Thu, 04 Feb 2010 10:38 UTC
A search was underway today for remnants of a huge fireball that lit up the skies over north Dublin and across the country last night.
Large numbers of people reported seeing the fireball as it blazed brightly across the sky around 6pm.
Today, people living in Cavan were searching for remnants of what is believed to have been a small asteroid, following reports it may have hit the ground in the townland of Crimlin.
People in several parts of Dublin and around the country reported sightings of the fireball.
Today FM presenter Tim Kelly told the Herald today he saw the fireball as it seemed to streak across the sky over Dublin.
"I was visiting a friend at Dublin South FM at Dundrum and we were five storeys up with a view over Dublin. It suddenly appeared in the sky in the direction of O'Connell Street. It was orange with flames coming out of it. It was like something out of the movie Armageddon.
"It seemed to be coming from the west and heading for the north-east. It seemed the size of a 10 cent coin if you held it in front of you with your arm outstretched."
Crimlin resident Barry Murphy said he believed the fireball landed in his locality. It was "pure white" and it seemed to be about two feet wide, he said.
He said it appeared to have been traveling relatively slowly and he thought it could have landed somewhere in a field at the back of his home. He had used lamps to search in the darkness and he hoped today he might find some burn marks in the ground, he told RTE radio.
The fireball was "not that far up" when he saw it, he noted.
A number of other farmers in the Crimlin area said they were searching their land this morning. Farmer Eamon Gaffney said this morning: "I'll be having a good look around this morning. The land around here is very rocky so it could be quite difficult to find something that looks like a rock."
Astronomy Ireland's David Moore is appealing for people to check footage on security cameras around 6pm, to help him get an accurate idea of where the rock might have landed.
"It's extremely unlikely that there is footage of it otherwise, because it lasted just one or two seconds," he said. "You would have had to be filming at the time to get it on camera."
Mr Moore said that Astronomy Ireland has received hundreds of emails and calls from people who saw the fireball and that staff will process these in order to pinpoint the exact location, but all that is known at the moment is that the fireball is believed to have landed in the northern half of Ireland.
Mr Moore said the rock could originally have been anything between the size of a football and a house when it originated from an asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars.
Valentia Coastguard said it has had reports of sightings from people living in Mullingar, Limerick, Ballybunion and Bantry.
Astronomy Ireland said there is a very rough rule of thumb that if a fireball is brighter than the full moon then some part of it can survive the re-entry process and land on the Earth. Such objects are thought to be as big as say an apple. How much survives to hit the ground depends on lots of things such as the speed of re-entry, and whether it is made of sturdy material such as metal or light rock.
The group's website stated that an average meteor is no bigger than a grain of sand. When it collides with the Earth the closing speed can be of the order of 100,000mph.