Witnesses said they saw a mysterious blue-green streak of light early on St. Patrick's Day morning. The bright fireball meteor lit up skies in Britain including areas of London, Stafford, Hampshire and the east coast of England.
At around 3:16 a.m. GMT on March 17, those who witnessed the sighting dubbed it as the "St. Patrick's Day meteor" because of its color.
The asteroid, which John Mason of the British Astronomical Association described as "spectacular," is bright enough to be called a fireball. The rock may have come from the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.
Mason explained that the meteor heated up the oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere, causing it to have its greenish color.
"Meteors of this kind are not uncommon," he said.
According to the UK Meteor Observation Network (UKMON), the large fireball was first recorded at their Church Crookham station. Their initial report says that the estimated terminal altitude is about 30 to 34 kilometers, or approximately 19 to 21 miles.
"Very large fireball reported by public was first noticed by our Church Crookham station at 3:16 this morning," reported Richard Kacerek in UKMON's website.
"It momentarily overloaded the camera with light and with [a] second video we will be able to triangulate and calculate the orbit soon," he added.
Kacerek said that the agency received various reports across Europe, and that the St. Patrick's Day sighting was the biggest they have ever recorded.
"It lasted for a few seconds. It was seen for hundreds of miles," he added.
Meteors are small rocks or particles of debris that burn up as they enter the Earth's atmosphere at a very high velocity. Upon entering the atmosphere, they heat the surrounding air, which causes the light witnessed by spectators on Earth.
Those who witnessed the fireball posted snapshots and videos of the phenomenon.
- Paul Gilbert (@PaulGilbertDj) March 17, 2016
- Amejane (@amejane1406) March 17, 2016