Moment 'fireball' meteor 'size of a football' lights up night sky over southern Australia

Bonnie Christian
A meteor lights up the night sky in Tasmania, Australia: Jenny Ashton

A ‘fireball’ meteor has lit up the skies and caused a clap of thunder over southern Australia.

Residents from Tasmania and Victoria shared footage of the object that flew across the horizon just before 8.30pm Saturday AEST (11.30am BST).

Video shows the night sky lit up by a bright light as the meteor passes overhead with a tail trailing behind, and lasting only a few seconds.

Experts believe it was a “fireball” meteor, which may have been the size of a football.

Astronomer Martin George from the Queen Victoria Museum's Planetarium told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation when the meteor faded from view it would have only been 12 to 18 miles above the earth’s surface.

"We think this object was at least about the size of a soccer ball; it may have been larger," he said.

"We are certainly talking about a significant event, something that we don't often see."

Adrian from Mole Creek told the broadcaster her heard what “sounded like thunder” and a vivid light.

"I was outside and it was all nice and dark and suddenly the backyard lit up, like a helicopter going over with a spotlight, quite low," he said.

"The front of it was orange and had a really long white tail. It was pretty quiet going over but about 20 seconds later we heard the rumble."

Dominic McAlinden said he expected an explosion.

"Night turned to day, and a blue-and-white streak turned red and orange as it burnt up," he said.

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Victor was driving in northern Tasmania when "just out of the corner of my eye to the east I saw what appeared to be like a skyrocket shooting down to the ground".

"It appeared to be only half a kilometre away. I was very surprised to hear it was so far away because it appeared [to be] within several hundred metres."

While in Victoria, Rachel Kazakis said: "It was amazing! I honestly thought we were all goners!".

Others wondered if the meteor was “the aliens” seeking revenge for the supposed secrets at Area 51, a once secret military base that was “stormed” this weekend by alien hunters.

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