Video: Large green 'fireball' meteor seen shooting across sky above England and Wales

Fist-sized fireball likely to be formed from debris from Halley's Comet

People from as far afield as Cornwall and Lancashire have reported  seeing a green-tinged meteor hurtling across the night sky.

The 'fireball' shot over England and Wales in a northerly direction at around 9.45pm last night, with sightings reported in Cornwall, Hampshire, Lancashire, South Wales and Worcestershire.

Experts believe that the meteor was formed from debris from Halley's Comet and that it was probably only the size of a clenched fist. The green hue is likely from copper inside.

Suzy Buttress, of Basingstoke in Hampshire, said she spotted the celestial body while driving along the M3.

She wrote on Twitter: "I have just seen the biggest meteor in my life! It was also noticeably green, and appeared very large compared to regular meteors I've seen."

Louise Darnell also reported the unusual event on the social networking site.

She wrote: "Seen the brightest and lowest shooting star ever! It was definitely a UFO..??"

Reports suggested the meteor crossed Britain from the South East towards the North West.

Space scientist Maggie Aderin-Pocock said the meteor's size was unusual.

"It seems that this one was particularly large and particularly bright, which is why it's caught so much attention," she told the BBC.

"It's quite likely to be part of the Eta Aquarids, which is the debris left by Halley's Comet. And twice a year we pass through the debris left behind by the comet and when this happens we see more of these shooting stars, but there must have been a large lump left behind which is what caused such a bright meteor to be seen."

Dr Aderin-Pocock said last night's shooting star would have travelled at speeds of around 150,000mph.

"When something like that hits the atmosphere, it burns up really brightly," she said.

"What was unusual about the thing last night is that usually shooting stars are quite small.

"This was quite a large lump passing through the atmosphere so it made quite a large shooting star."

The fireball would have been one of a number of shooting stars that crossed the sky last night, as the Earth passed through a trail of dust left by Halley's Comet - an event which occurs twice each year.

Star-gazers can expect to see further meteors - around 10 an hour - streaking through the sky until May 20, Dr Aderin-Pocock said.

However, they are likely to decrease in intensity and will only be visible at night and when the skies are relatively clear.

Marek Kukula, public astronomer at the Royal Observatory Greenwich, said the fireball could have measured up to several metres in diameter and suggested it might have come from the asteroid belt rather than Halley's Comet.

"It was probably a fairly hefty chunk of rock, maybe football-sized, up to a few metres in size," he said.

"Fireballs like these are rare. Usually these things are the size of a grain of sand.

"Very often they burn up before they hit the ground. Without more information it is difficult to say exactly how big this one was or what happened to the remains. It is possible that some bits landed, either in the UK or the North Sea."

He said the fireball's trajectory meant it was unlikely to have ever been part of Halley's Comet.

"My guess is that this was a random meteor," he added. "It could have been a small chunk of asteroid, from the asteroid belt, that has been floating around the Solar System for billions of years and, just last night, it happened to get burnt up in our atmosphere.

"So last night would have been the end of a very long story for it which ended in a spectacular light show."

Dr Kukula said the meteor was likely to have been tens of kilometres above ground when it was spotted.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Sport
New Real Madrid signing James Rodríguez with club president Florentino Perez
transfersColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
Arts and Entertainment
Stir crazy: Noel Fielding in 'Luxury Comedy 2: Tales from Painted Hawaii'
comedyAs ‘Luxury Comedy’ returns, Noel Fielding on why mainstream success scares him and what the future holds for 'The Boosh'
Life and Style
Flow chart: Karl Landsteiner discovered blood types in 1900, yet scientists have still not come up with an explanation for their existence
lifeAll of us have one. Yet even now, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Arts and Entertainment
'Weird Al' Yankovic, or Alfred Matthew, at the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival Screening of
musicHis latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do our experts think he’s missed out?
Travel
Hotel Tour d’Auvergne in Paris launches pay-what-you-want
travelIt seems fraught with financial risk, but the policy has its benefits
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Teaching Assistant

£12024: Randstad Education Leeds: Teaching Assistant September 2014 start - te...

Physics Teacher

£130 - £162 per day + UPS: Randstad Education Hull: Physics Teacher Long Term ...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn