A bright green meteor flashed across the British skies, amazing Britons across a vast area, from Hampshire all the way up to Stafford, and perhaps further. According to witnesses, the green object flashed across the sky, moving south to north for just a couple of seconds.
The celestial object, which probably burnt up before hitting the ground, left a magnesium-white trail behind it.
According to the UK Meteor Observation Network, the sighting, which also included witnesses in the east coast of England, occurred at about 03:16 GMT.
Paul Gilbert tweeted this picture of the meteor. (Image: twitter.com/PaulGilbertDj)
St. Patrick’s day meteor
Several people on Twitter, Facebook and other social media online networks were quick to comment on the meteor’s green colour, which had to mean that it was a St. Patrick’s Day phenomenon.
The UK Meteor Observation Network (UKMON), which described the object as a fireball, said its camera at Church Crookham station spotted it at 3:16 on Thursday morning.
UKMON wrote on its website:
“It momentarily overloaded the camera with light and with second video we will be able to triangulate and calculate the orbit soon.”
“Preliminary calculations estimate the brightens to be around -7 mag and explosion -14 mag. The event lasted just a couple of seconds. Turns out that many UKMON’s cameras captured the event than previously thought, 8 cameras in total.”
— Paul Gilbert (@PaulGilbertDj) 17 March 2016
In an interview with the BBC, Richard Kacerek, from UKMON, said:
“This is the biggest meteor sighting we have recorded. It lasted for a few seconds. It was seen for hundreds of miles. We have received a number of emails.”
“It’s still very early to say where it came from but later we will be looking at footage from our other camera in the north of the country and analysing the data to determine more about its origins and intensity.”
UKMON has asked for people to complete its Fireball Report Form if they saw this meteor.
Difference between meteor and meteorite
Meteors and meteorites are not the same. They are both objects that enter our planet’s atmosphere from space.
However, meteors – which are usually pieces of comet dust – burn up before reaching the Earth’s solid surface (the ground). As they vaporize, they leave behind fiery trails we call ‘shooting stars’, even though meteors are not stars.
A meteorite is a meteor that makes it to the ground – it has not burned up completely in the atmosphere.
Put simply, a meteor is the object flying across the sky, while a meteorite is whatever reaches the ground.
According to the American Meteor Society, a fireball is:
“Another term for a very bright meteor, generally brighter than magnitude -4, which is about the same magnitude of the planet Venus in the morning or evening sky.”
Video – Fireball seen over British skies
UKMON’s camera in Sidmouth recorded this spectacular fireball on 17 March at 3:16AM.