POLICE received concerned calls after a large fireball that is thought to have been a meteor was spotted in the night sky.
Reports of a “bright light” and an “orange glow” were received by police across Scotland and the north of England.
A Durham Police spokeswoman said a number of calls came in around 9.45pm on Saturday from concerned members of public who had seen a “bright light or a fire in the sky” and believed it may have been incidents involving an aircraft.
“It has been confirmed with air traffic control that there are no incidents of aircraft in difficult and nothing registered on radar,” she said.
“The sightings are believed to be either an asteroid burning out or similar which has been restricted to the upper atmosphere only.”
The Met Office tweeted: “Hi All, for anyone seeing something in the night sky, we believe it was a meteorite.”
The Kielder Observatory also reported the sighting of a “huge fireball” travelling from north to south over Northumberland at 9.41pm.
The Observatory posted on Twitter: “Of 30 years observing the sky #fireball best thing I have ever seen period.”
Meteors are particles from space that burn up in a streak of light as they enter the Earth’s atmosphere, whereas meteorites are larger objects that survive the trip and reach the surface of the Earth.
Dr David Whitehouse, an author and astronomer, said the object was about the size of a fist and was probably the debris of a planet that never properly formed.
“It’s a chunk of rock that’s probably come from somewhere between Mars and Jupiter has been in space for thousands of millions of years,” he added.
“There are tens of thousands of bits of rock and grains of sand orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Some of it comes out of that orbit and some of it hits the Earth.”
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