Fireball Sightings 2010

Fireball reports, especially those made from the British Isles and nearby areas, are always welcomed by the SPA Meteor Section. See the Making and Reporting Fireball Observations page on this website for details of what to record on seeing a fireball, where and how to report your data.

Below is a list of some of the fireballs reported to the Section from 2010. It mainly consists of those events seen away from the major meteor shower maxima (when fireballs are more common), unless the objects were not part of the meteor shower in question, or were particularly impressive. A “*” in the ‘Magnitude and Notes’ column indicates further details are given below the table.

An exciting development for Britain during the second half of 2010 was the creation of an all-sky fireball camera system by the University of Hertfordshire. The first camera was set up at the University’s observatory at Bayfordbury in Hertfordshire during 2009 October, and was run on a trial basis from 2009 November to 2010 May. A special report on its successes, including the early meteor captures, is available via the Herts University link above. Additional cameras were added at Hemel Hempstead (Herts) in 2010 July, and near Niton (Isle of Wight) and Cromer (Norfolk) in August. Several single-station Perseid fireballs were captured during 2010 August, and a two-station one on August 10-11, but the first major success for the system as a whole was the recording of a fireball from three stations on September 5-6. (A computer fault meant the data were lost from Hemel Hempstead, unfortunately including details on the meteor’s velocity and duration.) See also this General Chat Forum topic. We are happy to include details of this system here because it has helped confirm some of the fireballs reported to us by other, often visual, witnesses, and is referred to frequently in the notes on this page, often thanks to assistance from the system’s operator and analyst, David Campbell, to whom goes both gratitude, and hope for still more successes in future!

Date Time (UT) Magnitude and Notes Observed from
10/01/8-9 01:07 +/- 2m Very bright* Somerset
10/01/16-17 ~22:45 Bright; 3 reports* Wirral & Shropshire
10/01/23-24 19:40 Bright Co Antrim
10/01/24-25 20:51 -8; multiple reports; imaged* W & N France
10/01/26-27 22:37 -4 Hertfordshire
10/01/30-31 20:45 Bright Wiltshire
10/02/3-4 ~17:55-18:00 -6/-9?; multiple reports* Ireland & N Ireland
10/02/3-4 ~19:30-19:40 Fainter than -5?; several reports* Ireland
10/02/12-13 21:13 +/- 5m -6/-11?; 3 reports* Staffs, Lincs & Co Durham
10/02/15-16 21:57 >-13? Stirlingshire
10/02/17-18 22:37 Bright Co Donegal
10/03/08 ~14:25 Brilliant; in daylight Liverpool
10/03/21-22 20:05 Very bright; 2 reports* Guernsey
10/03/21-22 ~22:00 Very bright; 6 reports* Guernsey & Jersey
10/04/6-7 03:17 -7 Edinburgh
10/04/9-10 20:15 +/- 5m -10?; 2 reports Glasgow & Edinburgh
10/04/11-12 ~04:25 Brilliant Cornwall
10/04/14-15 21:31 -5/-7 Gwent
10/04/16-17 ~21:30-21:45 -5?* Kent
10/04/16-17 21:58-22:00 Very bright; green; 8 reports* S England & NW France
10/04/16-17 22:00-22:03 Bright; green; 2 reports* Norfolk
10/04/16-17 ~23:55 Bright; green* Hertfordshire
10/04/17-18 ~23:00 Bright; green-white Gloucestershire
10/04/23-24 ~22:00 -3* Suffolk
10/04/27-28 20:15 +/- 10m Very bright; 3 reports* S England
10/05/14-15 01:20 Bright; 2 reports; imaged* Warwickshire & Netherlands
10/05/16-17 01:20 Very bright; in clouds E Sussex
10/05/24-25 23:28 -8 Berkshire
10/05/25-26 22:05 Bright Hampshire
10/05/28-29 ~22:30 Bright; 2 reports Co Cork & Gwynedd
10/06/16-17 ~00:01 Bright; very slow* Northamptonshire
10/06/17-18 ~03:30 -4 Surrey
10/06/28-29 23:00 +/- 3m Bright; flared twice Gwynedd
10/06/29-30 23:07 Very bright Conwy
10/06/29-30 ~00:30 Bright Ceredigion
10/07/13-14 ~20:30 Brilliant* Guernsey
10/07/13-14 ~21:00 -9; 3 reports* S England
10/07/18-19 22:16 Brighter than -5; 3 reports; imaged* E England & Netherlands
10/07/20-21 ~22:05 Very bright Carmarthenshire
10/07/27-28 02:04 Very bright; sonic booms? Lincolnshire
10/07/28-29 23:58 -7/-9?; fragmented Cornwall
10/08/4-5 21:10 Bright; 2 reports Shrops & Hants
10/08/4-5 ~22:00 Very bright; 2 reports W Midlands
10/08/7-8 21:40 -5/-6; 2 reports Wilts & Oxon
10/08/7-8 01:16 -9; probable SDA Denbighshire
10/08/10-11 ~20:15 Bright; non-PER Wiltshire
10/08/10-11 22:07 +/- 8m -4/-7; CAP?; 4 reports Bucks, Beds, London & Wrexham
10/08/10-11 00:42 Brighter than -6; PER; 4 reports; imaged* SE England & Isle of Wight
10/08/10-11 01:20 +/- 1m Very bright; PER; imaged* Isle of Wight
10/08/12-13 21:43 +/- 1m -8/-12; PER; 5 reports; imaged* Central-southern England
10/08/14-15 ~04:00 Bright Cumbria
10/08/15-16 02:56 +/- 1m Bright; imaged* Isle of Wight
10/08/23-24 ~20:00 Bright Lincolnshire
10/08/29-30 23:30-23:40 Bright Manchester
10/08/30-31 23:22 Bright London
10/08/30-31 ~02:30 Very bright W Midlands
10/09/4-5 23:27 -5 Somerset
10/09/5-6 00:39 Bright; multiple images* S Britain & Netherlands
10/09/8-9 ~23:00 Bright Hampshire
10/09/15-16 18:45 Full Moon brightness Dorset
10/09/15-16 20:05 Bright; in clouds N Somerset
10/09/17-18 00:55 Bright; 3 reports; imaged* Lincs, Norfolk & Essex
10/09/25-26 ~21:25 Bright Fife
10/09/25-26 ~05:00 Bright Northamptonshire
10/10/2-3 23:38 -7? Warwickshire
10/10/9-10 01:32 Very bright; imaged* Northern Ireland
10/10/11-12 03:44 Very bright; 2 reports; imaged* Herts & Netherlands
10/10/12-13 21:03 +/- 1m Bright; imaged* Isle of Wight
10/10/15-16 01:06:19 Very bright; ORI?; 2 reports; imaged* Herts & Isle of Wight
10/10/16-17 ~00:20 Brilliant Aberdeenshire
10/10/19-20 03:20:49 Bright; ORI; 2 reports; imaged* Herts & Isle of Wight
10/10/19-20 ~06:55 Brilliant; near sunrise; 2 reports* Argyll & Cumbria
10/10/20-21 03:54:00 Very bright; ORI; 2 reports; imaged* Herts & Isle of Wight
10/10/24-25 03:20 Very bright; terminal flare* Edinburgh
10/11/0-1 06:25 -6; green-white Anglesey
10/11/6-7 ~23;40 Very bright; seen from indoors Ross-shire
10/11/7-8 ~17:30 Bright* Hampshire
10/11/7-8 18:05 +/- 2m -8; 3 reports* Hants, Middx & Wilts
10/11/11-12 ~19:00 Bright; fragmented* Hampshire
10/11/11-12 21:58 Very bright; 3 reports; imaged* S & E England & Netherlands
10/11/13-14 00:21 -5; orange; fragmented Gwynedd
10/11/14-15 18:20 Very bright; orange* N Lanarkshire
10/11/14-15 04:55-05:00 Very bright; 2 reports* W Yorks & Somerset
10/11/14-15 ~05:40 Very bright; 24 reports* Scotland & N England
10/11/15-16 17:12 +/- 5m -5/-12; 29 reports* Scotland, England & Wales
10/11/15-16 ~04:00 Brighter than -3; green London
10/11/15-16 05:00-05:15 -6?; fragmented; 2 reports* Staffs & Oxon
10/11/19 08:09-08:10 -6/-8; in daylight; 8 reports* S England
10/11/23-24 21:20 Brighter than -3; yellow-white Warwickshire
10/11/25-26 ~19:00 Very bright; colourful; terminal burst* Oxfordshire
10/11/27-28 ~00:00 Bright Staffordshire
10/11/27-28 02:10 Brilliant; seen from indoors* Devon
10/11/28-29 17:42 +/- 5m -9/-14; 48 reports* Western British Isles
10/11/28-29 ~20:00 Very bright; 2 reports* Cos. Armagh & Derry
10/11/28-29 22:26 -3; very long; left sparks Hampshire
10/12/5-6 ~19:20 Very bright Co. Durham
10/12/8-9 17:36 +/- 5m -8/-11; 76 reports; imaged* Scotland, England & Wales
10/12/9-10 ~15:45 Bright; near sunset* W Midlands
10/12/9-10 ~19:00 Bright Hertfordshire
10/12/9-10 ~20:38 -6/-8; 5 reports; imaged* S England
10/12/10-11 16:30 Bright; green Somerset
10/12/12-13 23:35 Very bright; blue; flare; GEM? Midlothian
10/12/14-15 19:08 -4; GEM? Kent
10/12/14-15 ~22:00 Very bright* Devon
10/12/14-15 06:13 Bright; GEM? Hampshire
10/12/21-22 21:15 Very bright; seen from indoors Perthshire
10/12/23-24 07:20 Bright; fragmented E Lothian

The initial, brief, information on the January 8-9 fireball was on the UK Weather World’s Space Weather Forum.

Two of the three observations of the January 16-17 fireball came from the Wirral peninsula, where the meteor passed almost overhead, and information provided by the lucky witnesses has allowed an approximate atmospheric trajectory to be established for this event, as shown on the accompanying sketch-map by the red arrowed line. It probably flew above parts of north Wales and northern England, on a roughly WSW to ENE track, and was almost grazing the atmosphere, producing a long visible trajectory. The start could not be well-established, but assuming a height of between ~120-100 km altitude suggested the fireball may have first become visible over Caernarfon Bay, about 35 km off the northern Lleyn Peninsula coast of Gwynedd, (likely near 52.9°N, 5.1°W for a ~120 km altitude start – beginning of the dashed line – or 53°N, 4.8°W for a ~100 km start – beginning of the solid line). From there, it passed over the extreme north of mainland Wales, from roughly Caernarfon to Point of Ayr, then across the mouth of the Dee to the northern tip of the Wirral in northwest England (plausibly between West Kirby to Birkenhead), above the Mersey, Liverpool (likely a little south of the city centre) and the Pennines of the Lancs-Yorks border northeast of Manchester-Oldham, and somewhat south of Leeds, to end around 75 km altitude near Mickletown on the River Aire, midway between Castleford and Rothwell southeast of Leeds (above approximately 53.7°N, 1.4°W). Assuming this trajectory was correct would imply the entry angle was very shallow, between ~6° to ~11° from the horizontal, giving an atmospheric path length from ~246 to ~269 km. The observers (red dots) estimated the meteor was visible from 5 to 8 seconds, whose average (~6.5 seconds) indicated an atmospheric velocity, not allowing for deceleration, of ~38-41 km/sec, so about medium-speed on the 11 to 72 km/sec atmospheric velocity scale for meteors. The outlying range for this rough velocity would have been ~31-54 km/sec. Some fragmentation along the path was seen, with the colours noted as mainly yellow or white. The very high end height and the significant fragmentation would both count against any meteorites surviving and being recovered, while the shallow approach-angle made it almost impossible to define where any such falls could have happened; perhaps into the eastern North Sea, the Baltic, or nearby parts of southern Scandinavia, as a best-guess. No reports of any such falls were received, however.

2010 January 16-17 ~22:45 UT Fireball Path
2010 January 16-17 ~22:45 UT Fireball Path

French meteor expert Karl Antier reported the January 24-25 fireball was caught on video from France. The video can be accessed from the appropriate link here. The meteor was seen to the south of Le Havre in northern France, so might have been spotted from southern England too. No UK sightings of it were received, however.

Information regarding the February 3-4 fireballs was somewhat confused, and there may have been three separate events seen from Ireland and/or Northern Ireland before 20h UT that evening. Much of the information came from media reports, suggesting there were “hundreds” of sightings, though a mere three actual observations arrived, plus news that Irish coastguards were alerted after witnesses called-in from four places, some well inland, scattered across central and southwest Ireland. One report each around the earlier timing came from Co Armagh in Northern Ireland, and a little south of Dublin’s city centre in the Irish Republic. The Co Armagh observer saw the object in the northwest to north-northwest sky, while the near-Dublin observer saw the fireball pass behind buildings to the north-northeast, at a similar elevation above the horizon to what the Armagh witness reported for the meteor’s start point. If correct, they would indicate the sightings must have been of different meteors. In turn, that might suggest there were two fireballs, one off northwest Ireland/Northern Ireland, the other off eastern Northern Ireland/northeast Ireland, the neighbouring Irish Sea, or adjacent parts of western Britain, between roughly 17:55-18:00 UT. A further, definitely separate, event, around 19:30-19:40 UT was reported as apparently fainter than the earlier meteor(s), but almost no information other than this reached the Section about it. An initial note was posted on the SPA’s Observing Forum. A fuller discussion, complete with the initial near-Dublin sighting, and ~19:35 UT meteor information, plus other media links, can be found on the UK Weather World’s Space Weather Forum. Claims of a video recording of the ~18h fireball proved false, as this was imaged in 2008 apparently, and in some places online, it was seemingly shown in reverse anyway.

The February 12-13 fireball may have flown high above parts of NW England and/or N Wales, perhaps on a roughly NE-SW trajectory, but it was not possible to define this more exactly. The Staffordshire report can be seen on the UK Weather World’s Space Weather Forum.

Most of the sightings from the Channel Islands on March 21-22 came in the form of brief media reports and online comments only, and the information was not always clear from these as to where some observers were, or what time their sightings were made. Fireball reports reaching the Meteor Section directly from that night suggested there were at least two separate meteors involved, one at 20:05 UT, the other around 22:00, with most people having apparently witnessed the later event. Information on where the objects may have overflown was rather sketchy. The 20:05 fireball may have moved roughly north to south, perhaps over the Cotentin Peninsula, or the southern Channel east of there and over other parts of Normandy in northern France. The ~22:00 meteor may have passed from somewhere east of Jersey to south of that island. Witness’ notes on the events that evening are available on media webpages from Guernsey and Jersey, but note that the media sources, and most early comments, were based on the belief just a single event was involved.

Reports from the witnesses of the April 9-10 fireball suggested the object may have followed a roughly south to north trajectory over eastern Scotland north of the Fife peninsula, perhaps across part of the eastern Grampian Mountains of the “Aberdeen angle”, or the North Sea offshore of there.

Two of the initial sightings of the April 16-17, ~22:00 UT event can be found on the UK Weather World’s Space Weather Forum. That fireball seemed to have been out high above the western Channel, and part of its flight may have been some way offshore of the English coast between roughly Prawle Point in Devon and Lizard Point in Cornwall. Most observers were impressed both by its brilliance and its vivid green colour, though suggestions the colour (and those of the other green fireballs reported that week, assuming all were separate events) may have been due to the thin volcanic ash cloud over and near the British Isles from Iceland at the time, seem to have been without foundation. Bright green, though not common, does occur in meteors, particularly the brighter ones, without any such assistance. The apparently similar fireball around 22h UT seen from Norfolk was reported as observed to the east-southeast from there, and if so, it must have been a different meteor. The ~21:30-21:45 UT event was seen to the northwest, heading north from Kent, so again was clearly a separate fireball. Preliminary notes on the 23:55 UT meteor can be found on the SPA’s Observing Forum.

Notes from the witness of the April 23-24 fireball can be found among the comments regarding the April 16-17 fireballs on the SPA’s Observing Forum.

One of the reports on the April 27-28 fireball suggested an associated sonic boom may have been heard from Shropshire, while the others indicated the object had fragmented during its flight. No information regarding its possible trajectory could be established unfortunately, but if the sonic boom was linked to the meteor, it may have passed over or near southern Shropshire.

The May 14-15 fireball seen from Britain was probably the same as that imaged from the Netherlands by the all-sky fireball camera of Klaas Jobse at Oostkapelle. Red and green colours were recorded visually and on Klaas’ image, for instance. Further investigation suggested the fireball may have flown on a roughly southeast to northwest trajectory above East Anglia, possibly from a point around 90-100 km altitude above central-northern Essex, somewhere from ~10 km south of Colchester to ~20 km west of that city. The last imaged point on the trail, which was almost certainly not the true end, could have been 10 km or so south of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire, at an altitude of ~50 km. Extrapolating from these rough estimates could imply the true end was maybe 45 +/- 5 km altitude above a point ~20 km northwest of Peterborough. Taking these values as approximately correct would compute to an atmospheric path length for the fireball between ~120-125 km, descending at an angle of 20°-30° from the horizontal. The visual observer’s estimate for the event’s duration of three to four seconds inferred an atmospheric velocity for the event, not allowing for deceleration, of ~35 +/- 7 km/sec, thus about medium-speed. These parameters, while merely best-estimates, fitted plausibly within the expected ranges for fireball-class meteors. There is no evidence to suggest a meteorite fall happened following this meteor, but continuing the estimated trajectory to the surface might have suggested an arrival zone roughly on or east of a line from about Nottingham north-northwest to the Leeds area.

A description of the June 16-17 fireball can be found on the Observing Forum.

Though there were similarities between them, and some uncertainty in their timings, it is probable the two July 13-14 fireballs were separate events. That seen from Guernsey was likely high above the Channel, perhaps above the western part of Lyme Bay, or possibly the adjacent parts of Devon. The ~21h UT event was witnessed from Kent, Somerset and Wiltshire, and it too may have happened over the Channel, probably off or over the Dorset coast. It may have been travelling in a direction between roughly E-W to SE-NW, and its path likely fell within about 60 km of a point above the sea ~10-20 km south of Lulworth Cove, Dorset. Its start altitude could have been ~115 +/- 10 km, but the end was too poorly-constrained to suggest a more plausible height range.

The July 18-19 fireball was seen from two separate sites in Suffolk. It was imaged by Klaas Jobse’s automated all-sky camera system at Oostkapelle in the Netherlands, part of the European Fireball Network of camera stations, and by the all-sky Bayfordbury camera belonging to the University of Hertfordshire. The images were quite faint, and Klaas provided an enlarged inset of his, showing the trail in more detail. It was not possible to determine a particularly accurate trajectory for the event, though the probable south to north path may have lain between 100 to 70 km altitude above the southern North Sea, perhaps 35-40 km offshore of the Suffolk coast of East Anglia, as a best-estimate.

August 10-11, at 00:42 UT, brought the Hertfordshire University’s first multi-station fireball capture, a brilliant Perseid, with both the Hemel Hempstead and Niton cameras recording it – despite rain on the lens at Hemel! More famously, it was also caught on video by Peter Meadows in Essex, though the fireball ended off the field of view, an image which has been reproduced in various places since. The video is available on YouTube at six frames per second and one frame per second, and shows the fireball’s persistent train, which remained visible on video for three minutes! A visual observer in Surrey was reported in the 2010 SeptemberThe Astronomermagazine (p. 127) as having seen it detonate in the Square of Pegasus with an iridescent blue-green colour, and confirmed the persistent train was visible with the unaided eye for three to four minutes (with thanks to TA’s Meteor Editor Tony Markham for providing the latter information). Herts University analyst David Campbell was able to derive a trajectory for the meteor as well, showing it flew on a roughly northeast to southwest track high above western Kent to East Sussex. A map of the projected surface track and copies of the three main fireball images can be found in our Report on the 2010 Perseids.

The Herts University camera at Niton caught the ~01:20 UT fireball on August 10-11 too, another excellently bright Perseid, which is also shown in our Report on the 2010 Perseids.

One probable and one possible sighting of the brilliant August 12-13 Perseid fireball can be found on the “Perseids 2010” Observing Forum topic, reported by “UtopiaPlanitia” just northwest of London (posting timed at 22:51 BST on August 12; the automatic time-stamps appeared to be inaccurate compared to actual clock time) and “@@” in the West Midlands (22:13 BST on August 12) respectively. The other lucky visual observers were in Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire. As usual near the Perseid maximum, few people kept a detailed record of precisely where in the sky any fireballs appeared, but assuming the four more probable reports were of the same meteor, it would likely have flown on a roughly NE to SW trajectory high above the Derbyshire-Staffordshire-Shropshire area, or points adjacent. The Hemel Hempstead camera of the Hertfordshire University’s system managed to image it too, if a little weakly. Another 40 UK Perseid fireball reports were received from meteor watches carried out between August 9-10 and 15-16 inclusive, which are not listed here.

A final 2010 Perseid image by the Niton camera belonging to the University of Hertfordshire was captured on August 15-16.

Information calculated from the triangulated trail for the September 5-6 meteor indicated it passed on an ESE-WNW track (the trail heading was towards 275° azimuth), starting at 103 km altitude nearly above Chelmsford in Essex, and ending at 81 km altitude almost above Hertford, just 9 km ENE of the Herts University Bayfordbury camera station! The trail length was 46 km, descending at an angle to the horizontal of 29° (data kindly provided by Hertfordshire University analyst David Campbell). The following links are to the three Herts system images: Bayfordbury, Niton and Cromer (where the trail is just visible slipping into the tree at the bottom). David Campbell also reported the meteor had been imaged by the Cambridge University Institute of Astronomy’s all-sky camera and by Paul Beesken’s all-sky video camera. The trail was recorded too by our old friend Klaas Jobse from Oostkapelle in the Netherlands, and it may have been seen by a lucky witness in near-coastal West Sussex as well.

The Herts University camera at Cromer captured part of the September 17-18 fireball’s image, though the end was outside the camera’s field of view.

Apostolus Christou of Armagh Observatory in Northern Ireland reported the imaging of a very bright fireball on October 9-10 by the Observatory’s specialist meteor cameras. Visual sightings were forwarded from other places in the province to Armagh, all of which suggested the object probably passed high over NW Ireland, ending perhaps around 70-80 km altitude. The atmospheric entry velocity was estimated at between 20-30 km/sec. While proposed as a possible Draconid from its general direction of travel, such an atmospheric entry velocity may have been slightly too high, given that the Draconids’ atmospheric velocity tends to average only ~20 km/sec. For more details, including an image, see the SPA’s General Chat Forum.

Another multi-station fireball success for the University of Hertfordshire’s all-sky camera system was reported by analyst David Campbell from the morning of October 11-12. The Bayfordbury, Herts camera caught a spectacular shot of the meteor despite thin clouds. Although regrettably the other three Hertfordshire University cameras seem to have missed it, veteran all-sky imager Klaas Jobse in the Netherlands at Oostkapelle captured the meteor using his fireball system too. David Campbell reported that an approximate triangulation using both images suggested the meteor was travelling northeastwards high above Sussex.

The Herts University’s Niton camera recorded the October 12-13 fireball.

Hertfordshire University enjoyed further multi-station successes during the 2010 Orionids. The first of three events was a possible Orionid on October 15-16, caught at Bayfordbury (despite some rain on the lens) and Niton. Details of the calculated trajectory included a map and height diagram, with the meteor having passed above the Channel southwest of Isle of Wight, on a roughly ESE-WNW track, ending some way south of The Needles. Trajectory details and maps for the projected surface tracks for all three triangulated potential Orionids, with copies of the images, can be found in our Report on the 2010 Orionids.

The second Herts University triangulated fireball during the Orionids was a probable Orionid on October 19-20 at 03:20 UT, again captured at Bayfordbury and Niton. This object’s trajectory was entirely over land, as it shot generally SSE-NNW above western West Sussex and eastern Hampshire. Trajectory details and maps for the projected surface tracks for all three triangulated potential Orionids, with copies of the images, can be found in our Report on the 2010 Orionids.

A few hours later, around or soon after sunrise on the morning of October 20, a notably brilliant event occurred for NW Britain. The meteor seemed to have been moving on a roughly west to east track, and was likely high above Northern Ireland, the North Channel-Firth of Clyde area and probably the adjacent land of southwest Scotland, though no more accurate trajectory could be estimated for it.

A final triangulated Orionid for the Hertfordshire University cameras was on October 20-21, recorded at Hemel Hempstead and Niton (despite some clouds). This event was entirely above the Channel, a long way south of Beachy Head, trending generally SSE-NNW, as demonstrated on the trajectory’s webpage. Trajectory details and maps for the projected surface tracks for all three triangulated potential Orionids, with copies of the images, can be found in our Report on the 2010 Orionids.

The initial report of the October 24-25 fireball can be found on the SPA’s General Chat Forum.

There may have been two separate bright fireballs seen from sites in southern England on the early evening of November 7-8. The first, probably around 17:30 UT, was seen to the west from the south coast near Portsmouth, moving roughly south to north. The second, observed from three places and timed to within a couple of minutes either side of 18:05 UT, was seen to the south from Middlesex, heading southeastwards from there, so must have been a different object. Both fireballs were relatively slow-moving/long-lasting, each remaining visible for up to five seconds, with the earlier event described as yellow-white in colour, the later blue-white or orange. All the observers of the ~18:05 meteor noted it as having fragmented later in its flight, producing red-orange pieces. Taking the approximate directions of motion as correct would suggest both were likely sporadics, and the early evening hours are statistically the time of day when most sporadic fireballs happen. (This seems to be a real effect, rather than that more people tend to be outdoors at the start of the night than later.) The initial Wiltshire sighting and some additional comments on both meteors can be found on the Observing Forum.

A brief note on the ~19h UT fireball on November 11-12 first appeared among the online discussions regarding the fireballs of November 15 (see below) on the UK Weather World’s Space Weather Forum (see the posting by “Lex Ray” from November 15). A later fireball, vaguely stated as having occurred only “in the early hours” of November 12, was reported from Dundee on the BBC News’ website discussion of events on November 15. Its magnitude could have been around -5 to -9, and it was described as blue-green in colour.

Another impressive fireball was caught by the University of Hertfordshire’s all-sky camera at Cromer, at 21:58 UT on November 11-12. Though no other cameras in the network captured this event, it was also imaged by Klaas Jobse operating his European Fireball Network camera from the Netherlands. Klaas’ image showed the fireball as green-blue in colour. The Hertfordshire University analyst David Campbell indicated the event was high over the North Sea off the English coast, heading roughly northwest, so towards Britain. He also noted that the fireball’s persistent train was visible on the next two successive frames taken by the Cromer camera. As each exposure lasted two minutes, that could imply the train remained visible to the camera for more than three to four minutes. An animation of the three images is the best way to view the mist-like train and see how it drifted with time, while the individual train images are here and here. Two lucky visual witnesses at the same place in Buckinghamshire seemed to have spotted the fireball visually too, from indoors! More comments on this event, with a cut-down animation of the fireball and its train are on the Observing Forum.

Several fireball sightings from November 14-15 and 15-16 came to light as part of the online discussions regarding the two more widely-seen events on November 15, which latter are detailed separately below. These sightings included those on November 14-15, at 18:20 (e-mail note by “Chris, Cumbernauld” on the BBC News webpage), and one of the 04:55-05:00 reports (from “Shaun, Taunton, Somerset”, also on the BBC News webpage), plus both sightings from 05:00-05:15 UT on November 15-16 (postings by “Halo” and “corrdog” on November 16 among the UK Weather World’s Space Weather Forum notices).

The first of the widely-observed fireballs on November 15 occurred around 05:40 UT on November 14-15. It was reported from places all across mainland Scotland, between Moffat in Dumfries & Galloway north to Durness on the north Highland coast, and from Prestwick by the Ayrshire coast in the west to near Peterhead in Aberdeenshire on the east, as well as in northern England, south as far as the southern shores of Morecambe Bay, Lancashire. A possible 25th report of this meteor was made from Derbyshire too, but this could not be confirmed. Unfortunately, few people were able to provide details on where the object had appeared in the sky for them, so the information derived on where the meteor flew over could be determined only tentatively. However, its visible flight may have begun high above the North Channel, off The Rhins peninsula of western Dumfries & Galloway, or over north to eastern Northern Ireland. It seemed to have headed roughly north from there, and may have ended above Easter Ross in Highland or somewhere further north, perhaps over the sea. The path may have been angled quite shallowly to the surface, which potentially near-grazing trajectory could have helped account for the long track, possibly more than 350 km. Seven observers reported definite fragmentation occurred, probably quite late in the flight, into up to four main pieces and a lot of smaller ones resembling sparks. Not everyone confirmed this, in some cases because the late flight was unobserved, but in others, likely because the observing angle to the trail concealed the fragmentation event(s). Various colours were reported for the main meteor, with most people who noted them (47%) favouring white, followed by green (18%), orange (17%), yellow (12%), and red (6%). Colours in the fireball’s tail, where different to the head and possibly including the fragments in some cases, were yellow, orange and red (29% each) or green (13%). Many of the initial sightings came from messages posted to the BBC News webpage for the November 15 fireballs. Further early discussion and links can be found among postings to the SPA’s “Leonids 2010” Observing Forum topic, and also on the UK Weather World’s Space Weather Forum.

Less than twelve hours later, the second widely-reported UK fireball happened on the early evening of November 15-16, around 17:12 UT. Sightings came from across much of England, south Wales and central to northern Scotland, from Somerset and Surrey in the south to the Black Isle of eastern Highland in the north. Although more people than for the ~05:40 meteor were able to give information on where the object had appeared in the sky, no consensus was found on where the fireball may have been in the atmosphere from these details. However, its start was plausibly high above northwest England, probably over south-central Cumbria, perhaps around the Kendal-Windermere area or nearby. It seemed to have followed a generally east to west trending path from there, or one closer to ENE to WSW, to a likely end-point above the Irish Sea off the Lancashire-Cumbria coasts, or over the Isle of Man. Taking the atmospheric path-length as roughly 100-120 km, and the average estimated total visible flight time (12 reports) as 2.3 seconds, suggested an atmospheric velocity, not allowing for deceleration, of ~43-52 km/sec, so about fast-medium speed on the typical meteor scale, if correct. Nobody reported seeing any significant fragmentation. Its peak brightness was probably in the magnitude range -8 to -12, or a little brighter. The colours reported included white and green (32% each), blue (18%), orange (11%) and yellow (7%). Again, some of the initial sightings with additional comments and discussion can be found via the three web-links given for the November 14-15, ~05:40 UT event above.

The daylight fireball of November 19 may have had a roughly WNW to ESE path high above Warwickshire-Leicestershire to perhaps the Cambridgeshire-Essex-Suffolk region of East Anglia. No more accurate trajectory could be established, unfortunately. If the meteor’s path was very approximately 150 km long, the average visible time for the fireball’s flight of 3.7 seconds would have suggested an atmospheric velocity, not allowing for deceleration, of ~40 km/sec, so about medium speed for a meteor. Colours reported were predominantly white, sometimes with green or blue. Definite observations of this event were made from Bucks, Beds, Oxon, west and south London and Hants. A ninth observation may have been made from south Glasgow, but this could not be confirmed. Several initial reports were located via the “UK UFO Sightings” webpage, following an alert from one of the witnesses reporting to the SPA directly. Note that some of these were apparently written after assuming the meteor was actually an unknown aerial vehicle.

Preliminary sighting notes for the November 25-26 fireball are in a posting by “Netto” from November 27 on the Observing Forum.

See the UK Weather World’s Space Weather Forum for the report on the 02:10 UT November 27-28 fireball.

Closing a month replete with multi-site fireballs in 2010, the main event on November 28-29 happened in the early evening, probably within about five minutes of 17:42 UT. It was widely-seen from places across Northern Ireland and Eire, Wales and northwest England, west as far as Bolton in Lancashire and Shrewsbury in Shropshire. Thanks to details rapidly published online by Armagh Observatory, who collected the vast majority of the Irish and Northern Irish sightings, and excluding duplicates but including sightings sent to the Meteor Section directly, at least 48 separate reports were received of this meteor. Three more may have been of this event too, but contained too few details to be certain. Two of the Armagh list’s reports were of the ~20:00 UT fireball instead, for which unfortunately no other details could be derived. An initial review of the early data received at Armagh was published online, with a call for more observations, especially any images caught by CCTV security cameras. A more detailed examination of the visual sightings received by the SPA has regrettably been unable to significantly improve the initially quite vague idea of where the meteor may have overflown, as the data available did not allow a clear, single solution. It seems likely this was because very few people saw either the start or end of the complete trail (fourteen reports specifically mentioned the end as behind clouds, trees or rooftops), and the fact the atmospheric trajectory seemed to have been unusually long, and long-lasting. As a best-guess though, the meteor may have first become visible somewhere high above central to NE Scotland, or over the North Sea off the Scottish east coast perhaps between St Abb’s Head and Aberdeen. Its visible end-point was probably over the Atlantic some distance off the Co. Mayo, Eire, coast west of Donegal Bay, or possibly further south. It is likely the only land the fireball flew over was central or northern Scotland and perhaps some of the Western Isles. This could imply an atmospheric trajectory in excess of 600-650 km, if correct. An unexpectedly large range of visible flight-time estimates was made – between 1.5 to 2 seconds at the shortest to 30 seconds at the longest! This scatter was another factor in suggesting few people apparently saw the whole flight. Most estimates (74%) ranged from 3-15 seconds, with more than half (52%) favouring 5-10 seconds. However, 18% of the estimates still fell between 15-30 seconds. Assuming the long atmospheric path was right could have suggested timings in excess of 10 seconds may indeed have been more accurate. Even a meteor near the upper end of the usual 11-72 km/sec trajectory range for meteoric atmospheric-entry velocities, would have needed 8 to 9 seconds to accomplish a ~600-650 km flight, for instance. The fireball was commonly described as quite comet-like, with a distinct, round head and a narrower following tail. Another large scatter was apparent in the colours described as seen in this main meteor and its tail. The percentages of each colour-class from those who mentioned colours at all were as follows. Head or whole fireball: White 27%, orange 20%, green 18%, yellow 14%, blue 14%, red 7%. Tail: Red 27%, orange 23%, white and green 14% each, yellow and purple/violet 9% each, and blue 4%. Sixteen reports mentioned some kind of fragmentation occurred, probably quite late in the flight, with many favouring quite small pieces being involved, often like sparks. However, two people who claimed to have followed the meteor to its end were equally clear that no fragmentation had happened at all. For once, there was consistency in that nobody reported hearing any sounds they associated with the meteor.

Report continues here.

2 thoughts on “Fireball Sightings 2010

  • 4th October 2019 at 9:55 pm

    Just seen a big meteor burn up over morecambe bay

    • 6th October 2019 at 9:33 am

      Hi rob, can you email more details to meteor at If you can let me know your approx location, direction in which you saw the fireball and the rough time i may be able to connect it with any other sightings.


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