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'

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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”

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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 324.

    My neighbour says it was Scotland testing their new weapons system in readiness for independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 323.

    Re: 313.... Nice one Frank... very droll (and educated)... I enjoyed that.

    What does Auntie Beeb DO with all these comments anyway? Like any other topic, they don't formulate a report to send it to Number 10.

    Instant Shredder Fodder

  • rate this

    Comment number 322.

    Before we go on, has anyone checked if there was a flight from Tenerife which was due in at 9.30pm and hasnt arrived yet?

  • rate this

    Comment number 321.

    Was it associated with the Pi Viginids meteor shower? Particularly, given that the Raspberry Pi has just been launced.

    A nice bit of advertising.

  • rate this

    Comment number 320.

    Me and my partner were out in the garden last night looking up at the sky in llandrillo north wales when we seen a fire ball in the sky it went past slowly to start with then took off at high speed,it was magical to see

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    i saw the meteor last night when i was looking out at the sky from my bedroom window. first i thought it was a lantern, but i moved to quick. then i thought i was a plane, but was too small. i then thought it was a commet or a shooting star passing over head. but now i know it was a meteor. i feel so lucky to have seen one. i will never forget it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 318.

    I was driving through whitefield, Manchester and saw this fireball-like object moving across the sky, i thought it was a firework at first but when every one around was pulling over in their cars and all staring at the sky I realised it was something special. it was an amazing site and we watched it for about 30 seconds as it zoomed off into the distance. I told my friends id just seen a rocket!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 317.

    UFO ??? How many of you (at ground level) can tell the difference between a 757 and a 767 up there - at cruising altitude? If you cannot identify a flying object, do you call the Police ???

    I suspect it might have been an Alien Spacecraft... from a Planet that hadn't done sufficient homework about another Planet's atmosphere. A bit like Managers at our place - not conversing with the front-line.

  • rate this

    Comment number 316.

    What i dont understand is-why theres no reports of a crash? It obviously crashed somewhere-it was to bug to just burn out into nothingness.

  • rate this

    Comment number 315.

    Last night about 9.40pm I was outside and I saw what at first appeared to be a sky rocket (firework) ... so I watched it expecting it to explode in a shower of coloured lights but it just got brighter and brighter and as it passed overhead travelling north to south there were massive flames coming off it ..... it was a large meteor ... amazing view ... Lawrie from Thirsk North Yorkshire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 314.

    I saw the object in the sky around 21:40 from Manchester city centre - It was large and orange, moving quite fast with a trail behind it. It disappeared behind a building, and at the time I thought it must be a firework. However, when there was no explosion I realised it wasn't. The object didn't re-emerge from behind the building and must have continued through a patch of sky that was obscured

  • rate this

    Comment number 313.

    If it had landed near the Severn, it could have been "The Gloucester Meteor".

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    I didn't see it... its coming was not foretold. I blame the Govt. for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    Ah, so it wasn't Iran testing an IBM then? ;-)
    Too much cloud and rain here so didn't see it sadly.Sounds pretty impressive though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    I live in Yorkshire near Clayton and I saw it at about 9.45pm last night. I just happened to look at of the window and saw a ball of fire streaking through the sky - in about 10 secs it was out of sight. What an amazing sight!

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    I'm just amazed that so many people were just stood outside, staring up at the sky at 9.50 pm on a saturday night. Is this a regular hobby of theirs? I've seen one of these, purely by chance but heard no mention of anyone else witnessing it, so how come so many people claim to have seen this one? Were they somehow 'called' to go outside and look up??

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    This went over the top of us as we were on the M62 between Manchester and Oldham about 9.45pm, seemed very low in the sky!

  • 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 306.

    From my living room window on the north shore of the Clyde, I have a wide, open view and was amazed to see this meteorite travelling fast right across the sky to the south of me. It seemed to be travelling from east to west and from my perspective, it looked to come down near Largs. (Obviously not!) Very, very spectacular.

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    Last Saturday in the daytime, I saw a meteor burn up very brightly and completely disintegrate as it travelled from south to north above Widdop in West Yorkshire. Is this a recognised meteor cloud we are pasing through, or are these 'randoms'?


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