Astronomers seeking witnesses to Sunday fireball

Astronomy Ireland received hundreds of reports of phenomenon late last weekend

A meteorite creates a streak of light  over the north Yorkshire moors at Leaholm, England last Sunday. Astronomy Ireland are ‘desperately’ seeking eye-witness accounts of a fireball that reportedly streaked across Irish skies late last weekend.  Photograph: Steven Watt/Reuters

A meteorite creates a streak of light over the north Yorkshire moors at Leaholm, England last Sunday. Astronomy Ireland are ‘desperately’ seeking eye-witness accounts of a fireball that reportedly streaked across Irish skies late last weekend. Photograph: Steven Watt/Reuters

 

Astronomers are “desperately” seeking eye-witness accounts of a fireball that was seen streaking across Irish skies on Sunday.

According to David Moore, editor of the Astronomy Ireland magazine, his organisation received hundreds of reports of a bright fireball at 10.10pm on Sunday night, all the way from Kerry to Donegal.

“It was most likely a rock from space exploding in the atmosphere, we’re still trying to gauge how big it was and where it might have landed,” Mr Moore said.

“If you were in space looking down, you would have seen Ireland lit up for a few seconds. People in urban areas with their lights on watching their TVs with windows facing the right direction have reported seeing it.

“We were getting reports from Valentia Coast Guard of flares being released, but it was the wrong colour for one of their flares, so they were getting lots of reports last night as well,”

Mr Moore said the energy involved in Sunday night’s spectacle would have been equal to an atomic bomb dropping during the second World War.

Similar object

Reports suggest that a similar object was also spotted over northern England and Wales around the same time.

Such events can be seen from more than 1,000km away.

On average, it is thought that two meteorites land on Irish soil each year, but they’re rarely as visible as this latest sighting.

On the basis of the eye-witness accounts received so far, experts speculate that the object could have been as large as a car.

The last time a meteorite was actually recovered in Ireland was in Loughlinbridge in Co Carlow in 1999.

“We are desperately seeking people to fill out the report form on Astronomy.ie. The sad fact is less than one in a hundred people in every single event like this ever fills in the form,” Mr Moore said.

“There has to be dozens, if not hundreds, of records of this fireball seen on Irish cameras on Sunday night, and to date we’ve only ever received one video report [which was from the 1999 event].”

According to Mr Moore, anyone who happens across a piece of space rock will have a souvenir that’s of more than sentimental value.

“That Loughlinbridge one eventually sold for 10 times the price of gold. If a meteorite doesn’t kill you and it lands in front of you, you’re very lucky!”