Sightings Of Fireball Reported Across Leinster

Astronomy Ireland has confirmed to The Meteo Times (TMT) that it has received some reports of a fireball or particularly bright meteor spotted last night (Wednesday) over Leinster. 

The Meteo Times has also received numerous reports via Twitter and Facebook from people in counties Dublin, Meath, Kilkenny and Kildare who reported seeing a streak of light racing across the sky followed by a bright flash at around 10:00 PM. The skies over the east of Ireland were largely clear at the time.

A very bright fireball may suggest a large piece of debris, meaning that it may have survived entry into Earth's atmosphere and landed on the surface. Only two meteotites have been found on the island since the beginning of the 20th century: 1969 in Northern Ireland and 1999 in County Carlow.

Conor Farrell of Astronomy Ireland stated: “We are inviting further reports via our website so that we can analyse the object.”

Among the people who commented on the TMT Facebook page was Shane Vaughan who said: " Just coming back from a match and parked the car in the drive way and looked up, seen it fly through the sky by the time I had the iPhone out to take a pic it was gone to far. Looked like it was going Ratoath/Dunshaughlin direction I think...Have to say it was amazing."

Aisling Carey in Leixlip said: "My Aaron ran in last night with his friends screaming mam we seen a ufo honestly, it flew really fast across the sky... He said it was a UFO or a big ball of fire shooting across. They are 11/12 and were really scared."

According to Angela Collins, who posted on the TMT Facebook page this morning: "We saw this coming back from Kilkenny last night, just after 10 pm. Was very clear and it looked like it was quite close to earth, could it have been the same star."

Further reports may be submitted to Astronomy Ireland HERE .

About Fireballs:

A "meteor" is the correct name for what are commonly known as "shooting stars" or "falling stars". From a dark clear moonless sky away artificial lights you can expect to see one meteor every 10 minutes. Most are as bright as the stars you can see in the sky. There are more faint meteors than bright ones. The brightest star in the sky is Sirius. The planet Venus can outshine Sirius by about a factor of 15 in brightness. Venus is the brightest 'star-like' object that can be seen, thus a special name was given to meteors that are brighter than Venus because if you know how bright Venus is you can say if a bright meteor is brighter than Venus, which itself is an impressive sight to the naked eye. We call any meteor brighter than Venus a "fireball".

Your average meteor is no bigger than a grain of sand. When it collides with the Earth the closing speed can be of the order of 100,000mph and the friction with the thin air 100 miles above the ground quickly heats the tiny particle until it vapourises in a fiery streak which we call a shooting star and that typically only lasts one second or so. Most meteors are caused by small particles of dust that were left behind by comets. The brighter meteors come from larger particles. Fireballs are probably caused by objects the size of a pea, and larger. Comets leave very few large particles behind them so most fireballs probably come from pieces smashed off asteroids as the result of something (probably another asteroid) colliding with an asteroid, probably millions of years ago. Most asteroids orbit the Sun between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter i.e. between 2 and 4 times the Earth's distance from the Sun. Compared to planets, most asteroids are small (only a handful are bigger than 100 miles across) but they are rocky and some have metal cores.

Case Studies:

Fireball over Guadalajara, Mexico, 2006

Edmonton, Canada, 2008

Wisconsin, USA, 2010

Case study: Howard Edin (Oklahoma City Astronomy Club)

On September 30, a spectacular bolide or fireball meteor surprised a group of amateur astronomers enjoying dark night skies over the Oklahoma panhandle's Black Mesa State Park in the Midwestern US. Flashing past familiar constellations Taurus (top) and Orion, the extremely bright meteor was captured by a hillside camera overlooking the 2008 Okie-Tex Star Party

Astronomy enthusiast Howard Edin reports that he was looking in the opposite direction at the time, but saw the whole observing field light up and at first thought someone had turned on their car headlights. So far the sighting of a such a bright bolide meteor, produced as a space rock is vaporized hurtling through Earth's atmosphere, really is a matter of luck. But that could change. Earlier this week the discovery and follow-up tracking of tiny asteroid 2008 TC3 allowed astronomers to predict the time and location of its impact with the atmosphere. While no ground-based sightings of the fireball seem to have been reported, this first ever impact prediction was confirmed by at least some detections of an air burst and bright flash on October 7th over northern Sudan.