UFO gives a dazzling show in night skies
Mystery flares, now thought to be from space junk, cause public panic
Susie Mesure writes interviews, news and features for the Independent on Sunday, Independent and i, and has done for the last ten years or so give or take two lengthy maternity leaves. She is interested in just about any topic, especially anything Scandinavian, food, or consumer-orientated, and used to be the Independent’s Retail Correspondent
Sunday 23 September 2012
Thousands of people across the UK were treated to a spectacular light show in the night sky on Friday, prompting scores of calls to police from witnesses who feared they were watching a plane crash or a distress flare. The display, initially believed to be a meteor shower, is thought to have been caused by space junk – debris from spacecraft or satellites – burning up on entry to the atmosphere, experts said yesterday.
Police and coastguards were inundated with calls from shortly before 11pm, some callers worried that an aeroplane had come down.
Reports of the meteor came from as far north as the Shetland Islands, as well as Wales and Norfolk in East Anglia. The objects were also visible in the skies over Northern Ireland.
Craig Usher, 23, a civil engineering student, was taking photos of the North Star at Loch Thom in Scotland when he saw the lights. "I suddenly saw this flash out of the side of my eye and saw a meteor breaking into about 20 pieces," he said.
Tom Heaton, 28, was star gazing with his girlfriend when they saw the display in Galloway Forest Park in Scotland. "It was a one in a million chance we were in just the right place at the right time," he said. "At first I thought a plane had crashed, but then I realised it was a meteor."
The 45-second display caught astronomers by surprise, leaving a question mark over exactly what had caused it. There are hundreds of thousands of fragments from satellites and space rockets orbiting the Earth. Dr Tim O'Brien, associate director of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, estimated the object was 80 miles up, moving at around 18,000 miles an hour.
sportLiverpool 5 Norwich City 1: Uruguayan striker has now scored 11 league goals against the club
arts + entsOlivier-nominated actor and singer is set to star in Lloyd Webber's musical about the Profumo affair
filmWith more than 70 per cent of early films lost, archivists are scouring the world to preserve the precious examples that remain
life + styleClarissa Baldwin is the brains behind the slogan 'A Dog is for Life not just for Christmas'
Autumn Statement 2013: Work until you’re 70 - George Osborne accused of ‘living in fantasy land’ over pension reforms
Nigella Lawson arrives for second day in court after accusing Charles Saatchi of threatening to 'destroy' her with drug claims
Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert
Paul Walker death: Eight-year-old son of Porsche driver Roger Rodas tried to rescue his father
- 1 The hardwired difference between male and female brains could explain why men are 'better at map reading'
- 2 Is this the scariest advert ever? Japanese tyre commercial comes with its own disclaimer and health warning
- 3 A forgotten episode in Russian history leaves links with the Philippines
- 4 Hate With Friends: Now you can find out who your Facebook frenemies are
- 5 ‘Put it in my mouth’: Viewers outraged by apparent reference to oral sex in VIP e-cig advert
£12 - £14 per annum: Morgan Hunt: Morgan Hunt is working in partnership with o...
£69000 - £75000 per annum: Pro-Recruitment Group: Employment Lawyer 1-3 years ...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + On Call Allowance: PCR Recruitment Limited: Micros...
£Negotiable: Citifocus: High calibre individual with a strong understanding o...