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Meteor over South Island

A report has just come in about a large meteor seen over the skies of Dunedin late on Sunday night. 


An eye witness, Dan Clark, reported to that “it was one of the brightest and largest examples I’ve seen in years”.

Dan Clark says he was lying in the spa in Kenmure, Dunedin when he saw what he
thought initially was fireworks.  “…but the front part was really bright and the
tail was really long. It started in the North and moved its way through the
night sky ducking behind clouds occasionally until it disappeared over the
southern horizon”.

Mr Clark says he even stopped the jets in the spa for a minute to make sure it wasn’t a plane crashing because “it was so low!”. would be keen if anyone else had seen it – please a comment below if you did.

Head weather analyst  Philip Duncan says there have been a spate of meteorites and shooting stars across the night skies of New Zealand over the past month or so, pointing to a recent meteor show north of Auckland several weeks back and shooting star reports during the electrical display offshore from Auckland on Wednesday night.


Rob on 20/01/2009 1:48am

The meteorite was in fact a decaying rocket body that had had been up there for many years from an old satellite launch- so is what was commonly referred to as space junk. It is therefore unrelated to any recent meteor showers.

Please see my comments on the other article on this subject.

Thanks to all those who submitted reports, they will be of interest to the satellite observers’ community.

By the way a meteor is not a meteorite till it hits the ground- till then it is a meteor.

Terry on 19/01/2009 4:42am

An extremely bright meteor observed travelling in an easterly direction over the Taieri Plains heading towards Dunedin at 10.05pm on Sunday night. Incredibly bright with a long tail. It was so bright that it could still be observed as it travelled behind low clouds. Initially thought it was an Air NZ jet with landing lights on travelling through foggy clouds. Soon became apparent as it then ventured into clear sky.

Guest on 19/01/2009 1:16am

Yep, we saw it lastnight.

We were walking home around 10pm lastnight when my partner saw it. I didnt beleave it myself untill I had looked at it for a few seconds. It was very big & very low in the sky & moving rather slow across the sky with a very long tail & moving almost the same speed as a saterlite. It was heading almost strait from North West to South East over towards the port hills out to sea. It was the best & biggest one I have ever seen, I dont think I’ll see one that big ever again & hope I never see one bigger than that anyway & I have seen a few smaller ones before when fishing but never moving as slow as the one lastnight. Papaniu, Christchurch

Mason on 19/01/2009 1:10am

I was traveling not far out from Christchurch when we spotted what looked to be a vapor trail from a plane catching the last of the sunlight. However as it moved further across the sky a couple of small pieces broke away and that’s when we realised we were seeing a meteor.

G. on 19/01/2009 1:02am

My partner and I were out for a walk (in ChCh) @ 10.00 last night and saw the meteor. Unforgettable sight, so glad now that I had an overdue DVD to return (the reason for the walk).

Justin on 18/01/2009 11:32pm

I was taking the dog out at around 10pm and saw it also over the skies of Lyttelton. It came in from Chch city way and kept going towards the South West direction and lasted for a minute our so. It was pretty spectacular and by far the best I have ever seen. (even my dog sat and watched it!)
I was about to go in and get the camera but figured it would be gone by the time I got organised.

weather-nut on 18/01/2009 8:39pm

Could be from any one of at least 4 minor separate meteor showers that all peak roughly about now – Delta-Cancrids being the strongest but slightly to the north, Alpha-Hydrids, or much further south, Alpha-Crucids and Eta-Carinids.

Btw, a ‘meteor’ is the small body of space matter which you see becoming incandescent as a result of friction when it enters the earth’s atmosphere. A ‘meteorite’ is a meteor that survives its passage through the earth’s atmosphere and is found on the ground. And a ‘shooting-star’ is just another name for a meteor.

Rob on 20/01/2009 1:51am

weather-nut’s report of this event (actually a satellite decay) is useful as it gives positions in the sky. It would be even more useful if you could please give your location (city, town etc quite sufficient.)

Wendy on 18/01/2009 8:39pm

Saw a bright ball of fire followed by a long white tail, also thought it was a plane crashing! It stayed in the sky for ages at about 10pm Sunday 18th January. Seen from South Brighton (Christchurch)

SkinBintin on 18/01/2009 6:03pm

Hi there.

Last night, while in works car park, I got to watch the most incredible meteor I have ever seen burn it’s way across the sky. It was an exceptional display. I only wish I had my camera with me.

The gas trail was visible for a long while afterwards too.

It’s something I will never forget… Was great 🙂

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