STREAKING across the sky like a ball of pale green fire, a meteor caused quite a stir in Hampshire in the spring of 1891.

Recent dramatic images of a meteor crashing through the atmosphere and landing in a remote part of Russia last month reminded Hampshire’s local historians of the time, 122 years ago, when a piece of space debris lit up the skies over the county.

The meteor caused such a sensation that many people wrote to the newspapers describing what they had seen in the night sky.

On May 16, 1891, the Hampshire Independent, a forerunner of the Daily Echo, carried a letter from Arthur Angell of Southampton, which said: “On Thursday evening at about 8.15pm I observed a rather remarkable meteor.

“It appeared like a ball of pale green fire, and must have been of great brilliancy, seeing that it was still daylight or bright twilight.

“When it appeared it seemed to start from a point about due east from Southampton and at a high altitude, and plunged down apparently directly towards the south.”

According to the account the green colour intensified until it was lost to view under the horizon.

“The colour, which to me is uncommon, was probably due to some chemical peculiarity in the composition of the body, which on entering the atmosphere, by friction immediately burst with brilliant incandescence,” said Mr Angell.

A week later and the Hampshire Independent published another letter about the meteor from NCH Nisbett who lived in Winchester’s High Street.

“The remarkable meteor noticed by your correspondent last week was also seen by myself from Fareham railway station, where, with other members of the Hampshire Field Club, I was waiting for the 8.19pm train, so that the time evidently agrees,” said the letter writer.

“I was unable to call the attention of anyone else in time for them to see it although I endeavoured to do so.

“As nearly as I can judge the meteor appeared about due east, and the pale green colour was particularly noticed by me in describing it, the more so as a few evenings previously I saw a similar one at an earlier hour, 6.18pm on bearing east by south from Winchester.”

More recently, at the beginning of this year, a meteor streaking across the January night sky over Hampshire once again lit up the darkness.

On January 12 many witnesses, spread over an area from Cheshire to Hampshire and London to Bristol, reported seeing a meteor that was also green or jade in colour.

A few months earlier, in November of last year, another meteor was spotted, this time over Stockbridge.

At first the brilliant white object was thought to have been a helicopter heading towards the Middle Wallop airfield.

However, due to the trajectory and height it was thought to have been a meteor.