The fireball was spotted by observers across Scotland and northern England as well as Ireland Friday night, according to BBC
News and other media reports. Many observers captured views of the meteor
on camera, including skywatcher Stuart Pitkeathly.
"At first, I thought it was a helicopter search light rising above the trees on the horizon as I was looking out my window," Pitkeathly, who lives in the town of Dalbeattie in southwest Scotland, told SPACE.com in an email. "Then as it came closer there was a burst of blue-green light and this was all in a few seconds. It then appeared to have a smoke like tail billowing from the bright fireball."
Pitkeathly's video of the Sept. 21 meteor
shows what appears to be a fireball created as a small space rock breaks apart in Earth's atmosphere. Pieces of the meteor can easily be seen separating from the main body in his view.
Friday's meteor led many witnesses to wonder if it was sparked by a man-made piece of space junk falling out of orbit. But some experts have conclusively tied the event to a naturally occurring space rock burning up in Earth's atmosphere.
Veteran satellite tracker Marco Langbroek, who runs the blog Sattrackcam Leiden in the Netherlands, wrote today (Sept. 24) that the fireball was definitely a meteor. Langbroek used sighting reports to determine the fireball's trajectory and studied videos posted by witnesses to determine how long it lasted.