Meteor rattles Hawke's Bay

A meteor lit up the Hawke's Bay sky last night and burned up with a boom that rattled windows.

"It was like an earthquake, but without the shaking," said one Akina woman.

Maraekakaho woman Liz Wilson heard "the weirdest noise, like a V8 engine" at about 9.45pm.

"We got in the car, as you do, and had a look around the place ... we so wanted to find a big, burning thing," she said.

An Otane woman said her father saw a "huge, big fireball with a long tail" overhead and heading towards Elsthorpe.

Bruce Hoyt was driving south along the Hawke's Bay Expressway when the sky lit up as if by lightning.

"It came down, heading south, then broke up into six to eight pieces, before fading out. A second or so later, I heard a bang.

"I would say the bang was from the meteor hitting the atmosphere. The sound came later because it travels slower than light."

That summation was right, said Hawke's Bay Astronomical Society president Gary Sparks. "When these things come in, it is explosive decompression.

With the heat of re-entry they reach a critical temperature and they explode," he said.

The clear sky last night would have helped the sound travel. His guess was the meteor would have been no larger than a basketball.

August is one of the times of year when meteor showers were more frequent, Mr Sparks said, with the Earth - orbiting the Sun at 100,000km/h - meeting the dust trail of a meteor.

"What people saw last night was probably a rogue meteor, something that was not in the same path as the dust trail," Mr Sparks said.

- HAWKE'S BAY TODAY

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