Residents of the UK, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Denmark were treated to a huge shooting star when a space rock collided with Earth’s atmosphere last night, September 22. The fireball was so bright it prompted more than 120 people to head to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO) website to report the phenomenon.
Onlookers described the sighting as “beautiful” and unlike “anything I’ve seen before”.
One person, Jason, reported to the IMO: “It had a long blueish tail and then just disappeared whilst I was following it .
“Was like a really bright firework with no noise and was beautiful to see.”
Another person, Daniel, added: “This seemed low in the sky [compared] to anything I’ve seen before.”
John said: “The brightest shooting star/meteor I have ever seen.”
A person called Michael said: “Never seen something so bright and clear and close that lasted so long.”
Due to how long it stayed in the sky, some people believed the fireball was part of the Starlink constellation – SpaceX’s ambitious yet controversial plan to launch 12,000 satellites into Earth’s orbit, with the aim of supplying internet to every corner of the globe.
However, the IMO confirmed it was a space rock.
“Due to the velocity at which they strike the Earth’s atmosphere, fragments larger than one millimetre have the capability to produce a bright flash as they streak through the heavens above.
“These bright meteors are what we call fireballs and they often strike fear and awe for those who witness them.”
Most fireballs burn up in the atmosphere, and very few reach the surface.
The last notable fireball to cause havoc came in 2013, when a 20 metre meteor exploded over the city of Chelyabinsk, Russia.
The blast was so powerful that it smashed windows across the city and injured more than 1,000 people.