Watch: Astronomy expert says beautiful green meteor over Gisborne night sky was 'reasonably large'

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Gisborne rugby players were left staring "like zombies" as a bright green meteor tore across the sky last night.

Local Tuki Sweeney was filming set plays for his Pirates rugby team just after 7pm last night when he noticed the pitch light up and a bright streak in the sky to the north, going from east to west.

"It lasted for quite a while - about six seconds," Mr Sweeney said.

"We turned around and I sort of dropped my phone ... I just got the last glimpse of it.

"There were three rugby teams training and they all just sort of stood still like zombies."

He said the colours were blue, green and white and he thought the meteor was accompanied by a "whistling" sound "a little bit of a crack" - but because the meteor was many kilometres away, and sounds were likely coincidental.

"It actually brightened up the whole rugby pitch - there was about three rugby fields and it brightened up the whole area," Mr Sweeney said.

"There were three rugby teams training and they all just sort of stood still like zombies."

METEOR WOULD HAVE BEEN 'REASONABLY LARGE'

Director of Otago Museum and astronomical expert Dr Ian Griffin said it was very lucky to get such clear footage of a meteor, especially because it has the context of people in it to give it scale.

"It does look like a classic either a meteor re-entry or a space-junk breakup," Dr Griffin said.

"It does look quite bright as well, which probably means it was reasonably large."

Judging by the brightness, Dr Griffin estimated that object was probably between the size of a cricket ball and a basketball.

Meteors typically burn up between 80-150km above the earth, which means they can usually be seen from a distance of up to about 200km, he said, and the colour was likely due to gases in the atmosphere. 

"Sometimes you get green glows from copper or something in the meteor, but that's less likely - most of the time it's the gas around the meteor glowing and the green glow is normally oxygen relatively high up in the Earth's atmosphere," he said.

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