Page last updated at 18:03 GMT, Friday, 4 September 2009 19:03 UK

Huge 'sky explosion' investigated

The planet Jupiter is currently the brightest star-like object in the sky

An Irish astronomy group is calling for help in tracing the origin of a huge explosion in the skies over the country on Thursday evening.

Astronomy Ireland said it was currently investigating the explosion, which occurred at 2100 BST.

A spokesman said the most likely explanation was a space rock or satellite crashing into the atmosphere.

The group wants anyone who witnessed the event to contact its website at

Astronomy Ireland chairman David Moore said: "So far, reports have been registered by residents in west Cork, Kerry, Cavan and as far north as Donegal, thus suggesting that this spectacular event may have been witnessed by people all over the country.

"In the past two decades there have been two major explosions in the skies over Ireland.

"When we investigated these, we were able to conclude that one was a Russian military satellite that exploded over the country, and the other was a rock from space which we predicted would have fallen on Carlow and this rock was indeed found, becoming the last meteorite fall of the millennium."

Mr Moore said the explosion should not be confused with a hugely-bright star which was positioned just below the full moon on Thursday night.

"This was actually the planet Jupiter and it can be characterised by being by far the brightest star in the entire night sky," he said.

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