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Great balls of fire!

Could this be a meteoroid heading for Preston?

Bus driver Thomas Drew snapped this ball of fire flying across the sky above the city.

The 23-year-old grabbed his mobile phone to take a picture of the strange sight on Tuesday December 2.

He said: "I was in Preston looking up from Greyfriars towards the Flag Market.

"At first I thought it was a plane but then when I looked carefully, I saw that it was like a ball with a trail of fire coming off it.

"I got to see it for about 30 seconds then it went behind the clouds – I'm not sure if anyone around me saw it."

Meteorites are fragments of rock and metal that fall to Earth from space.

As they enter the Earth's atmosphere they slow rapidly due to friction and flash across the sky like a firework, before finally crashing to the ground.

After inspecting Thomas' photographs, Dr Robert Walsh, solar

astrophysicist at the University of Central Lancashire, said: "It's very difficult to tell what they are.

"Sometimes there are particles of rocks that do manage to get through and create these fireball things in the sky.

"When they land, that's when you get a meteorite. If this is the size that it is, if it did land, it would cause quite a large crater.

"A lot of them land in the sea. You can have other things like bits and piece breaking off aircraft which – with the force of the sky – can look like meteorites.

"It certainly looks like some sort of unidentified flying object above Preston."

Every year between 30,000 and 80,000 meteorites larger than 20 grams in mass fall from space to Earth.

Dr Walsh added: "There are people picking up meteorites on a semi-regular basis around the world. If something like that did strike the Earth then we would know about it."

Did you see the meteoroid or have you found a meteorite crater?

Call Melanie Wallwork on 01772 838 107 or e-mail melanie.wallwork@lep.co.uk

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