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UK fireball was not 'space junk', experts confirm

Daisy Phillipson

| Last updated 

UK fireball was not 'space junk', experts confirm

A 'fireball' that soared across the sky in the UK earlier this week wasn't 'space junk' after all, according to expert analysis. You can watch it in action in the footage below:


On Wednesday (14 September), hundreds of people reported seeing the unexpected phenomenon and some were able to capture the spectacle on camera.

At the time, no one had a clue what they were seeing, with one writing on Twitter: "Did I legit just see a shooting star in Motherwell or is that something crashing out the sky?"


Another said they'd spotted the mystery 'fireball' flying over Paisley in Scotland at around 10pm.

UK Meteor Network revealed it started receiving reports at 9pm that evening before confirming it had launched an investigation into the sightings.

While many assumed it was a meteor, John Maclean, an astronomer at the network, explained that it was most likely 'space junk' - aka pieces of machinery or debris left by humans in space.

Turns out it WAS a meteor after all. Credit: Twitter/@_vangal
Turns out it WAS a meteor after all. Credit: Twitter/@_vangal

Speaking to The Guardian yesterday (15 September), he said the footage seemed to suggest this to be the case as the 'fireball' was travelling too slowly to be a meteor.

However, new data has led to a complete U-turn on the analysis as taking to Twitter, the UK Meteor Network said it 'was definitely a meteor'.

In a four-part post, the organisation explained: "OK. The final analysis is in! The fireball over NI and Scotland last night was definitely a meteor.

"The fireball observed yesterday (Sept 14, 20:59:40 UT) above the UK lasted over 20 seconds and traveled NW, passing directly over Belfast.


"The end was not observed on our cameras, but it definitely ended over the North Atlantic Ocean some 50-100 km west of the Isle of Islay."

Off the back of the new research, experts concluded that the observed part of the trajectory covered over 300km after entering the atmosphere at 14.2 km/s.

In a follow-up conversation with The Guardian, Maclean said: "We’ve analysed it from many more angles. It is definitely a meteor.


"Probably a small piece of an asteroid that’s broken off an asteroid. It came in at an asteroidal orbit."

The network added in its Twitter updates that if any space rocks did fall, 'they ended up in the ocean'.

"We have a great deal of more data thanks to @meteordoc Denis Vida and we are now 100 percent confident this was a small part of an asteroid," said the team, while pointing to the latest UKMON data which you can see here.

Featured Image Credit: Twitter/@RhiannonHayes12

Topics: Space, UK News

Daisy Phillipson
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