Meteor or Russian satellite

Something burned up in the sky above northern New Zealand last night, but what was it?

Newshub has Sky TV coverage here: Meteor seen flying over New Zealand

The Greatest Meteor Show of All Time

The peak of this year’s Perseids meteor shower has just passed. It happens when the Earth passed through the orbital path of the Swift-Tuttle comet, and is only visible from the Northern Hemisphere.

Some reports circulated the Internet claiming this year’s Perseids  would be “The Greatest Meteor Show of All Time”. That was largely fake news – Perseids  can put on a good show but as it coincided with a full moon this year it wouldn’t be as spectacular as it can be.

This display could  close to The Greatest Meteor Show of Recorded Time

“Upwards of 100 lay prostrate on the ground…with their hands raised, imploring God to save the world and them. The scene was truly awful; for never did rain fall much thicker than the meteors fell towards the Earth; east, west, north and south, it was the same.”

That was describing a Leonids shower in 1833, from South Carolina (Chambers, A Handbook of Descriptive and Practical Astronomy, Volume 1, 1889).

NASA Blog:

So, if not this year’s Perseid shower, what was the greatest meteor show of all time? I think many meteor researchers would give that award to the 1833 Leonids, which had rates of tens of thousands, perhaps even 100,000, meteors per hour. During a good Perseid shower under ideal conditions, you can see about one meteor per minute. Now imagine yourself being back in 1833, on the night of Nov. 12.

Now, THAT’s a meteor shower. The 1833 storm had a profound effect on those that witnessed it; it also gave birth to modern meteor science. Those of us who study meteors dream of such a display happening sometime within our lifetimes.

But it won’t be caused by this year’s Perseids.


Fireball from Dunedin

Something like a bigger and slower than normal shooting star/meteorite was seen from Dunedin tonight.

Ian Griffin (astonomer) is referring to it as a bright meteor. It travelled approximately southwest to northwest.

Mt John Observatory astronomer Natasha Gardiner: “We have been up here on Mt John for years and we have never seen one this big.” She guessed it was the size of a fist.

ODT: Light over Dunedin ‘rarer’ than a meteor (+ video)

Former resident superintendent of Canterbury University’s Mt John Observatory, astronomer Alan Gilmore, said the fireball was rarer than a meteor.

“It’s not a meteor, I’m certain of that.

“It took too long to go across the sky.”

Mr Gilmore said the flash had all the characteristics of a re-entry of debris from a space craft, or piece of equipment which had been orbiting earth.

Mr Gilmore said the only other such case in Southern skies he knew of happened about 10 years ago.


Mt John Observatory astronomer Natasha Gardiner: “We have been up here on Mt John for years and we have never seen one this big.”

Nathan Jaquiery I have just seen what looked like a meteor or something else go down over Dunedin city, although it was quite high in the sky hard to say if it landed or not… Anyway quite freaky and dramatic,,.. anyone else see it?

Shani Roberts Seen it heading back out to Brighton it was amazing!! Was so close put here just got bigger as it got closer was bloody amazing tried pulling over to capture footage but the cloud covered our view after we pulled over and we lost sight of it. Hope someone got some footage had to be a meteor?

Mark Kane You legend! My partner spotted it and we watched it from one side to the other. Was really a sight and I’m so glad someone got it on camera! I was thinking to myself “last thing Dinosaurs saw…

Stacey French Abbotsford but it was massive and looked like a huge flaming comet

Tetae Parata Out of it . My partner noticed somethng explode then we watched it spiral downwards

Petra Colwell I saw that too. North East over the harbour. It looked like a big ball of flame.

Tania Mitchell Metaor I think. Watched it from over towards mosgiel over the hill over our house in Brockville had a small fizz up over pine hill then towards port chalmers it just kept going and going must have been large. Also been told it was seen breaking up north of Palmerston!

Anita Maria Ireland Was seen over Blenheim about 22 minutes ago

Stuff/Press: Meteor spotted flying over South Island

A large meteor has exploded over the South Island, sparking a flurry of phone calls to police.

It was spotted up and down the island when it hit earth’s atmosphere and exploded about 6.30pm. 

Mt John Observatory astronomer Natasha Gardiner said it was the biggest meteor she had seen. 

It exploded into four pieces after hitting earth’s atmosphere. It was not a comet, she said. 

“We have been up here on Mt John for years and we have never seen one this big.”

A similar meteorite in Russia several years ago caused shock waves that smashed windows, she said. 

“We were a bit a little bit concerned initially to be honest.”

Gardiner said it was unlikely the meteor hit the ground. 

“We saw it soaring across the sky and then it exploded and went in four different directions.”

Gardiner guessed it was about the size of a fist. 

“Normally they are about the size of a grain of sand.”