A clear sky at night meant scores of people across the country were able to catch a rare glimpse of a meteor which passed overhead. The spectacle caught the attention of communities in Kent, Sussex, London, Essex, Hertfordshire, Wolverhampton, Wiltshire and the West Midlands. While it was seen with the naked eye, it also showed up on people’s smart doorbells which are installed with cameras. The meteor, which is unnamed and unexpected, streaked over England at 8pm last night.

The sighting also sparked the attention of the Met Office, the UK’s top forecaster, which took to Twitter and said: “Reports of a meteor in the sky over the UK just now. If you managed to take any footage we’d love to see it”.

Clear skies contributed to the quality of sightings, it said. One person, Becky Roberts, said she and her family were in the garden of their home in Lichfield, Staffordshire when it caught their attention.

Scores of people on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent also say they saw it, describing it as “amazing” as it flew north of their gaze. Some even said the meteor had a “green fiery tail” as it vanished into the distance.

Meteors are defined as pieces of debris which enter the Earth’s atmosphere at speeds of up to 43 miles per second. They then vaporize and cause the streaks in the sky.

One Twitter user, GraceWarring22, joked: “Glad I’m doing dry January otherwise wouldn’t have believed my eyes at the massive meteor (too big to be a shooting star) I just saw in Blackheath, wow amazing. Anyone else?”

She described it as being a “huge white ball, with a red surround and a long trail of shooting stars type tail”. Dubbing it a beautiful sight, she said she’s lucky she was looking in the direction it flew, capturing it for a split second.

The meteor was not classed as a shooting star, despite them being the same thing. A shooting star is a small piece of interplanetary matter of which the small particles soar quickly alongside the Earth.

As they enter the atmosphere they evaporate – but the air “witnessed” is the emission of radiation from ionised gas, with the trail essentially being a hot gas which is gradually cooling.