Spectacular fireball was meteorite or “space junk” above Sheffield

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AMAZED skygazers saw a huge fireball streaking across the sky last night above Sheffield and the rest of South Yorkshire - believed to have been a meteor or “space junk”, writes Graham Walker.

It sparked emergency calls from some worried folk who were puzzled by the bright light, which broke up before fading away.


Astronomers had not been expecting a meteor shower and there were some suggestions that it could be pieces of space junk breaking up in the atmosphere.

But the Met Office tweeted they believed it had been a meteorite.

Some observers initially feared it was a crashing plane, while some even worried that it could be an alien invasion.

They told how the objects broke up it trasvelled east to west across the sky, leaving an orange and green tail behind it.

It was clearly seen throughout the North of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, with people in Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Blackpool and Dumfries posting tweets of the event around 10.55pm.

Harry Walker, aged 14, of Hoyland, Barmsley, said: “It was incredible. It was a bright fireball with sparks comming off it from behind, like a firework.

“It appeared to be low in the sky and took quite a while to fly across the horizon. It was amazing. We didn’t know what we had seen but then everyone on Twitter was calling it a meteor.”

Twitter users were quick to decribe what they had seen in the sky above Sheffield.

Nik Hood said the meteor shower looked like a firework and described the sight as “amazing”, as did James Biggin.

Sara Bevan was thrilled to see what she described as an “awesome meteor shower - absolutely beautiful!”

Jessica Tuplin said it was “absolutely magical”

Akash Singh Minhas said the meteor looked “hugggggge!” And Elliot Chapman ‏said: “One of coolest things ever.”

Steve Plain and many others first feared it was a plane crashing into the city while Qais Ashfaq said it looked like an alien invasion.

Mark Armstrong questioned whether it could have been space junk re entering the atmosphere as it flew over Broomhill.

Shelley Pollard had been to see Mrs Browns Boys at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena when she saw “ a huge meteor in the sky in Maccy d’s car park Scunthorpe.”

Many more people were disappointed not to see it. Gavin Powers in a tweet said: “The more I read about this space junk/ shooting star / meteor, over Sheffield, the more I wish I’d seen it!”

Philip Brown said: “I must say that I’m rather annoyed to have missed the meteor over Sheffield tonight! @SYP_AirOps are reporting many phone calls.”

The Kielder Observatory in Northumberland reported a “huge fire ball from east at 9.55 UTC heading west mag -6 to -7” and adding there were as many as 100 pieces of fragment in the sky.

“This was an incredible object, different trajectory than March event. Lots of structure, slow moving and displaying colour,’’ said a member of staff.

“Many many fragments maybe in excess of 100 pieces started green went yellow. No sound but long, obvious termination lasted 20-30 seconds.

“What a night.”

Coastguard and police across the country were inundated with calls from shortly before 11pm.

Tim O’Brien, associate director of the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Manchester, said it the object would have probably burned up in the atmosphere.

He said: “It was probably 80 miles up burning as it entered the atmosphere. If anything did come down, it would have landed in the ocean.”

It prompted a flurry of 999 calls from worried members of the public in Scotland last night.

Concerned callers from Airdrie to Arbroath also likened the lights they saw in the sky to flares, fireworks and even a plane crash.

A spokesman for Forth Coastguard said: “From talking to other stations and to the RAF it’s almost certainly meteorite activity.

“Calls came in from all over the place, thick and fast.

“We’ve had people report possible plane crashes, and others the weirdest fireworks they’ve ever seen.

“Folk just haven’t known how to describe what they’ve seen.

“It’s quite extraordinary.”

The spokesman said reports had come from Crail, Johnshaven and Arbroath.

Clyde Coastguard said it had received a “wee flurry” of calls reporting flares seen in Drummore, Airdrie and Brodick on Arran.

A spokeswoman said: “When we get it all over and at the same time then we attribute them to meteorites.

“There was meteorite activity forecast from September 15 to 21.”

Shetland Coastguard said a report of a flare at 11.10pm at Duncansby Head near John O’Groats was thought to be part of the meteorite shower.

Here’s what Sheffield area folk were saying on Twitter:

Nick Mitchell ‏@pedalnationuk Anyone else in Sheffield see the meteor last night. #meteors

Nik Hood ‏@nikihood It appears that I saw a meteor shower last night in Sheffield that looked like a firework! It was AMAZING!

Mr H ‏@MrRyanHindley I saw the meteor and it was bloody amazing - see just over Sheffield Forgemasters at around 10-15 last night x

PJEA Sheffield ‏@pjea_sheffield Anybody see what looked like a meteor last night? It was the brightest thing I’ve ever seen in the night sky. Absolutely amazing.

Steve plain ‏@Consettowl Saw that meteor last night, thought it were a plane going down, then again the windows in the taste of India are loppy #Sheffield

S4S (UK) Ltd ‏@S4Sdental @ArmstrongM: 10:45 ish meteor, space debris sighted from Sheffield, ... Anyone else ??? #meteor” I was near Ecclesall rd went right over us

Quello ‏@devon1up @Gaga_BoyBeliebs I’m in sheffield,, I jus need some info about that meteor thing

David Wright ‏@WrightDW Saw the meteor tonight, from Sheffield. Amazing.

Sara Bevan ‏@BellaBeee33 Awesome meteor shower tonight on the way back from Sheffield, absolutely beautiful!

Gavin Powers ‏@gavpowers77 The more I read about this space junk/ shooting star / meteor, over #sheffield , the more I wish I’d seen it!

mark armstrong ‏@ArmstrongM 10:45 ish meteor, space debris sighted from Sheffield, ... Anyone else ??? #meteor

Akash Singh Minhas ‏@akashzimzimma @Anam_M31 i saw the #meteor in #sheffield, it was hugggggge!

Elliot Chapman ‏@elliotchapman Saw a meteor breaking up over Sheffield. One of coolest things ever. Managed to get a very brief video @SkyNews http://yfrog.us/mb3yqcwvwcqmhncaazahmohcz

Jessica Tuplin ‏@Jessikha1989 Saw the most amazing meteor shower in #sheffield. Was absolutely magical! :)

Chris Dore ‏@christopherdore Anyone know what’s going on with the meteor shower/plane crash/falling satellite above Sheffield??

teetybobs ‏@archerylad @indiaknight I am i am I am ! Saw the meteor on way home from seeing mrs browns boys in Sheffield !!!!

Janine Woodward ‏@Janinexxx @NicNicxxxx Unfortunately it was a meteor not a UFO so no going searching for little green men. We’ll have to stick to humans :( #Sheffield

James Biggin ‏@JamesBigginSCM @SheffieldStar did you see the meteor(?) Over Sheffield / north UK tonight. Guess that is a story you have to run tomorrow? It was amazing.

Sam McNess ‏@Sammcness The meteor/aliens we just saw in Sheffield that was also seen in Scotland and everywhere else! 2012 end of the world? http://pic.twitter.com/Ii3AT572

Philip Brown ‏@BrownPhilip I must say that I’m rather annoyed to have missed the #meteor shower over #Sheffield tonight! @SYP_AirOps are reporting many phone calls 1/2

Stevie H@z✇ ‏@stevie_hazo whats happening in Sheffield? Burning aircraft, BIG meteor in the sky? Need news????

Amanda Smalley ‏@AmandaSmalley_ crazy meteor shower! As if I saw it in sheffield and people all over the country saw it too woooow

dave spooner ‏@DaveStoneface Massive meteor or asteroid or summat over north side of Sheffield high green http://pic.twitter.com/YuL1oKRe

Victoria ‏@beaneee So meteor sightings in Preston, Sheffield and Tyneside. That’s quite a spread.

mark armstrong ‏@ArmstrongM @syptweet we’ve just seen a meteor or something similar over Sheffield ... Have any other sightings been heard of?

James Biggin ‏@JamesBigginSCM @RossWebster_: Just seen a meteor in the sky http://pic.twitter.com/8uE8qOaW” Scotland, you saw it in Scotland!! Wow, we thought it was just Sheffield

Qais Ashfaq ‏@Qais_Ashfaq Some mad stuff goin on in sheffield :l... Pure meteor/shootingstar/AlienInvasion in the sky!.. Who else seen it!?!?.....

James Biggin ‏@JamesBigginSCM @daniellew__x: saw the meteor shower thing, was well weird! http://pic.twitter.com/lxK3s6rx” yes that was what we saw in #sheffield! Wow.

Martin Stephenson ‏@iamhingo Me and @simonengland3 just nearly got hit by either a meteor or satellite near Sheffield. Swear down! Amazing!!!!

mark armstrong ‏@ArmstrongM @SamHollyUK had to be space junk re entering, it burnt up over Sheffield, over Broomhill. Could have been meteor?

Adam Biddiscombe ‏@AdJBid No word of a lie, just seen a meteor hurtling through the sky across Sheffield.

Jack ‏@starmanfish What was that meteor alien comet shooting star over the sky in Sheffield? #SPACE!

Stuart McQueen ‏@StuMcQueen just seen some amazing #lightsinthesky over sheffield looked like a meteor or something burning up in the atmosphere at 10:55 lights sky

Mafaz Abdul Karim ‏@akmafaz I just saw a meteor shower right here in Sheffield!!!

Danny Curran ‏@DannyCurran94 Just seen a meteor across the sky in Sheffield. Was pretty cool man

Stacey Joanne Marie ‏@SJMFord @chloecooling I’m not sure, it looked like a meteor as mad as it sounds. It’s been seen in Sheffield & Leeds too so it might be on the news!

Shelley Pollard ‏@ShelleyPollard What a night watching @MrsBrownsBoys at Sheffield then seeing a huge meteor in the sky in Maccy d’s car park Scunthorpe

Paul ‏@PBrownell2012 Sheffield, please say you saw that asteroid/meteor/I don’t know what fly across the sky and break up!!!

James Fearon ‏@toffeeapple93 defo just saw a meteor in sheffield

mark armstrong ‏@ArmstrongM UFO, meteor, space debris sighted from east bank rd Sheffield, ... Anyone else ???

Walkers ‏@walkers1867 Anyone else just the meteor across Sheffield?

MaccAstro Society ‏@MaccAstroSoc RT @BWestney: Very bright meteor, 19:20 heading approx NNE from Rother Valley country park Sheffield @MaccAstroSoc @mark_humpage

ben westney ‏@BWestney Very bright meteor, 19:20 heading approx NNE from my view at Rother Valley country park Sheffield @VirtualAstro @MaccAstroSoc @mark_humpage