England, November 26, 2017 (by Philip Whiteside, reporting for SKY News) – Dozens of people reported seeing the objects across England, Wales and northern France just after midnight on Saturday and the following morning. Several people captured video or photos showing large bright objects appearing to flare up and then recede in the night or early morning sky. The first sighting was just after midnight on Saturday with the majority of people from the UK Meteor Observation Network (UKMON) and the American Meteor Society (AMS) viewing it in south or southeast England.
It was categorised as a bolide, which is the technical definition of a meteor that results in a flash as bright as the moon.
The second came seven hours later with most reports from people who contacted UKMON and AMS coming in from south and southwest England and South Wales.
A handful of those who reported seeing the fireball at midnight said it produced a sound, with one describing it as a “rumble or multiple booms lasting 2-3 seconds”.
Others said they could hear no sound.
Richard Fleet, a member of UKMON, told Sky News the first fireball was the second brightest fireball seen in the UK for three years.
“It was probably a few kilograms of material,” Mr Fleet, from Wilcot, Wiltshire, said. “It would have been coming in at about 20 kilometres per second (km/s). The Space Station is moving at about 8km/s.
“There are multiple flashes as it breaks up. It would have happened at about an altitude of about 30km.
“It was bright but nothing like the one that broke up over Chelyabinsk (in Russia). That one would have been about 15 metres across. This one about 15cm.”
Someone calling themselves Sol C on the AMS website said: “It was so quick and I was inside my house looking out the window. Initially thought it was a firework but there was no firework sound and my friend next to me saw it too.”
Spence J, in Culmhead, Somerset, described it as a “very high elevation bright greenish light and terminal flash that lit up night-time countryside and the few clouds in the area. Didn’t get a good look at it as I was driving at the time and it seemed to come over from behind me.”
After witnessing the 7.15am UK time fireball on Saturday, Christmas T told the AMS website: “Wow never seen anything like it before.”
Almost all reported that the later fireball was not accompanied by sound but over half said the object appeared to break up as it came towards Earth.
Fred T said: “I was inside so my field of view was somewhat restricted. It was significantly brighter/bigger than anything I’d seen before (eg “shooting star”), esp as in full daylight.”
Mr Fleet said the appearance in the sky of the fireballs and a subsequent fireball seen over France on Saturday night was coincidental and they were not related.
He said the data gathered by UKMON would now be analysed in an attempt to work out whether any material from the meteor survived and hit the ground and, if so, where.