The UK Meteor Observation Network (UKMON) received more than 50 reports of a meteor or asteroid sighting on January 31, as something large exploded over the Irish Sea. Many were concerned of the meteor’s origin, with one claiming it looked almost extraterrestrial.
Angeline, who lives in England, told the UKMON: “Was a shocking green orb which moved faster than I’ve ever seen anything in the sky move. There was no tail and it lasted only one to two seconds.”
Jet from Birkenhead added: “I thought it was a weird firework but my friend who lives a fair few miles away also saw it”.
Warren from Holt Heath said: “Pretty scary, looked like something big falling to earth”.
However, the International Meteor Organisation (IMO) confirmed it was natural, stating on its website: “We received 55 reports about a fireball seen over Cymru, England, Northern Ireland and Wales on Friday, January 31st 2020 around 17:54 UT.”
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The IMO received tens of sightings
The IMO and UKMON are yet to work out the fireballs speed or size.
Asteroids and meteors produce a bright explosion of fire when they hit the atmosphere as it is the first time the space rock has ever met resistance.
Air seeps into the pores and cracks of the rock, pushing it apart and causing it to explode.
The IMO said: “Fireballs are meteors that appear brighter than normal.
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“Due to the velocity at which they strike the Earth’s atmosphere, fragments larger than one millimetre have the capability to produce a bright flash as they streak through the heavens above.
“These bright meteors are what we call fireballs and they often strike fear and awe for those who witness them.”
While this meteor was small, the bright flash reiterates the need for eyes on the skies to watch out for potential asteroid collisions.
While the chances of a major asteroid hitting Earth are small – NASA believes there is a one in 300,000 chance every year that a space rock which could cause regional damage will hit – the devastating prospect is not impossible.
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However, there are some plans on the go which could help Earth against potential asteroid strikes.
NASA is currently studying Asteroid Bennu, where its OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft arrived in 2018.
Part of the reason NASA is sending the OSIRIS-Rex spacecraft there is to gather more information about the space rock which is 500 metres in length.
NASA fears that the asteroid, which has the potential to wipe out a country on Earth, could hit our planet within the next 120 years, with the next close flyby in 2135.
The mission will give vital information on how to deflect asteroids from their collision course with Earth, but NASA reiterates that while there is a small chance Earth could be impacted, “over millions of years, of all of the planets, Bennu is most likely to hit Venus.”