UK Fireball: A historic meteor lit up the United Kingdom’s skies on Sunday at 9:56 PM (local time).
The American Meteor Society (AMS), which monitors and tracks meteor sightings worldwide, said the UK fireball was one of the most significant meteor events in modern history.
“We had over 750 witness reports in the first 2 hours after it happened. This rarely happens and puts the event in the top 5-10 AMS/IMO events of all time,” said Mike Hankey, Operations Manager of the American Meteor Society, in an email to The Debrief.
Witnesses reported seeing the spectacular fireball as it darted across the sky from as far away as the Netherlands and Belgium.
Wales Online reported eyewitnesses in Birmingham described it as a “massive fireball,” with some saying they heard a “sizzling sound” as it hurled towards the earth’s surface. Others reported hearing a thundering explosion caused by a roaring sonic boom as the meteor sped through the earth’s atmosphere faster than the speed of sound.
In a post on Twitter last night, the UK Meteor Network said they had received over a hundred reports, with many witnesses sharing videos and photos of the event. “The reports are flooding in, 120 so far and counting. From the two videos, we saw it was a slow-moving meteor with clearly visible fragmentation.”
Adding to the excitement, experts believe it is highly likely fragments from the meteorite survived the fall and are on the ground waiting to be found.
“There are over 30 reports of sonic booms right now. Combined with the slow speed of the fireball, this means there are probably meteorites on the ground now. The best thing, this is firmly over ground and not water which makes UK meteorite recovery difficult,” said Hankey. “The 10% of the time you have a sonic boom and no meteorites the meteor is moving very fast. When an event has sonic booms and a slow speed it is almost a 100% certainty that meteorites survived. ”
Based on witness reports, AMS’s system automatically computes a meteors’ trajectories to pinpoint the location in which meteorite fragments are most likely to be found.
Based on current analysis of the UK fireball’s trajectory, its believed the meteor touched down just outside the market town of Stratford-upon-Avon off Banbury Road.
Locating fragments of the UK fireball would be a historic achievement and represent the first time a meteorite has been recovered in Great Britain in thirty-years. Hankey says, “The last meteorite fall in the UK to be recovered was in 1991. There have been a total of 35 meteorite falls recovered in the UK in recorded history.”
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