A September 14 2022 tweet from the account @latestinspace purportedly showed the trajectory of a low-flying “large meteor” observed that night in Scotland and Northern Ireland:
BREAKING 🚨: Large meteor spotted burning up over Scotland and Northern Ireland pic.twitter.com/EpqXvpeZd4
— Latest in space (@latestinspace) September 15, 2022
In less than a day, the clip was viewed nearly ten million times. It was seven seconds long, and depicted a small flash in the sky developing into a large, bright streak.
Text of the tweet read:
BREAKING 🚨: Large meteor spotted burning up over Scotland and Northern Ireland
However, that tweet did not specify where the clip was filmed, nor did the account credit its original poster. Hyperlinked text at the bottom of the tweet showed that it was obtained from Twitter user @_vangal, who shared it three hours prior to the retweet.
In the original tweet, @_vangal indicated the video was captured in the town of Paisley, near Glasgow in Scotland:
— Vanessa (@_vangal) September 14, 2022
A commenter shared their own footage of the possible meteor:
— Beanie (@Official_Beanie) September 14, 2022
A third tweet with video was shared by an account saying they had filmed it from Dublin, Ireland. On September 15 2022, FoxWeather.com’s “Meteor or space trash? Bright fireball flashes over the UK” suggested the bright light was “space junk,” not a meteor:
According to the UK Meteor Network, this fireball may not be a natural space object but a piece of space junk falling back to Earth.
Most bright meteors or fireballs last only a few seconds. This fireball was spotted from London to Ireland, clearly traveling a long distance before impacting the ocean. The object was recorded flying across the sky above the UK for about 20 seconds.
That reporting linked to the UK Meteor Network’s event report, which contained more than a thousand individual accounts from witnesses in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and England. On September 15 2022, the UK Meteor Network tweeted:
There is a great deal of speculation about last night’s fireball. The evidence we have seen so far indicates space junk but if we are presented with new data that changes that, we’ll let you know. Our colleagues at @UK_Fireball are also crunching data.
Later in the day, the account revised their assessment, describing the “fireball” as “definitely a meteor”:
OK. The final analysis is in! The fireball over NI and Scotland last night was definitely a meteor. The fireball observed yesterday (Sept 14, 20:59:40 UT) above the UK lasted over 20 seconds and traveled NW, passing directly over Belfast. 1/4 pic.twitter.com/GnV70S13B8
— UK Meteor Network (@UKMeteorNetwork) September 15, 2022
The Guardian published a quote from astronomer John Maclean about the revised assessment and trajectory of the meteor:
John Maclean, an astronomer at the network, said: “We’ve analysed it from many more angles. It is definitely a meteor. Probably a small piece of an asteroid that’s broken off an asteroid. It came in at an asteroidal orbit.”
He added: “We think it probably ended up between 50 and 100km off Islay. It’ll be at the bottom of the ocean now.”
He said the fireball was initially mistaken for a space junk because it was travelling more slowly than a typical meteor, and videos of the sighting suggested it broke up higher and earlier than a meteor.
Viral video of a “fireball” in the sky over Scotland and Northern Ireland was shared to Twitter on the night of September 14 2022; additional sightings from Ireland and England followed. After initially positing the bright light was “space junk,” the UK Meteor Network determined it was “definitely a meteor.”