There is always something spectacular in the sightings of heavenly bodies entering our atmosphere with a flashy show of raging fire. This week the Irish sky was the backdrop of such an astronomical sighting as two fireballs made their appearance far east from South Yorkshire, but was most clearly visible above Ireland.
These fireballs are nothing but shooting stars or in other terms, huge meteors that shine brighter than Venus and are visible to the naked eye. The fireball is the result of a large amount of friction between the body and the atmosphere when it comes close to the earth. These bodies can also be tiny. Astronomy Ireland explains that it can even be as little as a speck of dust being left behind by a comet. Yet comets don’t leave that much dust behind, and therefore it is also considered to be often pieces of an asteroid that broke off when two or more asteroids smashed into each other.
These fireballs entering the earth’s atmosphere are not a common occurrence, and hence, when it is spotted, it is unique. Especially if it happened during night time and could be seen.
A Rare Sighting
Various people across Ireland saw the fireballs and gave their account of what they have observed. Mother and daughter Julie and Heather Lang were driving southeast just outside of Tubbercurry, Co. Slingo when they saw what they have described as two shooting stars which were very big and very close. They noted that it changed colour as it moved from their left hand to their right-hand side. Initially, it appeared to be a ball of fire but then turned into a greenish tint. They also noticed that it got closer to the ground as it passed from one side to the other.
Catherine Murray also saw the two fireballs as they were driving from Kerry to Cork. She stated that it was around 6:50 pm and they first noticed what they thought was a firework, but it moved strangely horizontally across the sky instead of vertically. She said that it was large and she could see the yellow head which was followed by a red and yellowtail. It was quite a spectacular sight.
More descriptions of the event surfaced as it hit social media. A driver, Sean Linehan, was able to capture the entire spectacle on his dashcam just outside of Banteer in Cork. He said that the footage doesn’t do the event justice at all. More footage was captured on the security camera of Paddy Maher. He installed the new system only last week at his house in Laois and managed to at least partially arrest the heavenly showcase.
Many more accounts like these were helpful to determine the location and the entirety of the event. Indeed a spectacular way to be reminded how small earth is in the much larger cosmos.