Fireball in sky above Sheffield believed to be ‘space junk’

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A METEOR-like fireball which streaked across the sky like a ‘firework’ above Sheffield and the rest of South Yorkshire is thought to have been ‘space junk’.

It sparked emergency calls from some worried folk who feared the bright light, which broke up before fading away, might have been a crashing aircraft or even an alien invasion.

Astronomers, who observed it in the sky throughout the north of England, Northern Ireland and Scotland, had not been expecting a meteor shower.

Mark Thompson, presenter of the BBC programme Stargazing Live, said the fireball was more likely to have been pieces of man-made material such as satellites, so-called space junk, breaking up in the atmosphere.

It travelled east to west across the sky, leaving an orange and green tail behind it - not characteristic of a meteor, which is normally a white-ish colour, he added.

Hundreds of people who saw the spectacle in areas including Sheffield, Manchester, Leeds, Blackpool and Dumfries, posted Tweets on Friday night, just after 10.55pm.

Harry Walker, aged 14, of Elsecar, Barnsley, said: “It was incredible. It was a bright fireball with sparks coming off it from behind, like a firework.

“It appeared to be low in the sky and took quite a while to fly across the horizon. It was amazing. We didn’t know what we had seen but then everyone on Twitter was calling it a meteor.”

Many were disappointed to miss it. Gavin Powers in a tweet said: “The more I read about this, the more I wish I’d seen it!”

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