Parts of a meteorite that collided with Earth last weekend may have landed in Ireland, according to Astronomy Ireland.
Last Sunday evening at around 8.13 pm, reports of a flash so bright that it lit up the sky for a few seconds flooded into Astronomy Ireland from all over Ireland. Confirmed sightings came from counties as far apart as Clare, Dublin, Meath and Monaghan.
Astronomy Ireland believe the flash was caused by a rock from space colliding with Earth and breaking up as it hurtled towards the ground hundreds of miles above Irish soil.
“No man-made explosion (except for a nuclear weapon being detonated) could have caused a flash this bright. So Astronomy Ireland reckons it was a rock in space colliding with Earth and burning up in the sky hundreds of miles above Ireland,” said David Moore, editor of Astronomy Ireland magazine.
One amateur astronomer even managed to catch the explosive occurrence on camera. Michael O'Connell captured the video below of the incredible burst of light in the sky from Kildare at 20:12:47 on Sunday November 8. O’Connell writes that it was most likely a northern Taurid [annual meteor shower associated with the comet Encke] and that he believes it occurred over the Irish Sea near Wales.
Astronomy Ireland also believe that such was the force of the flash and the “colossal explosion” in Irish skies that fragments of the meteorite may have made it to ground. They have issued an appeal for further reports from the public to locate any such remnants of the meteor’s collision.
“From a flash this bright it is possible that part of the rock survived the reentry process and landed on Earth,” Moore added.
“From all the sightings we can predict where any meteorite fell and then people can search that area for the highly valuable meteorites. Astronomy Ireland will add anyone who sends in a report to its email list and when the analysis is completed in a few days a message will be emailed to everyone on that list so everyone can search for the meteorite at the same time.”
And as if discovering a bit of outer space wasn’t incentive enough to report a sighting, meteorites can also fetch an astronomical sum, according to Moore.
“A fireball in November 1999 that dropped a meteorite on Ireland was found in Co. Carlow after a similar analysis by Astronomy Ireland,” he said. “Collectors were later selling bits of this meteorite for 50 times the price of gold at the time, so meteorites can be very valuable.”
If you think you may have seen something of interest to Astronomy Ireland you can report the sighting to astronomy.ie.