A meteor was spotted in the night sky for a few seconds over the English Channel on Sunday, BBC reported. It was captured by a camera set up by a charity that provides air rescue operations in the Channel Island region and shared on their Facebook Page.
Jim Rowe from the UK Fireball Alliance estimated that the meteor was probably the size of a handful of stones, talking to BBC. He also said it was likely a chunk of asteroid or comet that entered the atmosphere at a "pretty high speed and a fairly a shallow angle". And the meteor likely exploded once "the pressure of the atmosphere became too much".
Meteors are small celestial objects that enter the Earth's atmosphere at high speeds and begin to burn due to aerodynamic heating. On most occasions, meteors burn out during this process, but those that survive the journey and end up on the surface of the Earth are called meteorites. Often, meteorites are collected due to their non-Earthly origins but are of more significance from a scientific standpoint as they offer a window into the origins of the Solar system.
In July this year, a bigger meteor zoomed across the Norwegian sky at night and sent shock waves that broke windows. But most meteors are not noisy. They often burn out in the atmosphere without much notice. Estimates suggest that the planet receives about 17 meteors every day, most of them falling in uninhabited areas.
It is due to the uniquity of cameras that more meteors are now being spotted. The same meteor was spotted by a shipping company located across the Channel in Southampton, who also shared their capture on YouTube.
Over the years, sky scanning has become an area of interest for hobbyists who set up cameras capturing images of the sky and reporting sightings to bodies that monitor meteors.
While these smaller meteors might be harmless, larger meteoroids could definitely spell doom for the human civilization, just the way they did for dinosaurs millions of years ago. NASA plans to scan the skies for such potentially devastating objects using its Near-Earth Object (NEO) Surveyor Telescope. Currently, under development, the asteroid spotting telescope is scheduled for a launch in 2026.