Irish Meteorite Brings Out Fortune Hunters

Meteor Shower
Image Credit: Michal Mancewicz

A large fireball seen in the Irish night sky on Wednesday caused quite a stir, as it flew low enough to be mistaken by one Cavan resident as an airplane. The next day, however, fortune hunters in the north of Ireland were out looking for a piece of the meteorite which could net them in excess of $41,000.

The Irish police, Coast Guard and Irish Aviation Authority started receiving a flood of calls around 6 p.m. when the witnesses phoned in their sighting of a green and white flare traveling at low altitudes across the night sky.

Lillian Cassin from the Irish Aviation Authority said: “I saw what looked like a flare or a single firework, it was green and it lasted only about six or seven seconds,” while Joss Scott, who was out driving his car at the time, described it as “very bright green, with an orange trail coming from it.. traveling at [a] fantastic speed.”

As the search for a piece of the rare meteorite continues, David Moore from Astronomy Ireland, said: “This is a huge event..We think it’s a fireball, that’s a rock from space the earth has slammed into, and they burn up as huge shooting stars. This one appears to have lit up the whole country.”

Although difficult to estimate the size of the rock at this stage, experts believe it was probably traveling 100 times faster than a bullet and slammed into the Earth atmosphere with the force of a small atomic bomb, before exploding and potentially scattering fragments which hadn’t burnt up, in the Irish countryside.

Although rare, similar sighting have occurred from time to time in Ireland, with the last one in 1999 when fragments of the meteorite were retrieved in Co Carlow and sold for $500 per gram.

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