Police and astronomical organisations have been inundated with calls from across the UK on Saturday night after a large fireball raced across the night sky.
Reports of a glowing bright orange light were received by police across Scotland and the north of England at around 2140GMT (1640EDT) on Saturday. Some witnesses believed they were seeing a plane breaking up and crashing while others thought it was a Chinese lantern. The Met Office tweeted:
Hi All, for anyone seeing something in the night sky, we believe it was a meteorite.
Strathclyde Police in Scotland said they were inundated with calls regarding a bright orange object seen in the western sky. A website based in the US, which documents all fireball sightings was besieged by reports from UK sky watchers overnight. Ian Fisher from Glasgow reported:
In all my life i have seen nothing like this, seen a few shooting stars but this at first looked like an aircraft on fire, low in the sky not moving that fast. I tried to get my camera phone but it was gone before I could unlock and get the camera. None it was still moving when it went out of sight In all my life i have seen nothing like this, seen a few shooting stars but this at first looked like an aircraft on fire, low in the sky not moving that fast. I tried to get my camera phone but it was gone before I could unlock and get the camera. It looked like it was on fire with sparks, it was rather large and at first I thought it was an aircraft on fire
The Kielder Observatory in the UK documented the sighting as a "huge fireball" travelling in a southerly direction and ranked at magnitude -9. The brightness scale is extremely high as a -6 would be bright enough to observe in daylight skies and a -8 would be a 1in 12,000 event, so a -9 has been described by the observatory as "the best in 30 years of observing", reports Sky News.
Meteor watchers regularly see the Perseid meteor shower in mid-August but this one off fireball has come most unexpectedly.