Numerous sightings of a “fireball” crossing the skies over Northern Ireland night have prompted a search for a meteor that may have crashed to Earth.
On the night of November 18 (Tuesday), multiple people, including a BBC reporter and a meteorologist with the Met (weather service) office in County Antrim, witnessed “a fireball as bright as the moon” darting across the night sky.
The Irish Astronomical Association (IAA) has since received many reports from people across Northern Ireland, as have news outlets throughout the island of Ireland.
BBC Northern Ireland reporter Declan Lawn, who spotted the fireball while playing soccer in south Belfast, told BBC Radio Ulster it looked like “a very bright pinpoint with quite a long tail behind it… It took about six seconds to pass over the pitch, going south to north.”
It was possibly a part of the Leonid meteor shower, visible on November 17 and 18.
Ted Moseley, president of the IAA, told the station that the Met meteorologist who saw it was out observing with students at the time, and that they were all amazed.
“It was traveling south east to north east across the sky,” he said. “He described it as ‘bright as the moon,’ which is really remarkably bright. I’ve seen many ones, but never one as bright as that.”
If the fireball was in fact that bright, David Moore of Astronomy Ireland told The Journal, it was very likely a meteor burning up after entering Earth’s atmosphere, and fragments may have survived.
The Irish Astronomical Association has asked the public to send in any sighting information to help them discern the trajectory of the potential meteor and to figure out where it may have landed.