As people in the UK geared up to celebrate New Year’s Eve with fireworks and lights, a mysterious green object streaked across the night sky for a few seconds. More than 700 sightings of the green flash of light were reported to the International Meteor Organisation (IMO), mainly in the skies over England and Scotland on Sunday (31 December).
Many who witnessed the unusual occurrence even shared videos on YouTube and social media platforms that show the bright object whizzing through the night sky. The occurrence sparked speculation about what it was.
However, as IMO described, the object was actually a meteor that burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere turning into a glowing fireball. “Probably one of the last bright fireballs of 2017, but what a fireball,” the organisation tweeted. The UK Meteor Network described the fireball, which was visible at 5.30pm local time, as “very large”.
Lynn Mathers, who spotted the fireball over Doncaster, tweeted, “Just seen the #newyearsmeteor speeding over Conisbrough Castle at about 5.35ish. Couldn’t believe our eyes! Breathtaking. Vivid blue/green light travelling incredibly fast. Genuinely thought it was coming down close by.”
Another commuter, who saw it over Mirfield, West Yorkshire, said: “It looked like a big firework with orange sparks trailing off a green object,” according to a report in Metro.
Citing multiple videos of the sighting, IMO noted that the greenish/reddish object was quite slow moving, lasted more than 10 seconds and broke up into smaller parts at the end of its luminous path, before vanishing 20km south of the England and Scotland border.
The appearance of the green fireball coincided with the Quadrantids meteor shower, which began from 22 December and will continue until 17 January. The shower is known for its intense peaks, which is slated to happen on Wednesday (3 January) but, this time it could be hard to capture the peak views because the timing of the shower nearly coincides with the wolf supermoon, the brightest and largest of the year.