Page last updated at 10:51 GMT, Monday, 7 September 2009 11:51 UK

Hundreds report Irish sky blast

Artists impression of meteorite fall and fireball
An artists impression of meteorite fall and fireball

Hundreds of people have been contacting an Irish astronomy group following reports of a fireball last week.

Astronomy Ireland said a huge explosion was seen in the skies over the country on Thursday at about 2100 BST.

Since then hundreds of people have contacted Astronomy Ireland, many from Northern Ireland, with their account of the event.

Conor Farrell, executive secretary of Astronomy Ireland, said it was most likely to have been a meteorite.

"Hopefully we will have an idea of where it landed within the next few days.

"It would have landed somewhere in Ireland or possibly in the Irish Sea," he said.

He said that the fireball was caused by either rock or metal hitting the earth's atmosphere.

However, it does not mean that it was part of an old satellite or other space junk, as many meteorites can comprise large amounts of iron.

Such events are more common than one might think.

"There are hundreds of small strikes every day with objects probably no bigger than a pea," Mr Farrell said.

"Sometimes we can see them as brief small trails.

Larger ones producing fireballs are maybe hitting 20 to 30 times a day on the atmosphere, but a lot of these will happen during the daytime and not be visible and others at night will be when a lot of people are in bed and also unseen."

The most recent report has been generating a lot of public interest, Mr Farrell added.

He said they had a fantastic response to their appear for sightings over the weekend, with hundreds of people contacting the group, including many from Northern Ireland.



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