Hundreds of people across the UK had front row seats to an intriguing mystery that literally over their heads on Wednesday night. A huge fireball of as yet unknown origins shot into the sky, baffling hundreds of people across Scotland, Ireland and England.
The fast-moving fireball was captured on multiple cameras around 10 p.m. local time. Some witnesses described it as looking green while videos showed it surrounded by a widespread flashing halo as it was clogged with clouds.
For Steve Owens, an astronomer and science hub at the Glasgow Science Center, the vision was “unbelievableHe told the BBC.
“I was sitting in my living room at exactly 22:00 and from the widow heading south I saw a sparkling fireball—this meteor—shinning in the sky,” he told the outlet. “I could tell it was something special. I could see through the broken cloud that it was splintering – disintegrating with little bits coming off of it.”
The British Meteor Network, a citizen science group that uses 170 detection cameras to capture meteors and fireballs across the UK, said it had received nearly 800 fireball reports. Meteorite International has received more than 1,000.
The exact details of the fireball – where it came from and where it landed – are still being investigated, but the IMO believes its path began in a triangle between Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and northern England and traveled slightly north and west, by landing in the ocean south of the Hebrides.
However, one thing that seemed certain was that the bolt of light was most likely not a meteor. Researchers believe it was most likely space debris, with some wondering if it belonged to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, although this has not been verified and, according to astronomer Jonathan McDowell, is unlikely to depend on the trajectory of the fireball.
“There is no evidence of Starlink or other space debris returning over the UK at that time,” McDowell said. He also said that they were slower than normal meteorites, although not completely out of the usual range,” but Very fast Satellite “.
But the British Meteor Network said that the fireball lasted for about 20 seconds, “which is relatively slow relative to a meteorite but is consistent with space debris.” Owens told the BBC that meteors or meteors tend to be “very small streaks of light that last for a split second”.
“There is a great deal of fireball speculation last night,” Britain’s Meteor Network wrote on Twitter on Thursday. “The evidence we’ve seen so far points to space junk but if we are presented with new data that changes that, we’ll let you know.”
Researchers continue to analyze the data to identify the transient object.
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