'Meteor shower' was out of control Russian satellite debris - expert

An expert from the University of Auckland says the "meteor shower" many New Zealanders saw shooting across the sky last night was actually a piece of a Russian satellite.

Theoretical cosmologist Professor Richard Easther, who heads up the physics department at the University of Auckland, suggested the theory on Twitter on Saturday night.

Initially he said it could be any of three things, a meteor, bolide or space junk. He later confirmed based upon information online it appeared to be space junk.

Specifically a piece of the Russian satellite Kosmos 2430, which was due renter the atmosphere around this time.

Prof Easther told NZME he was 99 percent sure the bright light was the satellite.

The Kosmos 2430 was launched in 2007 to identify missile launches using optical telescopes and infrared sensors.

It drifted off station in May 2012.

The United States has similar satellites of its own, Prof Easther told NZME.