Fireball seen over UK confirmed as meteor after day of confusion | Meteors

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A fireball seen in many parts of the northern UK has been confirmed to be a meteor after a day of confusion over its identity.

The fireball was visible over northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as it blazed into the clear night sky just after 10pm on Wednesday evening.

It traveled 300km over Wales, the Irish Sea and Belfast before crashing into the Atlantic near Islay, according to new calculations by the UK Meteor Network.

The network’s initial calculation suggested it was space junk that could have come from Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite program. But he withdrew that theory after collecting more data.

John Maclean, a network astronomer, said: “We analyzed it from many other angles. It’s definitely a meteor. Probably a small piece of asteroid that broke off from an asteroid. He arrived in an asteroidal orbit.

He added: ‘We think it probably ended 50-100km off Islay. It will be at the bottom of the ocean now.

He said the fireball was initially mistaken for space junk because it was moving slower than a typical meteor, and videos of the sighting suggested it had shattered higher and earlier. than a meteor.

He said: “The speed and the way we break it down is what turned us off initially. It was quite slow, which is more consistent with space junk, so too slow for a meteor.

“The speed was 31,950 mph, which is more consistent with space junk. Hence our initial thoughts.

On Thursday morning, Maclean had speculated that the fireball was a spent Starlink satellite burning up in the atmosphere as expected.

But later he said, “We went out and looked at all the possibilities of space junk. There wasn’t one that could give us space junk. It was definitely not SpaceX. There were two Starlink satellites that needed to be de-orbited, but they wouldn’t have come down near the UK. They descended over North America.

The network received about 800 sightings of the fireball. Maclean said: “Most people who saw it probably had a rare experience. The speed of this one and the way it separated was a little weird.

In a statement, the network said: “The fireball over Northern Ireland and Scotland last night was definitely a meteor. The fireball seen over the UK yesterday has lasted over 20 seconds and moved northwest, passing directly over Belfast.

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