Bright meteor seen in NZ sky

A large meteor has been seen flying through the sky across New Zealand tonight.

The burning ball of space rock was spotted from locations throughout the country, including the West Coast, Auckland, Christchurch, Upper Hutt, Palmerston North, Napier and Nelson. 

Many of those who sighted the meteor described it as large with a colourful tail, streaking across the sky about 6pm.

"[I] saw brilliant blue meteorite with long tail travel east to west across the northern sky. It seemed like fireworks at first and appeared close," Richard from north Canterbury posted on the WeatherWatch meteor watch website.

Another witness, Michelle, said: "Very large, beautiful meteor sighted over Napier, New Zealand aprox 6pm."

Steven said: "Very bright white light ,showing the signs of a classic small meteor fly across Christchurch."

Josh posted: "Around 6pm very large green meteor tracking north to south west, parts breaking off as it went. Beautiful!"

Sue said: "I saw a brilliant blue/pink meteor pass swiftly overhead approx 6.30 this evening heading in a south westerly direction as I was walking home from the train station in Wallaceville, Upper Hutt."

Another witness, Ruth, wrote: "Just saw a very bright streak with green at the front driving out of town Wanaka, toward Albert Town, streak from the sky, it was going very fast and as if straight toward earth. Went behind Mt Grand mountain range and out of sight."

Tim Jessop, an educator at Stardome Observatory, said such meteors were not uncommon.

"It happens from time-to-time you get a random meteor coming through, we usually get a couple of calls about them a year, ones that are different to what people often see. But they're not unexpected, you can't really predict them, they're usually tiny things," he said.

"They look big, but they're often not very large at all. It almost certainly wouldn't have made it to the ground, it would have burnt up high in the atmosphere."

It had been a bit too cloudy over the observatory, located in Auckland's Royal Oak, too see it tonight, he said.

A meteor was typically "some random rock or ice from space falling through the [Earth's] atmosphere", Mr Jessop said.

There was no need to be concerned, he said, there was "no consequence whatsoever".

- Patrice Dougan of APNZ

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