‘Fireball’ spotted in sky over Northern Ireland

A “fireball as bright as the moon” has been spotted moving across the sky above Northern Ireland, according to the Irish Astronomical Association.

IAA president, Terry Moseley, said the sighting was reported by member of the association who works at the Met Office in County Antrim on Tuesday evening.

Mr Moseley said it could be a piece of space rock – part of an asteroid – burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.

A number of other people also contacted the BBC to report seeing the fireball.

‘Long tail’

They included BBC Northern Ireland reporter Declan Lawn, who was playing football at a pitch in south Belfast when he saw a bright object, resembling a flare, travelling through the sky.

He described it as having “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,” the reporter told BBC Radio Ulster.

“We all assumed it was a firework that hadn’t properly gone off, because there was no noise.”

‘Shooting star’

BBC Radio Ulster listener Janice MacArthur said: “I was leaving work at Clarendon Dock, Belfast, when in the sky I saw what looked like a shooting star”.

She said it appeared “very low to to the ground” and seemed to be travelling towards the docks area of the city.

Ms MacArthur said she was “very excited to have seen this”.

Schoolboy Sam Buller said he was taking his dog out of his family home in the hills above Hollywood, County Down, when he suddenly saw “a glow” in the sky.

‘Pretty cool’

The 12-year-old Campbell College pupil said: “I thought it was a shooting star at first and then it disappeared into the distance.”

“It was pretty cool,” Sam said.

According to Mr Moseley, the Met Office security cameras at Aldergrove are being checked to find out if any pictures of the object have been recorded.

The meteorologist reported seeing the fireball at about 17:30 GMT.


Mr Moseley told BBC Radio Ulster: “He was out observing with a group of students and they all saw it. So it was travelling south east to north east across the sky.

“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 myself.”

Mr Moseley appealed to members of the public to report any sightings of the fireball to the IAA.

“Then if a piece of it actually landed and it becomes a meteorite, then the more reports we have of where people saw it, what direction, from as many different people as possible, that enables us to try and work out the trajectory and find out where it might have landed.”


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