Thousands of people across the UK saw a slow-moving meteor fireball on 28 FEB 2021 at 9:54 PM. A fireball meteor is space debris moving through space at incredible speeds. As it encounters resistance from our Atmosphere, it is forced to slow down. This process creates heat, and light is what we see in the night sky.
We received almost 800 witness reports and videos from doorbell and dashboard cameras from witnesses right across the UK. Surprisingly many people reported hearing either a sonic boom or a rumbling noise.
Our camera in Wilcot (Wiltshire) also reported the event. We expect this event to be captured on many more camera systems in the UK and France.
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.
And the same meteor captured on our Chard camera near Exeter.
There is a good chance some material survived the entry and might be found on the ground.
UK Fireball Alliance calculated the meteorite strewn field.
We would like to remind the public that we are still in a national lockdown and ask them not to travel specifically to this area. If anyone local to the area finds any piece of fragments, please do get in touch with either UKMON or National History Museum.
Dr Ashley King of the Natural History Museum and UKFAll said “the video recordings tell us its speed was about 30,000 miles per hour which is too fast for it to be human-made ‘space junk’, so it’s not an old rocket or satellite. The videos also allowed us to reconstruct its original orbit around the sun. In this case, the orbit was like an asteroid’s. This particular piece of asteroid spent most of its orbit between Mars and Jupiter, though sometimes got closer to the Sun than Earth is.”
Dr Sarah McMullan of UKFAll estimates that about 50 tonnes of extra-terrestrial material enters Earth’s atmosphere each year. She says that “Most are sand-sized particles known as cosmic dust, including the most meteors in the Perseid meteor shower that takes place every August. But even over a relatively small land area like the UK, about twenty meteorites probably land each year. Most are barely the size of a sugar cube. However, two or three are bigger, and that’s probably the case with this one. Every few years a much bigger one will arrive”.
Advice from Dr Katherine Joy of the University of Manchester is – “if you do find a meteorite on the ground, ideally photograph it in place, note the location using your phone GPS, don’t touch it with a magnet, and, if you can, avoid touching it with your hands. Pick it up in a clean plastic bag or clean aluminium foil if possible!”