The sight of this meteor shooting across the night sky sparked fears that a passenger jet was about to crash – then triggered a treasure hunt.
Astronomers are desperate to track down the remnants of the meteor, which was witnessed from the North of Scotland to the South of England as it entered the Earth's atmosphere at about 9.40pm on Saturday. Orange with a green tail, it is thought to have travelled at up to 90,000mph and been somewhere between a football and a family car in size.
Police received calls from people who feared an aircraft was on fire. Fragments from the meteor could contain debris from the birth of the solar system 4.5 billion years ago – and be worth more than their weight in gold.
Witnesses are being urged to help scientists trying to calculate where it would have landed. Dr Marek Kukula, public astronomer at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, said it is likely that the meteor was once part of the asteroid belt.
"Our own origins are locked up in these pieces of rock," he said. "They are pristine material from the beginning of the solar system, and... hold the ingredients of life. They are a real treasure-trove."Reuse content