A flash of blue, orange, and white light lit up the skies over New Zealand on Wednesday, accompanied by a series of sonic booms. Several drivers captured the incident on dash cams.
According to the experts, the blinding flash and bang was most probably a low-flying meteor. The incident happened at around 10 p.m., and sightings were reported from the top of South Island to the tip of North Island.
Radio New Zealand were contacted by people from various parts of New Zealand, saying they saw a bright light and heard a loud bang, rather like a thunderclap.
Twitter was alive with sightings of the meteor from all over New Zealand.
— The Independent (@Independent) February 12, 2015
People in Coromandel, Northland, and across Auckland contacted Radio New Zealand saying they had seen a bright light and heard a loud noise like a thunderclap.
A text message from Nikki, a listener in Taurange, said she saw a massive blue and white ball with sparks coming out the back.
“Lit up the whole sky! Best I can describe it!! Amazing!”
According to Grant Christie, an astronomer at Auckland’s Stardome Observatory, the meteor seems to have appeared near Gisborne, heading north close to Whakatane and then up towards the east of Auckland.
“I think this has got the hallmarks of a pretty decent-sized rock, probably something in the order of a meter to two meters across.”
Saying sightings like this are rare over New Zealand, Christie said the meteor would have exploded around 20 kilometers above the Earth.
“A lot of people say it landed in the valley next to them, or it looked close — but that’s an illusion, really.
The thing’s moving along, entering the atmosphere probably about 20 to 30 kilometers per second… much faster than speeds people have any familiarity with.
What looks like just above the hills near them is way,way beyond that, probably hundreds of kilometers away.”
In the following video uploaded by Josh Sherbone, the explosion causes a flash right across the night sky.
A second dash cam video recording was taken from a car driving in Auckland and is included below.
In other related news, the Inquisitr reported on the newest and most detailed photos taken of Ceres by the Dawn spacecraft as it approached the dwarf planet.
[Image: Screengrab from YouTube video]