Bright light in New Zealand skies baffles onlookers

Onlookers have speculated that a bright light seen streaking across skies above New Zealand may have been anything from a UFO to a meteorite.

New Zealanders are speculating on the source of bright light seen in the sky, which astronomers suspect could be a meteorite.

The moment was also spotted by cameras trained on Saturday's cricket match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand at Mount Maunganui at 11pm local time (07:58 UT).

The video footage shows the bright light visible for at least a minute before disappearing.

Videos shot by keen stargazers soon appeared on Twitter, with many believing it to be a meteorite or meteor shower.

Auckland Astronomical Society president Bill Thomas said he believed it was a meteorite.

"There's a visible sort of tail, whereas a satellite [is] like a point of light moving across the sky ... bright [meteorites] like that one as not that common in the one place, but they're common worldwide," he told the New Zealand Herald.

Physics professor Richard Easther at the University of Auckland said he believed it was light coming from a falling Russian satellite.

The bright ball of light seen in the distance.
Source: Twitter

In particular, he thought it could be the Russian Kosmos 2430 satellite.

"From the time and location, the event can be identified as the reentry of Kosmos 2430 (2007-049A), a defunct Russian US-K Early Warning satellite launched in 2007," he wrote in a blog.

"The copious fragmentation visible in the footage from New Zealand shows that this event, at 7:58 UT was the actual moment of atmospheric reentry and complete disintegration." 

Published 6 January 2019 at 1:58pm, updated 6 January 2019 at 2:03pm