrect. A meteorite is the petrological name for material derived from a meteor. It is not simply something larger than a meteor. Also, a meteor is not something that necessarily burns up completely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 228.

    Yay! I saw this at around 9:40pm near Glasgow. Was making a cuppa with the lights off. It was fiery orange, and took around 10 seconds to cover my field of view. Very impressive, and the first time I have seen anything like this since I was very young.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    I live in North Yorks and saw meteorite with red body and green tail moving north south after 11pm so there must have been more than one?

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    Finally an article we are all united on. This is AWESOME!

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I live in Bromham, Bedfordshire I saw moving lights across the sky from my window while I was watching tv, I thought they just sky lanterns released by people. They move fast one after another . If I knew they were meteorite I would have gone outside. Anyway, at least I witnessed something which I would never forget. They were so beautiful.


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