We’re currently up in Llandudno visiting Jo’s friends and family. Last night Jo and I went for dinner, then had a stroll along the waterfront as she pointed out all her old haunts to me. At about 10.30 we were looking out over the sea, staring at the lights of the offshore windfarm, and how beautifully bright Venus was on such a crystal clear night. We were debating whether one of the lights was Mars, as it was low and bright, but decided it was slowly moving therefore must be a plane. We were just about to turn away and carry on walking when I noticed it was in fact two planes, and they were moving very fast.
We stopped and stared a few more seconds before realising we were witnessing something very, very special. It got brighter, and brighter. And brighter. 5 or 10 seconds later it was directly overhead, and broken up into a few pieces, with a glowing trail that you would expect to see in a Disney film. It was a perfect meteor.
The whole thing lasted about 20 seconds, and we were phenomenally lucky to have been able to track it from when it first appeared on the horizon, to when it disappeared behind us. There can’t have been many people in the UK who had a full 180 degree experience like that. Here’s some pics taken by people on Twitter:
Here’s a report from “Bad Astronomy“, that details some of the sightings.
The latest BBC report suggests it’s a piece of space junk that was burning up in the atmosphere.
Less than half an hour before I was jealously tweeting friends in LA who were posting pics of the Space Shuttle’s farewell flyby in California (pic 1, pic 2) while we were in dull old Llandudno, but shortly after I was stood on the seafront here seeing probably the greatest astronomical event I’ll ever witness.
To finish, here’s two videos that were taken of the meteor (pics above were taken from Twitter on the night). Both videos contain a bit of bad language. Neither really do it justice, but the swearing might indicate how impressive it was to witness in person!