A spectacular multi-coloured fireball was witnessed in Ireland and Scotland by dozens of people on the evening of 29 November 2015.

 

A startling image of the meteor of 29 November as it crosses Ursa Major. The image was taken through double glazing, hence its double appearance. (Image credit: Philip McErlean. ©Philip McErlean 2015)

A startling image of the meteor of 29 November as it crossed Ursa Major seen from Stranmillis, Belfast. The image was taken through double glazing, hence its double appearance. (Image credit: Philip McErlean. ©Philip McErlean 2015)

 

This was the fiery descent of a meteor through the Earth’s atmosphere. The meteoroid itself was a tiny stony or metallic piece of natural space debris, essentially material left over from the formation of the Solar System. Only those who happened to be under a clear sky and to be looking in the right direction at the right time (8.22 UTC) were lucky enough to see this amazing sight. Most witnesses seem to be in Northern Ireland but it was seem from Scotland and Letterkenny and Longford in the Republic of Ireland too.  The fireball was captured on video by a local station of the UK Meteor Observation Network.
 

 
Some witnesses reported the fireball to be orange leaving a blue or green tail.

If enough data about the flight path of this reentering debris is known, astronomers may be able to calculate its orbit and deduce the details of its origin and history. If you saw this visitor from outer space, please take a few minutes to fill in Armagh Observatory’s on-line fire ball report form.

(Article by Colin Johnston, Science Education Director)


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