Rare 'fireball' lights up country's skies
Published 04/02/2010 | 05:00
A COLLISION between a space rock and the earth's atmosphere caused flashing lights across the skies yesterday evening.
People across the country reported seeing a series of flashing lights in the night skies.
Tommy Moore, from Astronomy Ireland, explained that a space rock had collided with the earth's atmosphere at around 6pm, prompting an explosion and showering debris over many parts of Ireland.
"A major explosion happened in the sky over Ireland. We think it's a fireball. That is a rock from space the earth has slammed into, and they burn up as huge shooting stars. This one appears to have lit up the whole country.
"The phones here in Astronomy Ireland are going crazy," he said.
One person who spoke to Sligo's Ocean FM said he had contacted the emergency services after witnessing the fireball.
"I saw a ball of fire just above the trees, fall down. I rang the emergency services. I thought it was a helicopter," he said.
Another person said he thought it resembled a bright gas cylinder.
"It seemed to get brighter as it was approaching the ground," he said.
Tommie Brogan, an amateur astrologist from Inver, County Donegal, described it as a very good light, "like a welder".
Astronomy Ireland's website appeared to crash last night.
Fireballs are quite rare and the brighter they are the rarer it is to see one.
Astronomy Ireland says that if the fireball is brighter than the full moon, it is "well worth looking for a meteorite" -- the part that survives the fall to earth.