UK meteor lights up night sky with sightings of 'fireball' reported across the country

1 March 2021, 09:18 | Updated: 1 March 2021, 11:55

A Meteor was seen lighting up UK skies last night
A Meteor was seen lighting up UK skies last night. Picture: UK Meteor Network

By Kate Buck

A huge blaze was seen lighting up the night across the UK, as a meteor roared its way across the skies.

The meteor was visible for around 10 seconds shortly before 10 pm last night, and was caught on people's doorbell cameras across the country.

it sent a sonic boom across southern England, according to scientists from the UK Fireball Alliance (UKFall), which is led by staff at the Natural History Museum.

UKFall said the bright light could be seen from Ireland to the Netherlands, and the meteor is set to break the world record as the most-reported ever - with 758 such reports on International Meteor Organisation's website so far.

Across the UK, many video doorbell and security cameras captured the astronomical event.

"The video recordings tell us its speed was about 30,000 miles per hour, which is too fast for it to be human-made 'space junk', so it's not an old rocket or satellite," said UKFall's Dr Ashley King.

"The videos also allowed us to reconstruct its original orbit around the sun. In this case, the orbit was like an asteroid's.

"This particular piece of asteroid spent most of its orbit between Mars and Jupiter, though sometimes got closer to the Sun than Earth is."

UKFall said though the meteor fragmented in the atmosphere it is likely "a few fragments" reached the ground.

"If you do find a meteorite on the ground, ideally photograph it in place, note the location using your phone GPS, don't touch it with a magnet, and, if you can, avoid touching it with your hands," said Dr Katherine Joy of the University of Manchester.

Some amateur stargazers were lucky enough to see it firsthand, with one Twitter user saying: "Anyone else see the #meteor burn up over the UK just before 10pm tonight? I first thought it was a bright star or plane, then it got bigger & faster, then a huge flash lit up the sky & it burst into a massive tail of orange sparks trailing behind like a giant firework! So cool!"

But not everyone was so overjoyed with seeing the flying inferno, with some saying it left them "terrified".

A witness in Streatham said: "I saw 2 flashes as I was doing the dishes in SW16 then a green liked [sic] streaked back and forth at my window. I thought someone was targeting me with a laser and I ran out of the kitchen and turned off the light. Terrified."

Another person in Somerset said: "Had the patio doors open, with the curtains closed over them.

"Was a very soft, muffled thud, followed by the heavy curtains blowing inwards, albeit very gently."

Meteors are balls of space rock which burn up as they enter the earth's atmosphere.

Footage shared online showed the phenomenon seemingly breaking up as it burned.

Around a dozen meteors are recorded by the UK Meteor Network each year, and worldwide they are spotted almost everyday.

The vast majority plummet into the sea, or into inhabited land, and it is currently unknown where last night's may have landed. Some people have reported finding fragments in their garden in west England.