Experts argue over where meteor spotted over Britain could have landed

SPLASH-teroid! Meteor experts argue over whether cosmic rock that ‘created sonic boom’ over Britain landed in the English Channel or the Bristol Channel

  • Some experts believe the meteor may have crashed into the English Channel while UK Fireball Alliance says it is likely there are fragments scattered across Devon, Dorset and Somerset and has urged people to find them
  • The meteor was spotted on taxi dash cam footage soaring through the sky at about 3pm yesterday afternoon 
  • Rare event was also cited as the cause of a loud sonic boom which was reported across south west England
  • As Government ruled out RAF cause, several scientists pointed to radar evidence that meteor caused sound 

Scientists are trying to determine where meteor fragments has landed after the small bolide soared through the sky in south west England yesterday afternoon.

The International Meteor Organisation have said they received reports, mostly from France, which suggest the meteor may have crash landed in the English Channel.

Meanwhile meteor experts in the UK believe it may have landed in England are urging people who live in the south west to keep an eye out for fragments of the space rock so that they can be studied.

The incident attracted much attention yesterday at about 3pm when the falling meteor bolide slowed to the speed of sound and caused a ‘sonic boom’ which was loud enough to rattle windows in Dorset, Devon and Somerset.

Radars suggest the meteor entered the skies over the Bristol Channel and experts believe fragments may have fallen somewhere in that part of the country.

The UK Fireball Alliance, an organisation which aims to collect freshly-fallen meteorites in the UK, urged people to check their gardens.

Appealing on Twitter, they said: ‘Somewhere in Devon, Dorset or Somerset a black rock fell out of the sky yesterday.

‘Likely to be glossy black with thumbprint-sized depressions. NOT like tarmac or furnace slag. Not white, not blue, it’s black. Did you find it?’

However, the UK Meteor Network shared information from the International Meteor Organisation which suggested the fragments may have fallen in the English Channel.

The meteor was caught on a taxi driver’s dashcam in Jersey as it entered the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrated

Astronomers believe ‘sonic boom’ which was felt and heard by people across south-west of England was caused by meteor

In Jersey, a meteor was seen in the sky yesterday as people in surrounding area questioned what may have caused the boom 

A man shared by the International Meteor Organisation which shows their predicted trajectory of yesterday’s meteor

What is a Bolide? 

A fireball is another term for a very bright meteor which is about as bright as Venus in the morning or evening sky.

A Bolide is a special type of fireball that explodes in a bright flash at its end.

Several thousands of meteors of fireball magnitude shoot across the Earth’s atmosphere every day.

But the vast majority of them happen over the oceans and uninhabited regions and many are masked by daylight.

A fireball has to be brighter than magnitude -6 to be visible in the day.

Vivid colours are also sometimes reported by observers.

The IMO said it had 68 reports, mostly from France as they had clear skies, that suggested the trajectory of the meteor meant it landed in the English Channel.

The UK Fireball Alliance have suggested there is not enough evidence to support this claim and they remain optimistic fragments may be found in the south west part of the country. 

They replied: ‘That’s not reliable. Not enough observations from side-on.

‘So it could still be over the Bristol Channel and not be inconsistent with this. Also not consistent with #sonicboom’

The astonishing phenomenon was captured by a taxi driver in Jersey whose dash cam caught the meteor entering the Earth’s atmosphere and disintegrating at the same time as residents took to social media after hearing the blast and feeling an accompanying shockwave at around 3pm yesterday.

The experts believe the fireball had likely soared above the UK but was not visible from the ground because of cloud cover. But it was visible from the other side of the Channel where there were clear skies.

A bolide is a special type of fireball which explodes in a bright terminal flash at its end, often with visible fragmentation. 

The British Geological Survey (BGS) tweeted: ‘Probable sonic event: Somerset, Devon and Dorset. BGS has no evidence of any seismic event in the area at the approximate time of 15:00 today. 

‘However, the descriptions provided by members of the public are consistent with those typically experienced by a sonic boom.’

Liam Thomas told Devon Live: ‘I’m from Payhembury and I just heard what sounded like a big explosion. 


‘It was this big bass-y boom that reverberated for a good 20 seconds or so, followed by a series of popping noises. I’ve checked and people as far as Dorset also heard it.’   

Meanwhile Stephen Griffiths, from Watchet in Somerset said he felt the vibration ‘boom’ through his greenhouse.

He told Somerset Live: ‘I was in the greenhouse of my back garden and heard it very loudly. I felt the vibration of the boom through the greenhouse floor slabs and my small greenhouse shook.’ 

Juliana Hodge of Hackney Hill, Dorset, also said: ‘What’s weird is my Peking ducks were spooked by something just before it happened.

‘As if they felt something – it made them leap up in the air spontaneously, at the same time, then my parents and I heard the booming noise, followed by about 30-40 seconds of thunder but it just didn’t end.’ 

Earlier this month chunks of a meteorite which caused an enormous fireball in the skies above south-west England in February were recovered by scientists.

The largest was a 300g (10.5oz) lump which was found on a private driveway in the sleepy village of Winchcombe in the Cotswolds after being snared by Earth’s orbit. 

Astronomers say the meteorite plunged into Earth’s orbit at around 31,000 mph — 40 times the speed of sound — before burning up in dramatic fashion.

But unlike most shooting stars, this meteorite was big enough to survive entry into the atmosphere when it streaked across Gloucestershire at 21:54 on February 28.

Astronomers put out a call hoping to locate the rock as soon as possible, as the longer a meteorite is exposed to oxygen, the less pure it becomes.

The last meteorite that was discovered in the UK was the Glatton meteorite that landed in a residential garden in 1991.

A sonic boom is caused when an object breaks the sound barrier, meaning it travels through the air at a speed of 770mph.  

In January, an RAF Hawk training jet ‘inadvertently’ caused a sonic boom when it rapidly plunged towards the ground over Norfolk.

Astronomers say the meteorite which was seen over the south-west of England plunged into orbit at around 31,000 mph before burning up. Pictured, the 300g chunk of the space rock, which astronomers are dubbing the ‘Winchcombe meteorite’

Astronomers put out a call hoping to locate the rock as soon as possible, as the longer it is exposed to oxygen, the less pure the available data becomes. It was traced to being somewhere north east of Cheltenham and found in Winchcombe on Wednesday

Residents took to social media after hearing the blast and feeling an accompanying shockwave at around 3pm yesterday

 Last month a home security camera in Ashington, Northumberland, captured a meteor explode in a fireball.

Ruth Rose, 25, got a text alert from her security camera after it detected suspicious movement outside her home in Ashington, on Thursday night.

When she and her partner Mark Newson, 26, checked the footage, they were stunned when they saw the celestial fireworks display lighting up the night sky.

It is believed the eight-second clip, shot at 9.18pm, shows a meteor – known as a bolide – crashing to earth and disintegrating in the atmosphere.

The incredible sight was spotted by hundreds of people across Northumberland, which is one of the best places in the UK to go star-gazing. It was awarded protected Dark Sky Park status in 2013.

The US-based International Dark Skies Association (IDA) granted Gold Tier Dark Sky Park status to the combined areas of Northumberland National Park and Kielder Water & Forest Park, between Hadrian’s Wall and the Scottish border.

The zone – called the Northumberland International Dark Sky Park (NDSP) – is one of the largest in the world, joining the likes of Death Valley and Big Bend Dark Sky Parks in America.

Explained: The difference between an asteroid, meteorite and other space rocks

An asteroid is a large chunk of rock left over from collisions or the early solar system. Most are located between Mars and Jupiter in the Main Belt.

A comet is a rock covered in ice, methane and other compounds. Their orbits take them much further out of the solar system.

A meteor is what astronomers call a flash of light in the atmosphere when debris burns up.

This debris itself is known as a meteoroid. Most are so small they are vapourised in the atmosphere.

If any of this meteoroid makes it to Earth, it is called a meteorite.

Meteors, meteoroids and meteorites normally originate from asteroids and comets.

For example, if Earth passes through the tail of a comet, much of the debris burns up in the atmosphere, forming a meteor shower.

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