Thames Valley: Meteor Amazes Stargazers
9 May 2013, 09:48
Witnesses in the Thames Valley have described watching a green-tinged meteor flash across the evening sky.
The "fireball'' shot over England and Wales in a northerly direction at around 9.45pm yesterday.
Experts believe the meteor might have formed from debris from Halley's Comet. Many observers took to Twitter to report the phenomenon with sightings apparently recorded in Cornwall, Hampshire, Lancashire, South Wales and Worcestershire.
Suzy Buttress from Basingstoke said she spotted the celestial body while driving along the M3. She wrote on Twitter: "I have just seen the biggest meteor in my life! It was also noticeably green, and appeared very large compared to regular meteors I've seen.''
Louise Darnell also reported the unusual event on the social networking site. She wrote: "Seen the brightest and lowest shooting star ever! It was definitely a UFO..??''
Reports suggested the meteor crossed Britain from the South East towards the North West.
Space scientist Dr Aderin-Pocock said last night's shooting star, though unusually large, was likely to have been no bigger than a closed fist and would have travelled at speeds of around 150,000mph.
"When something like that hits the atmosphere, it burns up really brightly,'' she said. "What was unusual about the thing last night is that usually shooting stars are quite small.
"This was quite a large lump passing through the atmosphere so it made quite a large shooting star.''
She said the green or blue flame emitted suggested there was copper in the meteor. The fireball would have been one of a number of shooting stars that crossed the sky last night, as the Earth passed through a trail of dust left by Halley's Comet - an event which occurs twice each year.
Star-gazers can expect to see further meteors - around 10 an hour - streaking through the sky until May 20, Dr Aderin-Pocock said.
However, they are likely to decrease in intensity and will only be visible at night and when the skies are relatively clear.