On Sunday, April 26, around 10.10pm, a huge explosion equivalent to thousands of tonnes of high-explosive shattered the peace and tranquility of Irish skies.
A huge ‘fireball’ was seen from Donegal to Cork and all points in between, lighting up all of the island like daylight for about five seconds.
These fireballs, we now know, 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.
“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 from Astronomy Ireland.
“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.”
The report will also be sent to the 25,000 ‘friends’ of Astronomy Ireland who already receive weekly emails about events in Ireland and warnings of when the Northern Lights are expected. Anyone can join this list for free and become a ‘friend’ of Astronomy Ireland as www.astronomy.ie/friend.
Any companies who operate CCTV cameras are 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.
The Irish Coast Guard at Valentia contacted Astronomy Ireland as they were receiving so many reports of possible distress flares so they were glad to hear it was a naturally occurring fireball and not a distress signal.