Slow-moving fireball lights up night sky in Scotland

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Hundreds of people across Scotland, Northern Ireland and northern parts of England spotted an unusual fireball lighting up the night sky Wednesday.

It was unclear whether it was a meteor or a piece of space debris, said Aine O’Brien, a doctoral student at the University of Glasgow and a member of the UK Fireball Alliance, which tracks meteor sightings. The fireball was visible in the sky for 10 to 20 seconds – an unusually long period of time for a meteor – but the way the object fragmented in the night sky suggested it was a space rock.

Can’t believe I seen this and managed to catch it on camera!! Going over Paisley at 10pm☄️ #glasgow #paisley #meteor #comet #fireball @UKMeteorNetwork @Daily_Record pic.twitter.com/mH9o2062nI— Vanessa (@_vangal) September 14, 2022

“It’s got properties of both. We’ve got people processing the footage and working out the trajectory of it,” O’Brien said. “In the moment, we can only guess. Either way it was an amazing event.”

There have been nearly 800 reports of the fireball that was seen over UK last night. The preliminary trajectory has been calculated by the IMO and indicates that the object, which we now believe to be space debris, would have landed in the Atlantic south of the Hebrides. pic.twitter.com/skSvl0YH5Y— UK Meteor Network (@UKMeteorNetwork) September 15, 2022

Here’s the footage from my Ring camera https://t.co/KiG3qOxYu6 pic.twitter.com/nhCD4P5HpP— James Shampoo Williams 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (@james_w_89) September 14, 2022

Most fireballs are only visible for a few seconds, she said. A meteorite that struck a driveway in central England last year fell through the sky for seven seconds.

The fireball was spotted at about 10 p.m. local time Wednesday. The relatively early hour, plus clear night skies, meant that many people saw the fireball even in built-up areas such as Glasgow, O’Brien said. Many of those lucky enough to spot the fireball shared cellphone and door camera videos on social media.

Richard Kacerek, founder of the UK Meteor Observation Network, said the group’s initial assessment was that it was space debris. “Judging from the videos recorded by the public, it seems to be moving far slower than a meteor would,” he said.

Wow — a meteor appears to have entered the earth’s atmosphere & crashed somewhere north of #Glasgow, along #Scotland’s northwestern coast.pic.twitter.com/5E7h1uIdf5— Charles Lister (@Charles_Lister) September 14, 2022

Cis Verbeeck, president of the International Meteor Organization, said the group had received more than 800 reports on its website and then used that information to compile a possible trajectory of the fireball.

The fireball’s path suggested it passed over the North Channel, which separates Scotland and Northern Ireland, and ended its journey somewhere above Islay, an island off the west coast of Scotland.