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Fireballs light up sky across Midlands

This picture was taken in Derbyshire last night around 11.00pm Photo: Adam Badrick from Belper in Derbyshire

Police were inundated with reports of "fireballs in the sky" last night as a large meteor lit up the sky across the Midlands.

Many people mistook the meteor for aircraft or something more sinister and contacted the police reporting fireballs or 'suspicious lights in the sky'.

One eye witness in Great Barr said she saw a large ball of light trail across the sky for around 6 seconds as she looked out of the window at 11.00pm last night (Friday 21 September):

"I thought it was three planes flying behind one another to begin with, but then thought it had too many lights, I said aloud to myself

"what is that, what is that?"

"It never occurred to me it could be a meteor because I'd never seen one before, it just looked like a large lump of fire with smaller ones trailing behind."

– Jean Davis

Many people took to Twitter to report their sightings:

Gary Fildes the lead astronomer at the public research facility the Kielder Observatory in Northumberland said this was the largest, "best one by far" meteor he has ever seen:

"It was the largest, most spectacular meteor I have ever seen. There were 25 of us observing last night when we spotted something.

"Some people initially thought it was a helicopter the light was so bright, but we soon realised it was a meteor."

– Gary Fildes, Head Astronomer, Kielder Observatory

Gary Fildes said some people grew scared at one point as it looked as though the meteor was going to hit them.

This was taken near to the Kielder Observatory last night Credit: Ross Herron

"We are 300 metres above sea level so we had a good view of it, it was in the sky for around 40 seconds, people did feel worried at one point as it looked as though it was heading straight for us."

– Gary Fildes, Head Astronomer, Kielder Observatory

There is speculation today that the 'fireball in the sky' was actually 'space junk' burning up in the atmosphere but the astronomer thinks there is too much evidence against this theory.

Mr Fildes says there was a huge surge in meteor activity before the large meteor was spotted and then afterwards, suggesting to him it was in fact a meteor.

He also says it was coloured slightly green suggesting the presence of metals like copper or iron, plus it was travelling East to West which Gary says would be unlikely for 'space junk' to do.

For more on this story see ITV National News site.