What an evening we had last Friday at the Flamsteed Blackheath stargazing event. We got to enjoy a feast of deep space objects including the prettiest double star of Albirio, the Ring and dumbbell nebulas, the dazling double cluster, the humbling ancient relics of Hercules and M92 globular clusters, the core of andromeda galaxy in combo with, to my surprise thanks to one of our keen guest/member acute observation, Andromeda’s satellite galaxy, M110 which was at the edge of the eyepiece view…wonderful.
We all felt most satisfied with the evening, contentedly packing away for the session, when suddenly we were startled by the sight of a huge streaking light and lingering multicoloured trail due Easterly direction. Bewildered, and rather cautiously, being of that nature, we theorised it being a firework but then soon realised how silly that was as how does a firework go off downwards from the sky!?! Mike of course quickly concluded that what we saw was a Fireball! For most of us, myself included, it was a first for us, and surely, a first for our Blackheath stargazing events?!?
Typically, Daily Express conjectures it being a UFO (why do I always fall for clicking on that damn link from the google search)…naturally, I shall not link to that but there are other more sensible sites that verified it as a fireball.
I went to Wales Astrocamp following morning, and some of the folks there also saw a bright streak at the same time but not as spectacularly. Seems like we in London had the best seats! But this must have been at a high altitude to be seen from so far.
Anyway, thanks Rupert/Mike for organising what turned out to be a very memorable session!
I reported the fireball to the Society for Popular Astronomy, and received the following reply this evening…
Thank you for your report of this fireball.
Reports have been received from the UK from as far north as Lincolnshire and North Wales and from as far west as the Bristol area. I have also heard, via a third party, of a possible sighting from Berwick upon Tweed. Further afield it was seem from many locations in Belgium, the Netherlands and northern France. The fireball’s atmospheric trajectory was over the English channel to the south of Sussex. Consequently, if it had produced any meteorite(s), they would most likely have fallen in the sea.
By chance this fireball occurred 4 years after a very spectacular fireball that crossed northern England during the evening of Friday 21st September 2012.
A summary of the early reports received by the SPA can be found at http://popastro.com/meteor/news/newsdetail.php?id_nw=482