A fireball spotted over many parts of northern Britain has been confirmed as a meteor after a day of confusion over its identity.

The fireball was visible over northern England, Northern Ireland and Scotland when it flared up in a clear night sky just after 10pm on Wednesday night.

According to new calculations by the UK Meteor Network, it traveled 300km over Wales, the Irish Sea and Belfast before crashing into the Atlantic near Islay.

The network’s initial calculations suggested that this space debris could have come from Elon Musk’s Starlink satellite program. But he retracted that theory after collecting more data.

John McLean, an astronomer at the network, said: “We looked at it from many other angles. It’s definitely a meteor. Possibly a small piece of an asteroid that broke off from an asteroid. It came into asteroid orbit.”

He added: “We think it’s probably between 50 and 100km from Islay. Now it will be at the bottom of the ocean.”

He said the fireball was initially mistaken for space debris because it was moving slower than a normal meteor, and videos seen show it crashed higher and earlier than the meteor.

He said: “The speed and how we break it down is what threw us initially. It was quite slow, more in line with space debris, so it was considered too slow for a meteor.

“The velocity was 31,950 miles per hour, which is more consistent with space junk. Hence our initial thoughts.”

McLean suggested Thursday morning that the fireball was a spent Starlink satellite burning up in the atmosphere as planned.

But he later said: “We went away and looked at any possibility of space debris. There was no such thing that could give us space junk. It definitely wasn’t SpaceX. There were two Starlink satellites that were due to de-orbit, but they would not have fallen near the UK. They descended over North America.”

The network received about 800 sightings of the ballid. McLean said: “Most people who saw it probably had a rare experience. The speed of it and the way it disintegrated was a bit surprising.”

The network said in a statement: “The fireball over Northern Ireland and Scotland last night was definitely a meteor. The fireball seen over the UK yesterday lasted for more than 20 seconds and traveled north-west, passing directly over Belfast.’

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