Fireballs are caused when a large rock from space burns up in the atmosphere as it collides with Earth at speeds of the order of 100,000 mph.
According to Astronomy Ireland, a huge explosion equivalent to thousands of tonnes of high-explosive shattered the peace and tranquility of Irish skies at 10.10pm last night.
The organisation says the ‘huge fireball’ was seen from Donegal to Cork and all points in between, lighting up all of the island like daylight for about 5 seconds. The Irish Coast Guard at Valentia contacted Astronomy Ireland last night as they were receiving so many reports of possible distress flares.
“This event was so bright that a piece or pieces may have survived the re-entry and landed as extremely rare and valuable meteorites” said David Moore.
“We are appealing to everyone who saw the fireball to fill in to online report form on Astronomy Ireland’s website ‘astronomy.ie‘ as soon as possible while the details are fresh in their minds. In return we will send everyone our analysis of all the reports and where we think any meteorite may have landed.”
Any companies who operate CCTV cameras are also being asked to check their recordings for Sunday night around 10:10pm to see if they recorded the fireball near the horizon as photographic records like this are extremely valuable for the analysis.
In 1999 a fireball resulted in fragments being found at Leighlinbridge in Co. Carlow. One collector offered a £20,000 sterling reward for these meteorites.
In 1969, another fireball dropped fragments all across Northern Ireland, including one that smashed through the roof of a building in Sprucefield RUC Station.
Sunday night’s fireball was filmed by Steve Hooks from Armagh (below)