Popular Astronomy

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Fri, 27 Dec 2013 - Daylight fireball at 07:58 GMT on Dec 19th

Many people witnessed a bright fireball seen just before 8am on the morning of Thursday 19th December.

The first reports received were from Jeff Powell in Norfolk and from Helen Critchell in Cambridgeshire. Both saw the fireball start in their western sky and move towards the eastern half of the sky with a duration of 1-2 seconds. Additional reports were reported later by Jonjo Evans (Shropshire), Peter Urwin (Edinburgh), Andy Thomas (Leicestershire), Mr Suzuki (Leicester) and Basil Spooner (Fishguard). These, together with two images of the fireball (see later), allowed the fireball direction to be more clearly defined as heading roughly north east.

The timing of the fireball meant that it was seen by many people travelling to work or walking their dogs.

There are numerous mentions of the fireball on Twitter with descriptions such as:

"wow just seen a meteor with long trail"

"7.58am Gu22. very bright meteor streaked across the light blue sky"

"just seen a meteor streak overhead"

"in broad daylight I just saw a meteor fall from the sky"

"Think I saw a comet at 8am over lanarkshire"

"WHOA Did anyone see that bright meteor in the north at about three minutes to eight"

"Just in the garden and something fantastic shot over the sky in Atherton, Mancs"

"Daylight #meteor to the north of Chelmsford at about 8am. Looking for 3 wise men now"

Although these short tweets give little positional information in the sky (which would have been difficult in daylight anyway), they do give an indication as to how much of the UK the fireball was seen over.

The list of locations mentioned was: Crayford (Kent), Byfleet, Chelmsford, Cambs/Essex, Guildford, Burton on Trent, Derbyshire, Bedfordshire, Milton Keynes, Shropshire, Telford, Manchester, Blackpool, Gloucestershire, Newport (South Wales), Llanferres (North Wales), Lanarkshire, East Lothian, West Lothian, Dublin bay.

The timing of the fireball was slightly unfortunate in that it occurred after most of the automated fireball monitoring cameras had been switched off at the end of the night. Fortunately, however, two cameras of the NEMETODE network, operated by William Stewart (Cheshire) and Alex Pratt (Leeds), were still active and each recorded a segment of the fireball's path. Using triangulation, they have determined that the fireball started over the north midlands and headed in a north easterly direction. Since neither image showed the end of the fireball, they were unable to determine the end point. However, the visual reports received suggest that the end point was probably over the North Sea. For further details, see


Added by: Tracie Heywood