'Fireball' sparks concern in UK

2012-03-04 14:28

London - A meteor spotted over northern England and Scotland sparked a flood of worried calls to authorities about a possible aeroplane in distress, officials said on Sunday.

Witnesses reported seeing a "bright light or a fire in the sky," at around 22:45 on Saturday, said a spokesperson for police in Durham, northern England.

But air traffic control said there were no reports of aircraft in difficulty and the country's national weather service, the Met Office, said it believed the "fireball" was a meteor.

Astronomer David Whitehouse said the object was about the size of a fist and was probably the debris of a planet that had never properly formed.

"It's a chunk of rock that's probably come from somewhere between Mars and Jupiter and has been in space for thousands of millions of years," he said.

Meteors are particles from space that burn up in a streak of light as they enter the Earth's atmosphere, whereas meteorites are larger objects that survive the trip and reach the surface of the Earth.

"Of 30 years observing the sky #fireball best thing I have ever seen period," the Kielder Observatory, in northern England, posted on Twitter.

- SAPA
Read more on:    england  |  scotland  |  space  |  astronomy
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