Fireball over Canberra, Australia

  

If you looked skywards on Thursday and thought you saw a flash of blue light up the night sky, you weren’t imagining it.

Canberra was treated to a spectacular meteor display late on Thursday, just after 10pm, with many capturing the spectacle on camera.

While it looked large, Australian National University astronomy professor Dr Brad Tucker said the meteor itself was relatively small.

“It was probably between 20 and 50 centimetres in size. It was a relatively small meteor, it just appears very bright,” Dr Tucker said.

“The blue-green colour that everyone saw was because these meteors are mostly iron and nickel, and when it melts as it burns up in the atmosphere, it burns that colour.

“Even a very small rock can weigh up to 100 kilograms.”

The meteor was seen across Canberra and over parts of the south coast and Jindabyne.

Dr Tucker said hundreds of meteors hit the Earth every day, most the size of a grain of sand.

He said there was a greater chance of Canberrans seeing a meteor in the capital in the winter months due to the shorter daylight hours.

“The nights are longer, so there’s a greater chance of seeing them being seen,” Dr Tucker said.

“If they happened during the day, most of them would be missed.”

Dr Tucker said Canberra receives a meteor every couple of months, but not often captured on camera.

The astronomy professor said it wasn’t known if the meteor burned up in the atmosphere or landed on the ground, with it last being seen over the Snowy Mountains.

Canberra’s meteor encounter comes after large meteor showers were seen over South Australia and the Northern Territory in recent weeks.

Vision was captured of the meteor from the Mount Stromlo observatory, however Dr Tucker said vision of meteors had become more common thanks to technology.

“There are a lot more cameras and dashcams out there, so people are capturing a lot more them,” he said.

One of the Canberrans that did was Oxley resident Germaine Muller, whose dashcam captured footage of the dislay as he was driving on the Tuggeranong Parkway after finishing work.

He said he didn’t notice the meteor at first until he saw the footage his camera captured.

“I saw some light out of the corner of my eye while I was driving, but I wasn’t super focused on it,” Mr Muller said.

“When I looked back at the dashcam, I thought it was a flare at first.

“The dashcam is mounted pretty high, so it managed to capture the full view, rather than most of the road.”