Somerset ‘meteorite’ still a mystery in the U.K.

We included this story yesterday in Leftover Links but it seems to be pretty popular so I’m including it as a feature. Not sure what it is but meteor seems unlikely.

Was UFO spotted over Avalon Marshes similar to Russian meteor fireball that hit Chelyabinsk? | This is Somerset.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Or was it, similar to the meteorite that hit Chelyabinsk yesterday morning, a space rock breaking up in the atmosphere?

Its origins are a genuine mystery.

The pictures (see link for more) were taken at the Avalon Marshes bird sanctuary at Shapwick Heath last Wednesday by Annie Henderson.

Annie said: “We were out photographing the starlings at 5.25pm and saw the bright thing in the sky, but thought it was just a high flying plane or a satellite.

There have been many suggestions about what it is including a meteorite a Chinese lantern, a firework, a miniature rocket, a plane with a reflection off jet trails, or a satellite burning up on re-entry.

You can see that there appears to be burning gases off the object and that it is being propelled UPWARD. Other pictures show it sideways. But there is no smoke trail so it does not match photos of homemade rockets. Also curious, is that there is no word on how the object moved. Was it stationary at all, did it arc, was there noise? That is a glaring missing detail.

I’m wondering how much of this interest is due to Meteor Friday with all the current focus by the media.

Any suggestions?

Photo credit: Annie Henderson

Photo credit: Annie Henderson

Another article on this appeared with speculation.
Mystery of Somerset ‘meteorite’ photographed over Avalon Marshes nature reserve at Shapwick Heath still no closer to being solved | This is Somerset.

Tip: Hayley Stevens

  10 comments for “Somerset ‘meteorite’ still a mystery in the U.K.

  1. February 18, 2013 at 8:36 AM

    It sure looks like a jet contrail illuminated by the setting sun to me. Black part would be the plane, and its probably a bit blurry due to camera motion. People are often surprised how bright orange contrails can look near sunrise or sunset. (Rest of photos in that set do seem to indicate it was near sunrise/sunset).

  2. RDW
    February 18, 2013 at 8:39 AM

    Judging from just the picture there it does seem to be moving upwards and not downwards. Just guessing, but I’d think maybe a large firework or small home made rocket. It seems like something moving downwards would trail flames in the other direction.

  3. February 18, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    Oh, and as with the “missile launch off California coast” story from 2010, I bet with some knowledge of the location of the camera and the exact time of the photo, one could tie it to a specific airline flight.

  4. February 18, 2013 at 8:51 AM

    I’m still waiting to hear back from the Somerset paper as to whether I can get the contact info of the photographer, and maybe the original photo. I live on the Wiltshire/Somerset border.

    I’ve written my initial speculations here:

  5. Eve
    February 18, 2013 at 9:06 AM

    They were out photographing…starlings?! Has the European starling become rare in the UK? Would they like a few million? Anyway, since this is the Avalon Marshes in Somerset, I’m going to say that this is some sort of omen–a divine indication of the location of King Arthur’s resting place and the Holy Grail. Either that or what Tim said.

  6. Richard Cornford
    February 18, 2013 at 9:48 AM

    The article states that “we were out photographing the starlings at 5.25pm” and suggests Wednesday 13th February 2013.

    The visitor centre for Shapwick Heath is approximately at 51.149N, 2.712W, with the best candidate for marshes slightly to the south east according to Google maps.

    An online sunset calculator suggests longitude W2.7, latitude N51.1 would have a (theoretical (presumably at sea level on a smooth earth)) sunset time of 5:23pm on that date. So just post-sunset with the camera looking towards the west seems likely.

    Unfortunately the Somerset/Wiltshire area is crowded with military air bases so it could be an aircraft but not a commercial one.

  7. February 18, 2013 at 11:12 AM

    Contrail. Agree with Tim.

  8. Mick West
    February 18, 2013 at 12:42 PM

    It’s a short sunlit contrail. Look like an od shape because of perspective. It’s flying towards the camera. probably about 80 miles away.

  9. sealpath
    February 18, 2013 at 12:52 PM

    There is one photo of the object that clearly shows much longer contrails and looks very much like the setting sun reflecting off twin trails. I think the other photos are just at an odd angle, and the orange light is tricking the eye/camera.

    That said, my first impression of the photo above was that someone had draped a large tablecloth over a rocket – LOL.

  10. Derek P
    February 18, 2013 at 6:49 PM

    Clearly they stumbled onto a quidditch match. What you have there is a classic Golden Snitch.
    And you call yourselves skeptics!

Comments are closed.