Advertisement

  1. ITV Report

What on Earth was that in the night sky above the West Country?

A few lucky people caught a glimpse of something quite rare in the night sky on Tuesday, but what was it and where did it come from?

Well before all this cloud rolled in we had one last clear night on Tuesday, and some luck night sky photographers were in for a real treat when they looked back at their shots.

A fireball shoots across the sky in Perranporth Credit: Stuart Cornell

What you're seeing in these images and time lapse (credit: Chris Small) is a special type of meteor called a "Bolide". They are pretty rare but around 11.30pm on Tuesday this Near-Earth object moved into our atmosphere and started to heat up, glowing to produce a fireball that lit up the sky for a few seconds.

A bolide is special because at its peak it's more than twice as bright as a full moon, and the colour at which it burns gives us an idea of what ingredients are in the meteor. The one caught a few days ago looks blue to me so it could contain a lot of Magnesium.

Meteors burn with different colours depending on what they're made from Credit: AccuWeather

Meteors become meteorites if any of the space debris survives the intense heat as it enters the atmosphere and the rock fragments land on the Earth's surface. A meteorite is sometimes quite dense and heavy if it contains a lot of metal, and they can be several billions of years old!