Bright fireball seen over UK on 28 February

Over 1000 reports have now been received about the fireball that occurred over the UK on Sunday 28 February. Experts are predicting that any meteorites from the event would have fallen near Cheltenham.

The fireball occurred at around 9:55 pm on Sunday. Within minutes, reports started to come in to the International Meteor Organisation, which collates fireball reports around the world. The SPA’s own fireball report form feeds into this network, as do those of other similar groups. Details were sent in from as far afield as Northern Ireland and Belgium, as shown on the graphic below.

Locations of reporters of the fireball. Click to view page.

With many reports, it was quickly possible to establish that the event took place over Gloucestershire. Meteor cameras operated by the UK Meteor Observation Network (UKMON) gave more precise details, and established a more precise trajectory:

Trajectory of the 28 February fireball from the UK Meteor Observation Network

This shows the object travelling from west to east, starting at an altitude of about 65 km and ending at an altitude of about 20 km to the east of Gloucester. The red zone shows the area over which any objects from the fall may have dropped.

Richard Kacerek of UKMON says that “Moving relatively slow, compared to other fireballs and meteors we seen in past, it is still moving faster than anything human-made. We think it was a softer cometary or asteroidal material, and there is a definite fragmentation in the second half of the flight.

“There is a good chance some material survived the entry and might be found on the ground.”

However, anyone finding a suspicious-looking object that is clearly different from local stones is requested not to touch it or hold a magnet to it but to first photograph it in situ and then bag it in a clean plastic bag or aluminium foil. If you find anything, get in touch with the Natural History Museum.