Witnesses to this phenomenon also spoke of the significant noise caused by the passage of this celestial object, still in the process of identification.
“We saw an orange light coming down diagonally from the sky, with smoke billowing out behind it.” The New Zealand Climate Monitoring Site time clockand local authorities received dozens of testimonies on Thursday about a fireball seen and heard in various parts of the country, including “in the lower half of the North Island and the upper part of the South Island,” explains the meteorological institute.
Witnesses say they saw a “bright flash of light” around 1:50 p.m. followed by an explosion, others speak of a “giant fireball,” reports The Herald of New Zealand. Many people have also heard a loud noise when passing this celestial object. “My whole house was shaking, I thought it was hit by a truck,” said one woman, when others thought it was an earthquake.
A “possible meteorite or space junk”
Difficult to know at the moment what caused this fireball in the sky. Weather Watch speaks of a “possible meteorite or space debris” that would have entered the Earth’s atmosphere. A meteor is “the bright line seen when interplanetary dust or a small meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere at a very high speed”, explains the Paris Observatory – PSL on its website.
The Met Service meteorological institute found the signature in the atmosphere of the passage of this celestial object. “It could be the smoke trail of a meteorite that passed through the lower part of the North Island,” he explains on Twitter.
Astronomer Ian Griffin says it could be “a number of things”, reports The New Zealand Herald. He mentions the possibility of a satellite, or also that of a meteoroid.
The noise that is heard is due to the speed of the object in our atmosphere. Space specialist Duncan Steel speaks, in Stuff Media, with a potential speed of 30 km per second. As a reminder, the speed to reach the sound barrier is “only” 340m/s. The GeoNet institute, which records geological anomalies, even captured the passage of this possible meteoroid with its seismic instruments.
A Rarely Observed Phenomenon
Seeing such a celestial object in broad daylight is quite rare. Duncan Steel says that he only saw one in his life, 40 years ago. These phenomena “are due to macrometeoroids in the atmosphere that arrive very quickly, generally at 30 kilometers per second,” according to him. It would also appear that this fragment is large enough to be visible, “something the size of a rugby ball or more, that’s what makes them rare,” he explains.
In this sense, WeatherWatch is calling potential witnesses to the event to introduce themselves and explain what they saw. Ian Griffin is asking anyone who has recorded this moment on video to save the files and share them with scientists.
“We could use them to triangulate the position of the thing and where it landed, if it landed at all,” he explains. “It may be scientifically important to get this thing back. Meteorites in this country are pretty rare, so it would be great to get one.”