Shooting Star
© Reuters
A shooting star photographed by an astronaut in space.
The sight of a giant shooting star left a North Taranaki man shaking after his early morning run.

Lance Howarth, a mobile mechanic, was out running around the back roads of Lepperton this morning when he saw the star around 5:45am.

''It was that bloody spectacular I had to stop and watch it.''

He said the star had completely lit up the dark moonless sky and surrounding countryside.

''It was early and still dark and the only reason I noticed it was because all of a sudden I could see where I was going and I thought, 'hang on, it's just got light really quickly' and looked up and there it was.''

He described the shooting star as a massive 'fireball' with a long tail and said it seemed to travel from the north east to south west before disappearing into cloud over the ranges.

''It was just frickin' huge. For a while I thought it might crash into the ranges.''

The star almost passed right above his head, and was completely silent, he said.

''It was the best thing I've ever seen, and the most frightening.''

Stunned, his mind ran to the possibilities of what it could mean.

''I did think for a second, ''are we about to be invaded by aliens?'''

The star also left a vapour trail which hung in the sky for at least half an hour, he said.

''I had to keep looking back.''

Mr Howarth finished his run and went home.

''I was shaking. It was incredible. And scary.''

But Mr Howarth, who runs a casual 18 kilometres most mornings, is no stranger to shooting stars.

''I see about two every morning. But I've never seen anything like this in my life.''

He said the clear country skies and getting up early were the key to seeing the stars.

''There's no interference from city lights so you just see everything.''

While he doesn't subscribe to the superstition of wishing on stars, he did wonder if it might bring him good luck.

''I thought, 'what's going to happen today? Am I going to win Lotto?'''

New Plymouth Astronomical Society president Nick Gladstone said shooting stars were common, but it was unusual for one to last long enough to catch more than a glimpse.

''There's no day of the year you can't see a shooting star, but most of them are over and done with before you get a proper look.''

Mr Gladstone said they had sent out a message to all the society's members asking for sightings of the star.

''If other people have seen it we might be able to get more information about exactly where it was and how high it was and tell if it was part of a meteor shower.''

If you saw the shooting star email

Source: Fairfax NZ News