A fireball which lit up the sky when it plunged to Earth was caught on camera above the English Channel.
Filmed off the coast of Dawlish in Devon by a webcam, the burning meteor appears to burn up in the sky before disappearing.
More than 50 people reported seeing the flaming ball – which appeared brighter than the moon – from Surrey, Guernsey and even Rennes in northern France as it rocketed down to Earth on Friday night.
Dr Robert Massey deputy executive director of the Royal Astronomical Society said it was an impressive sight and almost certainly a bright meteor burning up in the Earth’s atmosphere.
‘It just shows that a lot of astronomy can be enjoyed without any special equipment at all,’ he said.
The operators of the Dawlish Beach Cam reported the sighting to the UK Meteor Network.
‘This particular type is known as a Bolide fireball which means that it is brighter than the moon’ a spokesperson for Dawlish Beach Cam said.
A fireball is another term for a bright meteor.
They are small bodies of matter from space that enter Earth’s atmosphere and becoming bright as a result of friction.
A Bolide fireball is one which explodes with a bright flash at the end – even showing visible fragmentation.
‘The team are still collating information on this particular event but they do have some other footage and the trajectory they believe the fireball took’, the spokesperson for Dawlish Beach Cam said.
‘Our footage does disagree with the information though as it would have appeared from left to right from their suggestion.
‘Normally they try to triangulate the positions from a minimum of three stations and so our footage has been of great use’, he said.
Several thousand fireballs happen in the Earth’s atmosphere daily.
Many of these happen during the day or over oceans which means they go unnoticed.
Sometimes they have trains and smoke trails beyond them which are ionised air molecules left behind after the meteor has passed.
Although they may look terrifying, fireballs can never hit Earth – they burn up at between 9 -12 miles (15 – 20km) high.
‘If you are interested in reporting incidents or even hosting a camera to track these events, the team would love to hear from you’, the spokesperson said.
‘Of course, if you are watching on Dawlish Beach and spot anything then please do report it to us so we can share the footage.’
In a write up of the report received on the UK Meteor Network’s website they wrote: ‘We started receiving fireball reports just minutes after midnight.
‘It appears to be very bright meteor/fireball lasting few seconds and been spotted from Nottingham to Guernsey but as far as French Lorient and Rennes’, they said.