A fireball meteor — possibly as small as a tennis ball — has burst into the Earth’s atmosphere causing a flash of light and a sound “like thunder” over Tasmania and Victoria on September 20th, causing some to fear the worst.
The object flew across the horizon just before 8:30pm (AEST), with videos being shared by excited eyewitnesses in both states.
Adrian from Mole Creek said he saw a vivid light and heard what “sounded like thunder”.
“I was outside and it was all nice and dark and suddenly the backyard lit up, like a helicopter going over with a spotlight, quite low,” he said.
Astronomer Martin George from the Queen Victoria Museum’s Planetarium described the event as a “fireball” meteor, but said there remained uncertainty over its size.
“We think this object was at least about the size of a soccer ball; it may have been larger,” he said.
“We are certainly talking about a significant event, something that we don’t often see.”
He said when the meteor faded from view it would have been about 20 to 30 kilometres above the earth’s surface.
“The kind of object we saw last night, they are impossible to predict. You really have to be lucky to be outside at the right moment,” he said.
Mr George said anyone searching for any remnants of the meteor would find it difficult, with minimal or no debris making it to the ground in events like this.
David Reneke, an astronomy writer, agreed the object was a “fireball” meteor, suggesting it could have been as small as a tennis ball.
“They are not rare, but you do get the occasional odd meteor that burns a little more brightly than others and actually melts as it comes through the sky,” he said.
Mr Reneke said the loud bang was the meteor exploding.
Mr Reneke said the skies were in the middle of a “meteor period”, with more potentially to come.
“There could be more, you never know. You may go out and be lucky enough to see another one,” he said.
“The earlier (in the night) it is, the more reports you are going to get.”