Likely terminal fireball sighted

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A Teschmakers man saw a ‘big, bright, white mass’ in the sky early yesterday morning.

Mark Robb was driving at about 6.30am and glanced out toward the sea and saw what looked like a meteorite coming down out of the sky.

“It happened in a split second,” Mr Robb said.

“A big, bright, white mass was coming down and then it just disintegrated.

“It was a bit like a shooting star. I’ve seen that before, but I’ve never seen one break up like this one did.”

Alan Gilmore, spokesperson at the Mt John Observatory in Tekapo, said the event was likely to be a terminal fireball.

He said as the meteor was slowed by the earth’s atmosphere, large fireballs would break up abruptly, ending in a bright flash.

“It’s a bit like dropping soft rock onto concrete – the whole thing terminates,” Mr Gilmore said.

He said very few meteors made it down to earth.

By LINDA MCCARTHY