Early analysis of footage from last night's meteor over Northern Tasmania indicates it could have been between the size of a soccer ball or several metres across, and likely burnt up over Bass Strait, astronomer Martin George says.
Residents across the north of Tasmania spotted the object as it careered through the skies about 8.30pm leaving a dazzling flash in its wake.
Mr George, Launceston Planetarium astronomer, said it was difficult to guess an exact size, but given the brightness and the flashes as pieces broke away, it was unlikely to be particularly large by meteor standards.
"It's very difficult to quote a precise size for such an object because it all depends on its velocity and what it's made of, however this was clearly an extremely bright object, and it could be the size of a soccer ball to up to two to three metres across," he said.
"It was like a large ball, if you like, or a very small car.
"It's pretty clear to me it was a natural object, not a piece of space junk."
Although it appeared close to earth, Mr George said meteors typically stop glowing about 20 to 30 kilometres above the earth's surface. It was likely to have burnt up before it could reach the ground.
The object was also far smaller than other famous meteors in modern times, including the approximately 20-metre meteor that broke up over Chelyabinsk in Russia in 2013, causing widespread damage and injury from broken windows.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Mr George said last night's sight was not particularly unusual, however it was fortunate that it appeared at a time and location where many people were able to witness it.
"This is not an extremely rare event," he said.
"The earth collides with a lot of stuff every day - about 100 tonnes of space debris.
"Some years ago I saw a similar object which was at least as bright as the full moon light up the sky, it was later determined that happened over Bass Strait."
And if anyone was thinking about trawling the North-West to find the object, they might as well stay at home - both because it was extremely difficult to find these objects, and it likely burnt up anyway.
"We get a lot of reports from people who feel sure that an object reached the ground, but the vast majority of these never get to the earth's surface," Mr George said.
"At the museum we often have people bring objects they suspect to be meteorites, but in the vast majority of cases they are not.
"But if people ever find an object that is extremely heavy, like a rock that is very heavy for its size, it could be made of pure iron or largely iron. There is a possibility that it is a meteorite."
While you're with us, you can now sign up to receive breaking news updates and daily headlines direct to your inbox. Sign up here.