THE 'sonic boom' that shook Dorset over the weekend could be a scientifically valuable event - and residents are being urged to report what they heard to the UK Meteor Network.

Experts spent much of Saturday piecing together the evidence after a huge boom and tremors shook the county at around 3.45pm. The blast was widely reported across the south west of England, parts of France and the Channel Islands.

Swanage and Wareham Voice: The meteor was captured over Jersey by 9 year-old Kitty O'PreyThe meteor was captured over Jersey by 9 year-old Kitty O'Prey

It is thought to have been caused by a meteor fireball 'bolide' entering the Earth's atmosphere, explains astronomer Will Gater, who worked with an Oxford University physicist to establish the theory on Saturday.

"This event just highlights how fantastically exciting astronomy can be," Mr Gater said.

"There are now several lines of evidence that suggest that what was heard across the south-west UK was the sonic boom from a meteor bolide in our atmosphere; there are visual reports, dashcam footage and satellite imagery, all of which are broadly concurrent with the recorded booms and rumbling sounds."

He added: "This, potentially, could also be a scientifically valuable event. If anyone has footage, or heard or saw the event, they are being asked to submit a report to the UK Meteor Network and the UK Fireball Alliance via their websites at ukmeteornetwork.co.uk/fireball-report and www.ukfall.org.uk"

The boom are distinctly audible on the CCTV footage captured by East Fleet Farm Touring Park in Chickerell.

Manager James Newman spoke of the moment he heard it.

He said: "It was a big surprise - particularly as it's so quiet here at the minute, so the boom sounded very loud and rumbled on for about 10 seconds.

"We were in the office getting everything ready to reopen next month, and suddenly heard it. My colleague and I both jumped up and wondered what it was.

"When we'd had a chance to think about it, we realised it sounded like a distinct sonic boom noise, but there was nothing obvious in the sky as to what it could have been.

"It's not unheard of to have a military jet flying at speed but then you'd expect to see it - it was very much a sudden boom out of nowhere and then nothing to show for it in the sky.

"I've heard a sonic boom before which is very similar in sound - but it continued on for longer than normal."

Meanwhile, three distinct 'booms' can be heard on an audio recording captured by resident Joe Stockwell.

He said: "I was out sound recording birds near to Waddock Cross when all of a sudden my ears were nearly blown out by a terrific bang.

"I removed my headphones and could hear the sound reverberating, rumbling away. All the birds I was recording took flight and after 20 seconds or so the sound had gone.

"I assumed with was live firing from the nearby ranges but to my surprise I later discovered it was a meteorite, pretty cool!"