Expert explains the fireball seen above Lincoln

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The flash of light seen blazing across the skies of Lincolnshire on Monday night was a bright meteor, a local expert said.

A ball of light was caught on camera in North Hykeham, resembling a shooting star. A flash of light in the sky believed to be a meteor was also captured on camera in a Boston village on the same evening.

Graham Winstanley, the Company Secretary at Lincoln Astronomical Society, told The Lincolnite that what is seen in the videos is definitely a bright meteor (or fireball), but that this can be a common occurrence happening five to ten times a month.

He said: “The Boston video does not show it directly, but the flash can be seen with a reflection on the car roof. The one taken from North Hykeham shows the path of the fireball. The times of the videos match so it would be the same event.

“Most meteors are a brief streak of light lasting less than a second, but this one lasted about two seconds, so relatively slow.

“They are caused by dust or small rocks entering our atmosphere at high speed, most being a grain of sand up to around 2cm. A fireball like this one would be rather larger, perhaps the size of a football.

“It is very unlikely there would be any meteorite fall resulting from a meteor like this one. Bright meteors like this are fairly common, happening perhaps five to ten times a month, but are completely unpredictable.”

Lincoln Astronomical Society operates a radio detector for meteors 24 hours a day. It has the advantage that it can detect meteors during the day and night even when it is cloudy.

A member in North Hykeham also has his own similar system and the results can be accessed on the LAS website here under Hykeham Observatory.

Graham, who is also the visits organiser for groups that come to Lincoln Observatory, added: “When a meteor burns up in the atmosphere it leaves a trail of ionisation that reflects radio waves and our aerial picks up those radio waves. A receiver digitises the signal which is then processed and recorded on a laptop computer.”

Lincoln Astronomical Society’s next public opening evenings will be held at Lincoln Observatory on February 21-22 from 6.30pm-8pm.

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