Asteroid explodes over English Channel after entering Earth’s atmosphere creating shooting star effect

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The 1m asteroid was visible from across most of southern England and Wales

An asteroid has entered the Earth’s atmosphere and was seen lighting up the sky above the English Channel in the early hours of Monday morning.

The small asteroid exploded just before 3am on 13 February, creating a shooting star effect - also known as an ‘airburst’.

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Named Sar2667, the 1m asteroid was visible from across most of southern England and Wales – and as far south as Paris, France.

Twitter user @KadeFlowers shared footage of the asteroid seen from BrightonTwitter user @KadeFlowers shared footage of the asteroid seen from Brighton
Twitter user @KadeFlowers shared footage of the asteroid seen from Brighton

It marks just the seventh time an asteroid impact has been predicted in advance. The last asteroid predicted to enter into the Earth’s atmosphere in advance was in November last year and was seen in the sky above Ontario, Canada.

The European Space Agency tweeted that it was "a sign of the rapid advancements in global asteroid detection capabilities!"

People across the UK captured the amazing moment on camera, sharing pictures and videos online.

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The agency earlier said the object was expected to "safely strike" the earth’s atmosphere near the French city of Rouen.

The International Meteor Organization, a Belgium-based non-profit organisation, said the object would have entered about 4km (2.5 miles) from the French coast and would create a "fireball" effect.

American Physicist and airburst specialist Mark Boslough from the Los Alamos National Laboratory told Wales Online that while "airbursts of this size happen somewhere several times per year" they are "rarely discovered in advance."

Mr Boslough added that it was the first time in history this had happened "over a populated area with enough warning to get data".

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What is an asteroid?

An asteroid is a small rocky object that orbits the sun, according to NASA.

Most asteroids are located between Mars and Jupiter, which is known as the ‘asteroid belt’. The majority of the asteroids that come near earth come from the inner part of the belt, where their orbits have been influenced by Jupiter, Mars and some by mutual collisions.

Currently, no known asteroid poses a significant risk of impact with Earth over the next 100 years. There are a few methods that NASA is studying to deflect an asteroid on a course to impact Earth - which ranges from a gravity tractor, where a spacecraft will rendezvous with an asteroid to alter the course of the asteroid, to a kinetic impactor - where a spacecraft is launched that simply slams itself into the asteroid at several km per second speed to alter its speed.

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