Very bright and sonic fireball over the English Channel


A very bright and sonic fireball streaked through the night sky over the English Channel at 21:48 UTC on September 5, 2021. The event and was captured by numerous dashcams and Fripon video stations.

The International Meteor Organization (IMO) received more than 400 witness reports from both sides of the Channel, with many of them reporting related sonic booms and other sounds.1

"An event sometimes reported by 'frightening' even by regular observers, seen the intensity of the flash it generated. Actually, the meteoroid entered the atmosphere above the Atlantic ocean, below Brittany, and traveled north, passing the extreme point of the region and ending its light path above the Channel," noted Karl Antier of IMO.

YouTube video

YouTube video

Fireball over the English Channel on September 5, 2021 – heatmap. Credit: IMO

Fireball over the English Channel on September 5, 2021 (through the local cloud cover). Credit: Fripon/Vigie-Ciel

The Fireball Recovery and InterPlanetary Observation Network (Fripon) calculated the meteoroid was initially around 22 cm (0.6 feet) in diameter and weighed 40 kg (88 pounds).2

It entered the atmosphere at a speed of 21.5 km/s and a 34° angle relative to the horizontal.

Orbital and physical parameters of the English Channel fireball on September 5, 2021. Credit: Fripon/Vigie-Ciel

Image credit: Fripon/Vigie-Ciel

"The main parameters of the event are a passage through the zenith of Brest and a brilliant end of the trajectory over the English Channel at an altitude of 39 km (24 miles)," Antier said.

"The initial speed of 21.5 km/s (~77 500 km/h) and an inclination of 34 ° from the horizontal did not allow the survival of a meteorite — the object completely disintegrated in the atmosphere."


1 Huge fireball over the Channel on Sept. 5 – IMO

2 BOLIDE DU 5 SEPTEMBRE, 23H47 – Fripon

Featured image: Fireball over the English Channel on September 5, 2021 – heatmap. Credit: Nicolas Arzur


Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *