'Fireball' meteor lights up sky over Loch Ness

Tourist guide captures 'once in a lifetime' picture

'Fireball meteor' lights up sky over Loch Ness

A tourist guide has captured a rare photograph of a meteor streaking across the sky over Loch Ness in Scotland.

John Alasdair Macdonald, who runs the tour guide company The Hebridean Explorer, captured the image on a compact camera near Dochfour at about 9pm on Sunday.

He was just taking some landscape shots and described catching the image of the meteor as a "fluke".

The BBC reports that John said: "I was taking some new pictures to put on my Facebook page using a Sony RX100 compact camera.

"It was a beautiful, clear night and I got some nice pictures but capturing the meteor was a fluke. I will never take a picture like that again."

Speaking to the Mirror, John added: "It's a once in a lifetime thing, I think I was just extremely lucky and for it to take place in the middle of the picture as well - it was just the perfect picture."

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency reportedly got calls from people in the Highlands, Dumfries and Galloway and Cumbria concerned it was a distress flare.

According to news.stv.tv, a spokeswoman for the agency said: "A few calls were made to coastguards in Stornoway and Belfast in case they had spotted an emergency distress flare. Thank you to those who called as it proves what we say - we would rather be called and not needed than not called at all."

John uploaded the picture onto The Hebridean Explorer's Facebook page.

It is believed the meteor was seen as far away as Switzerland and Austria.

According to Wikipedia, a meteoroid is a small rocky or metallic body travelling through space. Meteoroids are significantly smaller than asteroids, and range in size from small grains to one metre-wide objects. Smaller objects than this are classified as micrometeoroids or space dust. Most are fragments from comets or asteroids, while others are collision impact debris ejected from bodies such as the Moon or Mars.

When such an object enters the Earth's atmosphere at a speed typically in excess of 20 km/s, aerodynamic heating produces a streak of light, both from the glowing object and the trail of glowing particles that it leaves in its wake. This phenomenon is called a meteor, or colloquially a "shooting star" or "falling star".

A fireball is a brighter-than-usual meteor. The International Astronomical Union defines a fireball as "a meteor brighter than any of the planets" (magnitude −4 or greater).

There are probably more than 500,000 fireballs a year, but most will go unnoticed because most will occur over the ocean and half will occur during daytime.

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